The spirit of summer to be released

Jack in the Green celebrations
Jack in the Green celebrations

GREEN will be the colour of choice this weekend, as the annual Jack-in-the-Green festival gets underway.

Festivities, which attract thousands of participants and spectators will run from today (Friday), culminating with the Grand Procession on Monday, May 7.

This evening, Old Town musicians The Moors will whet the festival appetite with a performance at St Mary-in-the-Castle, Pelham Place, at 8pm.

Theirs is a unique sound, blending klezmer, Balkan Gypsy music, Cuban rhythms and folk-rock. Admission is £5.

There will also be live music sessions throughout the Old Town such as The Stag, in All Saints Street, The Jenny Lind and The First In Last Out, both in High Street.

On Saturday (May 5), the dancing begins.

From 12.30pm, starting at The Stade Open Space, Morris dancers will be performing across the town, including our host sides, Mad Jacks Morris and Hannah’s Cat.

From 3pm to 5pm will be a free song session with Rattlebag and friends at The Stag, All Saints Street.

This year the Saturday Night Ceilidh at St Mary-in-the-Castle features Peeping Tom. Doors open at 7.30pm for 8pm start. Admission is £9 (£4 children).

On Sunday (May 6) the celebration continues, with the Festival Celebration Church Service, at 10am, at All Saints Church.

Hastings Castle will be a hive of excitement as the Hastings May Queen 2012 is officially crowned at 2pm, and the Garland Competition takes place. Admission is free.

Section 5 Drummers will be joined by Sambalanco, Dende Nation and Rumpeldrumskin in Butler’s Gap, George Street, for the Drum Off from 4pm.

The Copper Family of Rottingdean are to perform at St Mary-in-the-Castle at 4pm for the eighth year in a row.

Doors open at 3.30pm and admission is £5.

Gigspanner perform at All Saints Church at 8pm, when fiddle player Peter Knight is joined by Roger Flack on guitar, and Vincent Salzfaas on congas and djembe.

Doors open at 7.30pm and admission is £9.00 (£4 children).

The evening’s ceilidh will feature Toothless Mary. Expect dirty ‘70s funk from this young band.

Doors open at 7.30pm for 8pm start. Admission is £9 (£4 children).

For something more laid back head to The Big Squeeze, at the Cinque Ports Arms, in All Saints Street, starting at 8pm, and featuring squeezebox players Alan, Goose and Trooper.

Monday, May 5, is the climax of the festival, and the route is as follows: Fishermen’s Museum, All Saints Street, across The Bourne, High Street, Swan Terrace, Croft Road, Collier Road, Priory Road, Ladies Parlour, Castle.

At 9.45am the Morris sides, the Bogies, the Sweeps and a whole host of other characters start to gather at the Net Huts in Rock-a-Nore Road.

At 10.15am to a chorus of Bogie drummers, the Jack is released from the Fishermens Museum in Rock-a-Nore Road. The procession begins and at 12.30pm the Jack arrives in the Castle.

Spectator tickets can be bought at £3 for adults or £1 for children.

From 12.45pm each Morris side showcases their dances. 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.

The castle grounds close at 5pm.

For full details visit www.hastingsjack.co.uk.