Hastings to welcome in summer at the annual Jack-in-the-Green festivities

Last year's procession. Photo by Frank Copper
Last year's procession. Photo by Frank Copper

PREPARATIONS are under way for this week’s Jack-in-the-Green festival, which runs from May 2 to May 5.

The streets will be thronged with Morris dancers, giants and colourful characters over the weekend.

There is also the usual fare of folk concerts, pub sessions and barn dances and plenty to see on the streets as Hastings once again celebrates the now internationally famous annual May Day custom.

The event culminates in the procession and symbolic slaying of the Jack, releasing the spirit of Summer, on Bank Holiday Monday (May 5).

The Jack-in-the-Green is a man in a cage covered in leaves, and he dances and cavorts around the Old Town on the May Day Bank Holiday Monday. This is followed by the colourful procession of Morris dancers, giants and people dressed in springtime fancy dress.

The procession will move around the Old Town between 10am and noon on the Monday, starting at the Fisherman’s Museum in Rock-a-Nore Road, then go up All Saints Street and down High Street before going up a leafy lane (Croft Road) to the West Hill for the afternoon. The slaying of the Jack will take place at around 3.30pm. After the dancing, the Bogies parade the Jack down to the stage where he is symbolically slain and the spirit of Summer is released for another year.

Festivities kick off next Thursday (May 1) when people can celebrate the start of spring by dancing in the dawn from 4.30am with local Morris sides at the Ladies Parlour on the West Hill.

Other events include next Friday (May 2) when Dirty Spoons will be playing from 8pm at St Mary Star of the Sea Church Crypt. Access is from The Bourne and admission is £3.

On the Saturday (May 3) Morris dancers are performing in town, including Mad Jacks Morris and Hannah’s Cat. People can also join four-piece a cappella group Rattlebag for its popular sing around, now in its sixth year, from 2pm to 5pm at The Stag in All Saints Street on the Saturday. Admission is free.

The Big Saturday Night Ceilidh with Florida kicks off at 8pm at St Mary in the Castle in Pelham Crescent. Doors open at 7.30pm. For full events visit www.hastingsjack.co.uk.