THE ANNUAL Lammas Festival is returning to the Western Lawns on this weekend, July 30-31.
The free festival has been held on the seafront every year since 2001.
It will be officially opened by deputy mayor Councillor Mike Thompson at 12.30pm.
The word Lammas comes from the Old English language meaning ‘loaf mass’.
It is a harvest celebration of the Earth’s bounty traditionally held at the cutting of the first corn crop.
Lammas is one of the four ancient pagan festivals which were adopted by the early Christian church and are now celebrated by those of all faiths, or none.
A Lammas spokesperson said, “Our principle aim is to celebrate the time of year and raise money for the RNLI but also to allow local artists to perform traditional music, dance, crafts and story-telling, to enable stall-holders to sell their wares and to have lots of fun.”
The festival has raised more than £8,000 for the RNLI and this year there will be a lifeboat demonstration off the beach below the Western Lawns at 10.30 on Sunday morning, with commentary by the Lifeboat operations manager.
1648 Brewery brew a special Lammas Ale which will be available from the beer tent, along with other fine ales and ciders.
There will also be a range of food for sale and performances from Hunter’s Moon Morris (both days), Pentacle Drummers (Saturday) and Sea Gypsies (Sunday).
All performers and helpers give their time for free.
In 2002 two carnival giants were commissioned to parade at the festival. Last year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival, a new giant was commissioned to represent the figure of John Barleycorn who symbolises the crop at harvest-time.
He will be leading the carnival procession which opens the festival on Saturday, setting off at midday from the Pier and arriving on site at about 12.30 and will also be around throughout the festival.