Celebration of town’s music scene in New Orleans style

Last year's Umbrella Parade
Last year's Umbrella Parade

OVER the next five days Hastings Fat Tuesday festival kicks off the town’s packed calendar of cultural events.

Hastings and St Leonards’ answer to the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras, has grown to become a five day extravaganza that is more than just music.

Fat Tuesday. Photo by Tom Herrington

Fat Tuesday. Photo by Tom Herrington

This year, the Fat Tuesday festivities run from today (Friday, February 8) until Tuesday (February 12).

Festival organiser Adam Daly said: “It is amazing how quickly this event has grown in the four years it has been running.

“It is now attracting a lot of attention for the Hastings and St Leonards music scene, as well as becoming a welcome boost for the local hospitality industry, in what is traditionally a difficult trading period.

“We are very much looking forward to this year’s festival as we have some fantastic new acts and are introducing a number of exciting new events to complement the programme.”

The launch party tonight at The Jenny Lind, in High Street, from 8pm, features The Fat Tuesday Second-Line formed especially for the festival two years ago, with guest vocalists Dr Savage and Cajun Bob.

Tickets for all paid festival events and Fat Tuesday 2013 t-shirts will also be on sale.

Events throughout Saturday range from a tongue in cheek ‘Cardi Gras’ cake sale organised by Ore Women’s Institute (Stade Hall 11am to 3pm), to ‘unplugged’ live music sessions in many bars and restaurants, in both the Old Town (1pm to 6pm) and St Leonards (4pm to 8pm).

That evening, The Roomz, in Western Road, St Leonards, will host the African Mardi Gras Party (8pm to 2am, £5), while the Grande Mardi Gras Ball will be held at Venuu, George Street (8pm to 2am, £10), with the headline act jetting in from Sweden to indulge the crowd with a Zydeco fest.

On Sunday, February 10, as is now traditional, ‘Preservation Sunday’ will see a colourful umbrella parade through the town.

All you need to join in is your Sunday Best and a decorated umbrella.

The procession will be led by the Fat Tuesday Second-Line followed by an array of local musical acts and colourful floats and costumes from the Chess Square on George Street at noon, through the town centre ‘Sambadrome’ (Robertson Street) to Claremont where the fun continues with a street party, market and BBQ.

Yet more music and dancing will be on offer inside The Printworks (1pm to 5pm, £5) - a day for all the family.

‘Slim Monday’ on February 11, is a night of blues performed by King Size Slim held at The Brass Monkey.

This is the calm before the storm and a chance to meet the musicians involved (8pm to 11pm, free).

The main event ‘Fat Tuesday’ on February 12, featuring fancy dress, masks, mayhem and music, sees eight venues host 48 gigs between 8pm and 11pm, followed by the foot-stomping after-show party at the Brass Monkey. Including some very special guests.

Turn to The Guide, p52, for details. At all the events, money will be raised for local charities including Xtrax, St Michael’s Hospice, and The Seaview Project.

Tickets are available online or from The Roomz, Substance, or The Royal Standard.