Every year – generally on the second Saturday afternoon of April – thousands of students and citizens gather on the cobbled streets of St Andrews to watch Scotland’s oldest historical pageant. At 2pm on Saturday 11th April, the annual Kate Kennedy Procession will leave the medieval gates of St Salvator’s College on North Street.
The Procession traces its origins to the adoration by students of the niece of Bishop Kennedy, the founder of St Salvator’s College, the oldest in the University. This niece was Lady Katharine Kennedy, affectionately known as Kate, the fairest and most beautiful woman in her day. The part of Kate is traditionally played by a first year male student, whose identity is a well guarded secret until the Procession begins.
The crowd’s anticipation builds outside St Salvator’s Quad as over a hundred colourfully-draped characters from the history of St Andrews march out of the medieval gate – characters as diverse as Robert the Bruce and John Cleese, Mary Queen of Scots and Rudyard Kipling — all culminating with the unveiling of Kate.
Horsedrawn coaches, the jester entertaining local children, the Pipe and Military Bands filling the streets with melodies, and Kate’s shield bearers charming the crowds by handing out daffodils are just a few of the happenings that make the Kate Kennedy Procession a special day for town and gown alike.
This event is organised by the Kate Kennedy Trust and the Kate Kennedy Club. The club was formed to revive the procession in its contemporary format in 1926 and the historic student-run group has safeguarded and ensured the continuation of the tradition ever since.