Events Planned to Mark Abbey's 1000th Anniversary

In 2020, Bury St Edmunds will mark the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of its Abbey of St Edmund with a year of celebrations! Take a peek at what's already planned!

November 2019

A Night Before Christmas Dinner
Thursday 28 November

A charity fundraising dinner hosted by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lady Clare Countess of Euston at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Thursday, 28 November in aid of the Abbey 1000 chosen charities, namely St Nicholas Hospice Care, St Elizabeth Hospice and EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices).

January 2020

1,000 Years - the Abbey of St Edmund to St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Wednesday 8 January

Join Sarah Friswell from St Edmundsbury Cathedral for a fascinating overview of the history of Bury Abbey and the role of the Cathedral in the present day, and find out why 2020 is a special year of celebration. Entitled 1,000 Years - the Abbey of St Edmund to St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the talk takes place at Bury St Edmunds Library on Wednesday 8 January (11am - 12 noon). Free admission.

February 2020

Get The Best View of the Abbey of St Edmund Ruins from The Cathedral Tower
February to October

Explore heady heights with amazing views from the top of St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Millennium Tower, the highest point in Bury St Edmunds and a fantastic perspective on the ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund!

Experience a fascinating behind-the-scenes Tower Tour of St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Millennium Tower with fun and knowledgeable guides where you will learn more about the origins of the Cathedral church and about its continuing development over the last century culminating in our most exciting project in recent years; the building of a 160ft Millennium tower which was finished only in 2005. 

Tours run from February to October on Saturdays and Sundays but they also take place at other times such as bank holidays and group visits at other times can also be arranged. Tickets are £10. Book online at in advance or on the day in the Visitor Information Point within the Cathedral Shop. 

March 2020

1000 Stories at the Guildhall

Wednesday 4 March - Friday 20 November

Events Postponed (Date TBC)

You can get involved with the Abbey 1000 celebrations throughout the year at Bury St Edmunds Guildhall. The Guildhall has an ambitious target - to collect 1000 stories from members of the public. We want to showcase the things that matter to local individuals, community groups, schools and businesses.

Whether you have a grand tale to tell or just want to share a snippet, the Guildhall wants to hear from you. Written, verbal, visual, fact, fiction - the topic of your story and how you tell it is entirely up to you.

Need inspiration for your story? Why not come along to one of the Guildhall’s 1000 Stories events - experience a dramatic account of kidnapped monks, discover how artists conquer the fear of a blank canvas, and explore the layers of meaning behind treasured heirlooms.

To find out more pop by on one of the Guildhall’s regular open days on Wednesdays and Sundays, or get in touch through the website -

April 2020

Ed's and Tales Of The Abbey Walking Tour
Friday 3 April - Monday 6 April 

Postponed (Date TBC)

Tour Guide John Saunders takes you on a fascinating 90 minute walking tour which includes St Edmund's Catholic Church and explores how Catholics post-reformation have revealed their Patron Saint and made claims relating to his relics and body. 

Past tensions between town and abbey are revealed as the Ed's and Tales Tour stops at Bury St Edmunds Guildhall and an there's an opportunity to imagine the final stages of a pilgrim's journey to the Abbey and experience a monastic and spiritual aura at the ruins themselves.

St Edmund's Quiz Nights
Tuesday 21 April - Saturday25 April

Postponed (Date TBC)

St Edmund's RC Church is aiming to raise £1,000 for 1,000. £1,000 for good causes to celebrate the Abbey of St Edmund's 1,000th anniversary this year!

As part of their fundraising they are hosting a number of St Edmund's Quiz Nights putting the 'fun' into fundraising!

They are aiming to gather 100 teams to participate in each quiz during which questions will be a mix of local and general knowledge and multi-choice of three answers to choose from! The most successful teams will be offered the chance of competing in a final event later this year!

May 2020

Habits of A Lifetime Walking Tour

Friday 15 May - Monday 18 May

Postponed (Date TBC)

Join Tour Guide John Saunders to discover how for half a century Benedictine monks wearing black habits lives in the great Abbey of Bury St Edmunds.

Find out more about their daily regime, living conditions, education and obedience to rules. Hear how they were devoted to St Edmund and committed to helping others in the community on The Habits of a Lifetime Tour.

Bury St Edmunds Festival

The annual Bury St Edmunds Festival (14 - 24 May) will honour the 1000th anniversary with two special concerts.

Bury Bach Choir (Handel's Messiah)
Saturday 16 May 

Postponed (Date TBC)

The Bury Bach Choir will perform Handel’s most famous work, Messiah, at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday evening 16 May accompanied by Norwich Baroque and soprano Fae Evelyn, mezzo-soprano Valerie Reid, tenor Austin Gunn and bass Graeme Danby. One of the best-known choral works in western music, Messiah was first performed in April 1742, with a scriptural text complied by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the psalms included in the Book of Common Prayer.  Jennens’ text is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah, providing a fitting contribution to the Abbey 1000 celebrations, having been performed many times in the Cathedral.

The Sixteen: The Call of Rome
Monday 18 May


Since 2000, The Sixteen have travelled the length and breadth of the UK, discovering some of the country’s most beautiful architecture and we are delighted that they are able to come to Bury St Edmunds as part of the 1000 year celebrations. 

Their tour this year focuses on Rome, a city which has inspired countless pilgrimages, and where each of the four composers in this year’s programme created some of their finest work.

St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday 20 May


After many years, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra will be making a return visit to St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Wednesday 20 May playing a programme of Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev conducted by Ben Palmer, a former pupil of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds. 

Pilgrimage 2020 - St Benet’s, Norfolk and Ely
Monday 18 May - Friday 22 May

Postponed (Date TBC)

Follow in the footsteps of the 20 monks who founded the resting place of Edmund, king and martyr, taking one of two routes to St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Pilgrimage 2020 is an exciting opportunities to make a pilgrimage to Bury St Edmunds in 2020 to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund.

St Benet's, Norfolk to Bury St Edmunds - 18-22 May (80 miles)

Ely Cathedral to Bury St Edmunds - 21-22 May (30 miles)

For more information, costs and to book your place visit Booking closes February 29.

Day pilgrims are welcome. £10 per person. Booking essential by emailing

Abbey 1000 Trail Saturday 23 May - Friday 20 November

Enjoy a brand new heritage trail for the town and take a trip back in time to over 1000 years of Bury St Edmunds history on the Abbey 1000 Trail.

Brought to you by Our Bury St Edmunds BID, in association with author and chairman of The Bury Society Martyn Taylor, the trail will take you time travelling through Bury St Edmunds history!

Gathering of Benedictines and Benedictine Procession
Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May

Postponed (Date TBC)

An exploration of Benedictine teachings, featuring special guests Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury), Professor Sarah Foot (Oxford University) & Abbot Geoffrey Scott (Douai Abbey). 

The Abiding Wisdom weekend will include a unique procession of monks and nuns into the Abbey Gardens, a sculpture exhibition, the display of rare Abbey manuscripts, and ecumenical worship led by Bishop Martin Seeley & Bishop Alan Hopes, with special visits from His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, & the Archbishop of York designate, Bishop Stephen Cottrell. 

The celebrations are rounded off with a great picnic in the Abbey Gardens, and Vespers sung by a Benedictine choir.

Exhibition of Abbey Manuscripts in Cathedral Treasury
Saturday 23 May - Friday 17 July

Postponed (Date TBC)

Seven manuscripts from the Abbey Scriptorium are being reunited for the first time in their place of origin since 1539. 

Written and decorated by hand by monks in the Abbey, they will be displayed in St Edmundsbury Cathedral Treasury between 23 May and 17 July. 

The exhibition called 'Secrets of The Abbey: History Returns' features manuscripts are on loan from Pembroke College, Cambridge where they were donated by William Smart (Portreeve of Ipswich) in 1599.

Abbey 1000 Sculpture Exhibition
Saturday 23 May – Sunday 22 November

A fantastic new sculpture exhibition celebrating 1,000 years of the Abbey of St Edmund and Saint Edmund.

Each month from May 23 to November 22 a new piece of artwork will be display in the area of the Abbey ruins in the Abbey Gardens which was the crypt and where the Shrine of St Edmund would have stood.

Entry to the Abbey Gardens, and therefore the exhibition, is FREE.

Children's Crafts at Ickworth – Celebrating Bury St Edmunds History & Abbey

Saturday 23 May - Sunday 31 May

Visit Ickworth for children’s crafts which will focus on Ickworth’s links to the town of Bury St Edmunds and the Abbey of St Edmund.

There will be six different crafts to choose from (£2.50 per child) in the West Wing Gallery, linking to the Abbey Gardens, the Cathedral and historic Bury St Edmunds in fun and creative ways for children, all Celebrating Bury St Edmunds History & Abbey

Crafts - £2.50 per child - payable on arrival

General admission to the property is needed on the day. 

A Pilgrimage of Song - Route 1: Chevington to the Cathedral
Saturday 30 May

Postponed (Date TBC)

A pilgrimage for all who enjoy walking and singing will start at Chevington Village Hall and make its way to St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday, 30 May. A Pilgrimage of Song is a joint event between Cantus Firmus Trust and the Cathedral, the walk is part of an ongoing series of Pilgrimages of Song in Suffolk. Beginning with a workshop to learn the music for the day, the pilgrims will walk from church to church singing a short service at each. 

They will follow the old Abbots’ Way route from Chevington to Bury through Ickworth Park and Horinger before picking up the Edmund Way ending with Compline at the Cathedral and a hot meal in Pilgrim’s Kitchen. Chevington is relevant to the Abbey 1000 as the Abbots once had a retreat centre next to the village church. 

June 2020

Aldeburgh Festival Opening Night at St Edmundsbury Cathedral Friday 12 June


The 73rd Aldeburgh Festival will open at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, as part of the 1,000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund.

This will mark the first ever opening night performance at the Cathedral, as well as the first time that Aldeburgh Festival has opened outside of the Suffolk coastal area in over 50 years.

This event is part of a year of celebrations planned to commemorate the 1000 year anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund in 2020.

More details of the full programme can be found at Tickets: £7.50 - £40.00.

Bury St Edmunds Carnival - Bury St Edmunds Through The Years
Saturday 13 June

Postponed (Date TBC)

Bury St Edmunds Carnival is coming back for 2020! Procession, stalls, music, acts and more. 

 The theme for this year is ‘Bury St Edmunds Through The Years’ The Route Leaves West Suffolk College at 12:30pm Arrives on Angel Hill around 2pm.

Sunday 14 June 

A musical journey through Christian worship music, led by the Cathedral’s Music Development Director Richard Hubbard, with Cantus Firmus Choir and the St Edmundsbury Singers. 

Explore a wealth of eclectic styles, at Sing1000 from the music of the early church to the vibrant sounds of today’s worship. Something for everyone!

The Abbey of St Edmund By Dr Richard Hoggett
Thursday June 18

Join Historian Dr Richard Hoggett for a talk on the heritage of the Abbey of St Edmund.

Dr Hoggett is a freelance heritage consultant, writer and lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in the academic, commercial and local authority heritage sectors. He has taught extensively for the University of East Anglia and provided guest lectures and day schools for numerous other institutions, organisations and local societies.

Tickets: £7 including cheese and wine. 

July 2020

Abbey of St Edmund Anniversary Tours
July - September

Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides will introduce four new tours from July dedicated to the Abbey and St Edmund.  They will explore the lives of the Abbots; the legend of St Edmund; specific details of the Abbey and life during monastic times.   

Abbey Habits - Everyday life in the Abbey of St Edmund.

The Dark Side of The Abbey – Explore turbulent events in the life of the Abbey.

The Legacy of The Abbey – Find out what happened after the Abbey was closed down.

Circling The Abbey – Explore the boundaries of the Abbey precinct.

Bite Size Abbey – A 45-minute lunchtime tour of the Abbey for busy people.

Funny Stories for an Abbey Birthday – An activity tour of the Abbey for ages 6 and up!

For more information and to book the tours visit or book at The Apex or Cathedral Visitor Information Point. Tickets are £7, under 16s FREE. Bite Size Abbey tours are £5, under 16s FREE.

The Abbey of St Edmund: Artisan and Pilgrimage Exhibition Wednesday 1 July - Wednesday 30 September

The Abbey of St Edmund: Artisan and Pilgrimage in the Liberty of St Edmund will showcase the beauty and gravitas of St Edmunds’ Abbey, will be at Moyse's Hall Museum from 1 July to 30 September and will also focus on the people that travelled great distances to see the tomb of our martyred king.  

Special events will see evening workshops for adults that show how craftsmen created the beautiful carvings, stained glass and stonework. Lectures will explore the rich history and artisan work within the Abbey and beyond. Craft workshops for younger explorers will run throughout the summer holidays, along with trails, sensory tours, treasure hunts and hands-on activities. 

The Museum's work with Horrible Histories author and creator, Terry Deary, will show the other side of medieval life. Under the banner of the ‘Terrible Tales’ of Moyse’s Hall, visitors young and old can smell, touch and see what made a medieval Abbey town so beautifully disgusting. 

Picnic in The Abbey
Saturday 11 July

Join the community celebrations on Saturday 11th July with Picnic in the Abbey, a free event for the Abbey’s 1,000th year! 

Come down to the Abbey Gardens from 11am to 4pm and enjoy live music, entertainment and theatre for this family fun day. With plenty of food and drink stalls, craft activities and much more there’s lots to take part in as we look back at the Abbey’s past and enjoy it’s 1,000-year history. Organised by West Suffolk Council.

Symposium – Secrets of the Abbey: History Returns & The Mediaeval Baebes
Saturday 11 July

Spend the day celebrating the history of the Abbey of St Edmund and medieval music!

In the morning three expert speakers will give talks on the Abbey Manuscripts on display in the Cathedral Treasury for the Secrets of the Abbey: History Returns exhibition.

In the afternoon enjoy a workshop given by the Emmy-nominated Mediaeval Baebes, on turning ancient material into music.

Enjoy an evening concert by the Mediaeval Baebes based on their new album of plainsong.  

Ticket prices TBA, with day-package options available. More details coming soon ...

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Flower Exhibition Thursday 16 July - Sunday 19 July

Depicting ten centuries of the Abbey's millennium, the Cathedral's North Aisle will be transformed into a sea of colour with flower arrangements to celebrate the Abbey's 1,000th anniversary.

Open: Cathedral opening hours

FREE entry. Donations welcome.

August 2020

A Pilgrimage of Song - Route 2: Rougham to the Cathedral
Saturday 22 August

A pilgrimage for all who enjoy walking and singing. A joint event between Cantus Firmus Trust and the Cathedral, A Pilgrimage of Song is part of an ongoing series of Pilgrimages of Song in Suffolk. 

Beginning with a workshop to learn the music for the day, the pilgrims will walk from St Mary’s Church, Rougham to the Cathedral, via the unique and unusual church at Rushbrooke, singing a short service at each.  The day ends with Compline at the Cathedral, followed by a hot meal in Pilgrim’s Kitchen.

October 2020 

Noye’s Fludde
Friday 16 and Saturday 17 October

Postponed (Date TBC)

Under award-winning directorship, Benjamin Britten’s best-known opera for children Noye's Fludde will be set in the vast surrounds of the Cathedral Nave. 

Originally based on a Chester Mystery Play, the St Edmundsbury production will be preceded by a newly-devised Suffolk miracle Play in hour of the Abbey’s millennium, and will involve local schools.

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership and Suffolk Institute of Archaeology & History 2020 Millennium Conference
Saturday 17 October

St Mary's Church will be the venue for the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership and Suffolk Institute of Archaeology & History conference on Saturday 17 October entitled 'St Edmund’s Abbey - From Rise to Ruins: A Review of the Evidence'.

Guest Speakers include: Dr. Richard Hoggett, Dr Abby Antrobus, Canon Professor Sarah Foot, and Professor Mark Bailey.

Tickets will be available in April/May online from, by calling 01284 758000 and in person from The Apex box office, Bury St Edmunds.

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra Concert
Saturday 24 October 

A major concert by Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra in celebration of 1000 years of the Abbey of St Edmund.

Leslie Olive conducts a new commission by Paul Carr called 'Into The Light' for Abbey 1000.

Based on texts associated with St Benedict, its premiere will be performed by the English Arts Chorale and the Eye Bach Choir, alongside Dvorak's 'New World Symphony'.

More details, including ticket information coming soon ...

November 2020

St Edmund's Day Finale and Spectacle of Light
Thursday 19 November - Sunday 22 November

Enjoy the finale of 2020’s celebrations with a light spectacular at the Abbey 1000 Spectacle of Light, commemorating the 1000-year anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund in 1020. 

On the St Edmund Weekend evenings, witness stunning images and sound projected onto historic Abbey buildings, as the daylight fades enjoy an illuminated trail through the Abbey ruins in the atmospheric Abbey Gardens in partnership with West Suffolk College.

A free event in the Abbey Gardens on the evenings of November 19, 20, 21 and 22nd.

A Night at the Cathedral
St Edmund's Day Friday 20 November

Experience Suffolk's only Cathedral 'After Hours' on St Edmund's Day!

See the cathedral at night on St Edmund's Day in this a historic year for Bury St Edmunds, the 1000th year anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund. 

Enjoy open choral rehearsals, live art and a grand exhibition of charcoal drawings at A Night at The Cathedral. Refreshments will be on offer throughout the evening.

The Cathedral was originally known as St James’s Church and built within the precincts of the Abbey. It became a Cathedral in 1914.

The Cathedral building has continued to develop over recent years with the addition of the Millennium Tower, completed in 2005, and its magnificent painted and gilded vault, added in 2010. 

The event is part of the national event organised by the Association of English Cathedrals which will see 42 cathedrals opening their doors at night to welcome visitors and find out more about these amazing historical buildings.

Saturday 21 November 

A special guest speaker (TBA) will deliver the Millennium Lecture 'Edmundtide' at St Edmundsbury Cathedral to guests from neighbouring dioceses, while special services for Edmundtide will be held in the cathedral the following day. 

Abbey 1000 Celebrations

While individual organisations, businesses and groups are organising their own events for the celebrations, the overall coordination of the celebrations is being done by the Abbey 1000 Group, alongside the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership

The group is made up of organisations in the town that include St Edmundsbury CathedralWest Suffolk CouncilBury St Edmunds Town CouncilOur Bury St Edmunds BID, Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, Theatre Royal Bury St EdmundsGreene KingTreattThe Bury SocietyBury St Edmunds Tour GuidesAshtons Legal and St Edmund’s Church.

The headline sponsors for the anniversary celebrations are: Claas UKTreatt and Greene King.

If you have an event planned for this historic year contact

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