Jack in the Green is a colourful festival that celebrates the long awaited arrival of summer. Jack is also known as the Green Man and decked out in foliage, usually in a conical (and comical) shape. It was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, but died out in the 19th century as the Victorians were not amused. The whole thing was far too bawdy for their liking. Now several areas are reviving it, as it’s fun to dress up and a good excuse for a party. Three places that have re-started this very English festival are Whistable,Rochester and Hastings. In Hastings, a seaside town on the south east coast of England, it takes place over the May Day bank holiday weekend in the ruins of the Castle.

The best day to attend the festivities is on the bank holiday Monday — this year May 7, although there are things going on over the whole weekend as the town tries its best to eke out as many tourism pennies from the public as possible. The day kicks off in the morning when Jack is released, followed by a grand procession, with everyone making their way through the old town to the remains of Hastings Castle to congregate and watch Morris dancing and eat, drink and be merry. In the main castle area, there’s a stage, along with a beer tent and, hopefully this year, more than two toilets. Over the bridge, in the Ladies Parlour are craft and food stalls. The atmosphere is fantastic, but it’s best to head off before evening, when the town starts to become tired and emotional.

Almost everyone takes the opportunity to dress up and there are some fantastic costumes to see, including the bogies – burly men painted in green, chimney sweeps with blackened faces and the purple ladies Hannah’s Cat.

To find out more about this year’s Jack in the Green, head to the official web site. There isn’t a full programme yet, but it will likely be put up there soon.



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