The tiny North Yorkshire town with the colossal heart

Pickering and its tiny streets are always packed with visitors dressed to the nines, and dancing all day long

Pickering is a teeny weeny little town with a gargantuan personality. It nestles on the southern edge of the North York Moors and is, on the face of it, an unassuming little place. Save for the North Yorkshire Steam train which trundles gently through the town, it is a quiet spot frequented by walkers and railway enthusiasts. 

That is, except for one weekend every October, when the place becomes a demented hotbed of 1940s devotees, as it plays host to the annual War Weekend.

Silk stockings, cigars and fox furs are the order of the day for Pickering's war weekend

The main street becomes a pedestrian zone, along which it is impossible to walk without being accosted for a foxtrot by the local Bobby or serenaded with a chorus of "I'll be seeing you" by a crooner in American G.I. uniform.  

The local crooner will lure you in with his charm and that silky Sinatra like voice
The women of the town always turn out in force with the most splendid costumes and expressions to match

Women in fox fur wraps rub shoulders with Land Army girls, and you are never far from a Jeep or a pair of silk stockings.

Looking beautiful, there are men and women all over town with truly authentic costumes, hair and make-up

This is my favourite thing to do in the Autumn, bar none. Friday and Saturday nights see the men grabbing their girls and whisking them off to the 'Dance' , where a live swing band and singers churn out hit after hit from their second world war repertoire. Even if you can't muster a decent tango it's worth the entry fee just to watch the sailors and wide boys faultlessly showing you how it's done.

A nurse and a General? Why not! This is Pickering's 1940s weekend after all!!

The best part of all is the ingenuity of it all. Locals and visitors go to huge lengths to dress the part. Dogs and babies get in on the act, and it is less like visiting a museum than it is actually living a day in the time that, as a nation, we hold so close to our hearts.

Even the canines get in on the act for the war weekend.

Sadly, you've missed this year's event, but get it in the diary for 2017. My tip of the day? Get your costume early and spare no expense, you'll not regret it.

You're under arrest fella. The comedy makes the day all the more entertaining, as does the parade

This particular 'gentleman' seemed to have been making a proper nuisance of himself all morning, so the local constable had no choice but to cart him off with his illegally acquired collection of (super-sized) ladies' smalls!

Later in the day, a parade of second world war vehicles takes to the streets. The only thing that can stop the dancing as far as I can tell.  

The parade includes army vehicles, vintage cars, Jeeps and steam engines

I found this gorgeous bevvy of Navy Wrens stopping the traffic with their ruby red lippy, although they were quickly outdone (as is so often the case at Pickering) when THIS lady (below) rounded the corner on her bicycle. I have no idea what she was selling, but I don't think it was onions.

Gorgeous Wrens stopping the traffic with their red lippy.
Whatever she was selling, the crowds seemed keen as mustard to grab some

There's no doubt that anyone who attends this event as a normal 21st Century civilian will feel disappointed with themselves for not making the effort. You will be the elephant in the room here, standing out from the crowd so much that you may as well scrawl 'Boring' on your own forehead.  We rented our costumes in past years from the equally fabulous West Yorkshire Playhouse costume warehouse and York based Dress Circle.  

That fox was so very much a fox that I did wonder whether it was actually dead

If you like surprises, and fancy a giggle, please don't miss it next year. And if the weather turns chilly, follow the example of these gentlemen and wrap up warm. 

Crazy but effective. Begging with a p-pot.