You can’t rebrand cruelty, say campaigners as hunting festival returns to Peterborough

The planned return of a festival celebrating illegal fox hunting to Peterborough has been slammed by national animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports.

The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show and the Festival of Hounds – formerly known as the Festival of Hunting – is due to return to the city this summer.

The show had been forced to relocate after the East of England Showground, where it has traditionally been held, was earmarked for development.

But the Countryside Alliance, an organisation that promotes blood sports, has announced the festival’s return for 2024.

Emma Judd, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Ever since hunting with hounds was made illegal nearly 20 years ago hunts have been trying to overturn the ban or use its many loopholes to keep on chasing and killing wildlife, and perhaps they’d like us to believe that by renaming their celebration of all things hunting that they realise the world has moved on without them.

“However, you can’t rebrand cruelty – especially at the same time as senior law enforcement officials say illegal hunting is ‘prolific’ in our countryside.”

In a landmark move in December 2020, Peterborough City Council banned all forms of hunting including ‘trail’ hunting from its land.

Last year, England and Wales’s most senior police officer in charge of fox hunting crime, chief superintendent Matt Longman, described illegal fox hunting as “prolific” and said the law needed “revisiting”. He highlighted that hunts claiming to be ‘trail’ hunting are instead using the practice as a “smokescreen” for the continued illegal persecution of animals.

The League Against Cruel Sports compiles figures for England and Wales showing hundreds of cases every year of both suspected illegal fox hunting and incidents of anti-social behaviour in which hunts wreaked havoc on rural communities.

Polling commissioned by the League and conducted independently by Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus across Britain showed more than three quarters of the electorate in the constituency of Peterborough (78%) were in favour of strengthening hunting laws and over half (54%) more likely to vote for a candidate who supported strengthening.

Emma said: “Fox hunting is a barbaric blood sport and we are calling on the showground to stop hosting this festival of cruelty.

“It’s time for change. This festival is an anachronism, as is hunting with hounds, and progressive cities like Peterborough should have no room for it. We also call on the next government to strengthen hunting laws so this barbaric practice is ended once and for all.”

The public are being given the chance to oppose fox hunting and to call for hunting laws to be strengthened by taking the following easy to complete action.


Notes to editors

The Hunting Act 2004 came into force in England and Wales in February 2005, and outlawed hunting with hounds. However, its many loopholes and the invention of so-called ‘trail’ hunting, described by the police as a smokescreen for illegal hunting, means it needs to be strengthened or replaced with more robust legislation.

Link to Chief Superintendent Matt Longman’s comments.

Figures showing the scale of fox hunting carnage in the countryside.

Polling was conducted online by Find Out Now between June 11 and June 14 2022, and the total sample size was 5,187 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). MRP Analysis was conducted by Electoral Calculus. Both Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus are members of the British Polling Council.

Download the full data here.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 07496 496454 (24hrs) or email

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage wildlife reserves. Find out more about our work at Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).


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