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Twelfth Night celebrations

The 2015 TWELFTH NIGHT Celebrations will be held
on Sunday 4th January 2015.

If you haven't been before - and especially if you have - put the 2015 date in your diary!

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

Tudor hat with holly

Woodcut of dancers

"Thank you so much for the wonderful Twelfth Night performance my girlfriend and I saw yesterday down at the Southbank. It was witty, original and informative. We happened upon you all by chance and both agreed that this energetic winter performance was one of best parts of our Christmas this year. I found the pagan symbols of fertility and origins of a British Christmas to be fascinating. Long may you brave the cold & sing loudly!"

Woodcut of a fiddler

The Twelfth Night celebration events:

The Green Man

The Holly Man from the Thames

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man (the Winter guise of the Green Man from pagan myths and folklore) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter, Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man 'brings in the green' and 'wassails' or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe - an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers play

The Mummers Play

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional 'freestyle' Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring the St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old 'Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacularand colourful 'guizes'. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

King Bean and Queen Pea

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed - a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing.