Fat Tuesday returns to Hastings

Part of last year's Fat Tuesday procession
Part of last year's Fat Tuesday procession

THE third annual Fat Tuesday spectacular kicks off this weekend, culminating in the main musical event on Tuesday evening (February 21).

The first major event in the town’s festival calendar is set to transport all the colour, costume, music, and mayhem of the New Orleans Mardi Gras to Hastings and St Leonards.

Each day of the festival has its own distinct flavour, with the largest scale events to be Preservation Sunday (February 19), and Fat Tuesday itself (February 21). Sunday’s event is set to be more of a family day. It features a jazz and umbrella procession, with umbrellas decorated by local children as part of a Radiator Arts half-term workshop, followed by celebrations at the America Ground.

Tuesday evening will see a live music extravaganza take place at eight venues throughout the town, featuring local acts and two high-profile recording artists.

Organiser Bob Tipler said: “The ambition is to grow Fat Tuesday into an all-singing, all-dancing arts festival.Hastings is a big festival town, it is something we are really, really good at. The idea is that in five or 10 years time, it will bring thousands of people into the town.”

Organisers hope to raise a record amount for this year’s nominated charities, the Seaview Project, which provides services for marginalised and vulnerable people, and St Michael’s Hospice.

More than £2,500 was raised at last year’s festival and the aim is to double this total. The majority of the events are free, but revellers are encouraged to make a donation.

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Saturday, February 18

THE CAJUN KITCHEN. From 1pm. The Stag, 14 All Saints Street, Old Town.

Well-travelled chef Simon prepares a buffet of tasty Creole food, bringing the real flavours of Louisiana to Hastings.

Expect seafood, game, full flavoured ‘gumbo’ stews, spicy surprises and some exquisite sweets. Vegetarians won’t go hungry either.

Traditional Cajun music is provided by Les Petit Chiens.

Tickets for the buffet are £10 and are available on a first come, first served basis.

Call 01424 425734 to reserve tickets. The Stag is free entry as usual. Collection on behalf of St Michael’s Hospice.

CRESCENT CITY LIMITS. From 9pm to late.

Bar Blue, 22 Grand Parade, St Leonards. Tel: 01424 435100.

Sarah Janes (once part-time New Orleans resident and enthusiast), founder of The Bohemia Club and co-editor of The Bohemian magazine, hosts a night of the very best of the Big Easy’s alternative music scene.

Wear purple, green and gold. Free entry, but collection on behalf of The Seaview Project.

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Sunday, February 19

PRESERVATION SUNDAY. From 10am Old Town and on to the town centre.

A day where the spirit of a traditional New Orleans Jazz and Umbrella parade is recreated.

Some of the familiar brass players from the Hastings Jazz scene are putting together their own ‘second line’ band to lead a procession from the Old Town to an atmospheric venue in the town centre’s America Ground for an afternoon of music and dancing. All venues are free entry but a voluntary donation of £2 per person is suggested, which will be donated to St Michael’s Hospice.

10am – Jazz Breakfast and parade warm up at the Jenny Lind, 69 High Street.

Noon – Gathering at the Chess Square, George Street – dress up and bring an umbrella or parasol.

1pm – Procession led by drummers and the ‘Filthy Half Dozen’ second line band, from Old Town to The Print Works, 14 Claremont (next to the library in The America Ground – town centre). 1.30pm to 5.30pm. Music, dancing, food, drink and good times at the Print Works.

6.30pm - Special Preservation Sunday evening performance with The Lucky Ones. Jenny Lind, 69 High Street.

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Monday, February 20

SLIM MONDAY. From 8pm. The Brass Monkey, Havelock Road. Featuring King Size Slim.

A chilled night for a quite drink and a chat, listening to a musician at the top of his game.

This is the pre-Fat Tuesday gathering of musicians and support crew who help to make the event into the special night that it has become, and a chance to catch up with the acts playing this year. Free entry.

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Tuesday, February 21

FAT TUESDAY LUNCH SPECIAL AT COAST. From noon.

Delicious and authentic Creole lunch menu from the kitchen at Coast, the training restaurant at Sussex Coast College, in Station Plaza.

Booking essential. Call 01424 458535 or visit www.sussexcoast.ac.uk/retail/coast-restaurant.html.

FAT TUESDAY. 8pm to 11pm.

This year eight pubs (Pissarros, The Filo, The Jenny Lind, Porters Wine Bar, The Dragon Bar, The Nelson, The Standard and The Dolphin) play host to a rotation of 16 bands.

An experience of chaotic party pleasure featuring some of the best loved local acts and world-class recording artists, including James Hunter Trio and Liane Carroll.

Whom to see? Where to go? It’s all part of the fun of the night.

See how many bands you can catch, see how many strings of beads you can collect, see how many pubs you can visit, see how many friends you can recognise under their masks.

All venues are free but a voluntary donation of £2 is suggested, to be made to our door collectors, which will go to the Seaview Project.

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

FAT TUESDAY AFTER PARTY. 11pm to 3am. The Brass Monkey, Havelock Road.