The Preston Guild officially opened last night - the unique 10 day festival will see hundreds of cultural, civic, music, dance, comedy and sporting events which will take place across the city.
Preston Guild is celebrated only once every 20 years stretching back over eight hundred years to 1179 when Henry II granted a charter which empowered Preston to hold a Guild Merchant. Originally it was held to keep the Guild Roll - a list of people allowed to trade in the town, known as burgesses but has been transformed into a huge celebration of the city. In fact this is the first guild since Preston was granted city Status.
Following the theme 'Looking back to look forward', the Guild, which is the only one of its kind still celebrated in the UK, will remember history and tradition whilst looking to the future.
Today sees the third and final proclamation and the return of friendship scrolls that have travelled the world.
In 1952 - with the arrival of air travel - Preston Guild went global. Many ex Prestonians had emigrated to far flung places. But even though they lived thousands of miles away they wanted to take part in Preston Guild, so the Guild Scrolls were born.
Since - 1972 and 1992 the scrolls of friendship have been sent around the world to New York, Toronto, Johannesburg, Sydney, Auckland and many more places for ex Prestonians to sign.
Once back in the UK members of Preston Harriers Athletics club ran the scrolls of friendship back in a relay from Manchester airport, through the streets of Preston during the Guild celebrations, when many thousands of people lined the streets, cheering the scrolls arrival from overseas. Today they will arrive from Wigan at Preston train station at 9:51am ahead of the third proclamation and trades fare.
Find out more about the celebrations here www.prestonguild2012.com.