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Twelfth Night celebrations for 2021

the Lions part was delighted
to be able to celebrate online
for a Unique Twelfth Night Festival
created especially for 2021
live on JANUARY 5th from 6pm
and was then available for 12 days!

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Twelfth Night is an annual collective celebration of the New Year held in the Bankside area of London. TWELFTH NIGHT mixes ancient Midwinter seasonal customs and 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 our pub signs, pagan myths and folklore), decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd by Shakespeare's Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and our London Beadle, the Holly Man will 'bring in the green' and toast or 'wassail' the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

The Mummers play

The Mummers Play

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

King Bean and Queen Pea

Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.