ROSS-ON-WYE will kick start the Gilpin 2020 festival with a celebration of philanthropy and tourism in the streets.

The festival is named after Rev William Gilpin who visited the town 250 years ago and documented his trip with the UK’s first ‘tourist guide’ of the cruises up and down the picturesque River Wye.

The tour proved a success and effectively created one of the first ‘package holidays’ bringing visitors to the Wye Valley who dined at specific locations, took walks to particular viewpoints and visited romantic ruins, making the ‘Wye Tour’ one of the first ‘package’ holidays.

The festival start on November 5 and will include a collection of anniversary events and activities from local organisations including Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, CREATE Ross, Made in Ross, St Mary’s Church and Ross on Wye Photographic Society.

The Gilpin 2020 launch event will include presentations from a range of local voluntary and philanthropic organisations, as well as environmental groups.

Organisers say there will be a colourful celebration through Broad Street and entertainment from local groups, demonstrating how a range of issues, from local to international, are being supported by the local community.

The ancient Market House will also host a produce market and there will be live music from the town band. The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will launch their booklet The Picturesque Wye Tour, which has been written to celebrate the Gilpin 2020 festival.

Ross mayor Jane Roberts said she made it her mission to promote and encourage the work of the local voluntary sector.

“This event celebrates a town working together, to ensure our environment and culture live on for future generations,” she said.

“ I would encourage everyone to wrap up warm and come and meet our local heroes, who strengthen our local community with their philanthropic work. Ross on Wye is a beautiful place to visit, all year round.”

The event will culminate in a procession from the town to light the beacon at the Prospect, the first public pleasure ground in England, which overlooks the launch site of the tour boats.

There will be road closures during the day, on and around Broad Street, to allow for the festivities. For more information on Gilpin 2020 events, the tour and history, visit