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Twelfth Night celebrations 2024

We wish to express our Heartfelt Thanks
to All who contributed
to our Twelfth Night festival this year.

All we do, we do as volunteers and without funding.
Please, however small it may be,
help us to keep this much loved traditional festival alive.

We hope to see you soon!

Twelfth Night is an annual collective celebration of the New Year held in the Bankside area of London. TWELFTH NIGHT mixes ancient Midwinter seasonal customs and contemporary festivity.
It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

May we wish you a Happy, Healthy New Year: do make a Wassail to yourselves, your families, your friends - and a tree near to you!

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To support us

The Tale of Twelfth Night Video

Our Twelfth Night festivities are rooted in many old festive celebrations, customs and beliefs.

Our Tale of Twelfth Night weaves them together in voice, picture and music.

Tudor hat with holly

Woodcut of dancers

"Thank you so much for the wonderful Twelfth Night performance my girlfriend and I saw yesterday down at the Southbank. It was witty, original and informative. We happened upon you all by chance and both agreed that this energetic winter performance was one of best parts of our Christmas this year. I found the pagan symbols of fertility and origins of a British Christmas to be fascinating. Long may you brave the cold & sing loudly!"

Woodcut of a fiddler

The Twelfth Night celebration events:

The Green Man

The Holly Man from the Thames

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man (from our pub signs, pagan myths and folklore), decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd by Shakespeare's Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and our London Beadle, the Holly Man will 'bring in the green' and toast or 'wassail' the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

The Mummers play

The Mummers Play

The Mummers will then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional 'freestyle' St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old 'Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded since the Crusades.

King Bean and Queen Pea

Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then 'dance' the people along the Thames Path, through the remarkable Dirty Lane to the renovated Soap Yard in Borough Yards, for Dancing, with the Fowlers Molly, Storytelling, Singing and the Kissing Wishing Tree.