Lammas Festival brings folk traditions to Eastbourne

'John Barleycorn' ritual  at the Eastbourne Lammas Festival. Picture by  Simon Jeffs

'John Barleycorn' ritual at the Eastbourne Lammas Festival. Picture by Simon Jeffs

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A colourful carnival procession will kick start the Eastbourne Lammas Festival on July 25 and 26, led by the figure of John Barleycorn.

It will mark the cutting of the first corn crop, a traditional celebration of the beginning of harvesting season.

Please find attached three images of the 'John Barleycorn' Ritual taken at the Eastbourne Lammas Festival on Saturday 26th July 2014 to be considered for publication in the Eastbourne Herald.' 'Best wishes' 'Simon Jeffs SUS-140728-090001001

Please find attached three images of the 'John Barleycorn' Ritual taken at the Eastbourne Lammas Festival on Saturday 26th July 2014 to be considered for publication in the Eastbourne Herald.' 'Best wishes' 'Simon Jeffs SUS-140728-090001001

The word ‘Lammas’ comes from the old English for ‘Loaf Mass’, a celebration of a harvesting abundance of corn. Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh, a name derived from that of the Celtic Sun God, Lugh.

On Saturday July 25, Morris dancers, drummers and musicians will be performing in the morning at various spots throughout the town, before setting off from Eastbourne Pier at midday and marching in procession, arriving at the Western Lawns at approximately 12.40pm, where the festivities continue throughout the afternoon.

Now in its fourteenth year, the festival raises money for the RNLI, and Lammas welcomes members of the public to join in with the procession.

Festival-goers are encouraged to accessorise with flowers, feathers, floral crowns, face paints and fairy wings.

Lammas Festival in Eastbourne. Picture by Graham Huntley

Lammas Festival in Eastbourne. Picture by Graham Huntley

Eastbourne Borough Council lead cabinet member for Culture, Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said ,“Lammas Festival is a big part of Eastbourne’s festival calendar, and unique to folklore within Sussex. The Lammas festival, which is free to attend, is traditionally a time of transformation and new beginnings and celebrated with an open air Ceilidh, folk rock music, folk dancing and of course an abundance of delicious food to mark the harvesting season.”

From oven-baked pizzas to crepes and specialised vegetarian catering to an artisan chocolate workshop, the festival will be a celebration of edible treats, as well as dancing, storytelling and music. Real ales from local 1648 Brewery, including the specially brewed “Lammas Ale” will be flowing throughout the weekend.

From 11am on both days, stalls will be open on the Western Lawns showcasing arts and crafts, including pole lathe demonstrations and the ever popular Matthews Mousetown. On Saturday (July 25) visitors can enjoy a large variety of performing arts such as belly dancing from ‘Sea Gypsies’, an acoustic set from folk rock band, ‘Touchstone’ and Lammas favourites, ‘Ragati String Band’, ending the end with ‘Hunters Moon Morris’ leading the Ritual Celebration of Lammas.

With Blueshift Jazz Band giving out Sunday jazz vibes and a mix of humorous and thought-provoking folk music from ‘Black Strap Molasses’, Sunday will see another great line-up of visual arts, as well as a lifeboat demonstration at 11am from the RNLI. The Open-Air Ceilidh, led by The Moonlighters, ends the Lammas celebration in traditional folk style.

Bringing culture and the carnival atmosphere to Eastbourne’s Western Lawns, the festivities of Lammas lead the way for more whimsical celebrations throughout the year, marking Eastbourne’s unique cultural offerings.

Steampunk Festival on September 12-13 combines old-world Victorian dress and traditions, with futuristic Cyberpunk curiosities, with a masquerade ball on Saturday September 12.

On October 3, Eastbourne Bonfire Society will lead a torch lit bonfire procession on the seafront, welcoming bonfire societies from across Sussex, the bonfire capital of the world, ending with a firework finale on the beach.

For more information visit www.lammasfest.org or call the Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre on 01323 415415. To book accommodation visit www.visiteastbourne.com.

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