Wassailing is an ancient custom that was once popular throughout Somerset, the word ‘wassail’ thought to derive from the Old English term ‘waes hael’ meaning ‘good health’.
Ceremonies vary from place to place, but the tradition generally involves visiting apple orchards, reciting rhymes, singing songs, banging pots and pans – and making merry! The original purpose was to wake the apple trees and ward away ‘evil spirits’ to encourage a bountiful harvest for the coming year.
Traditionally it was held on Old Twelfth Night, the 17th January, and happened all over the country but especially in apple-producing regions. The age-old tradition first returned to Midsomer Norton in 2017.
Midsomer Norton Wassail, Midsomer Norton Town Park, 3rd February 2024, 10am – 3pm
10am–12pm at Unit 14, 14 South Road, BA3 2EZ
12.15pm – High Street procession with live music (Starting outside Unit 14, BA3 2EZ)
12.30pm (or upon procession’s arrival) – Mummer’s Play at the entrance Midsomer Norton Town Park
12.55pm – Wassail Ceremony at the entrance Midsomer Norton Town Park, led by Trevor Hughes (Master of Ceremonies)
13.15pm – Music and Morris Dancing with Cam Valley Morris Men at the entrance Midsomer Norton Town Park
Event close between approximately 2.30pm
Workshop information (Inside and outside Unit 14, BA3 2EZ)- 10am-12pm
Bird Box Building – Come join Somer Valley Rediscovered & Bath College for a nest box building workshop and build your own nest box that will be put up in the Somer Valley Green Space.
Willow Weaving Dragonflies – Using locally sourced willow from Somerset, you will learn the fundamentals of willow weaving, taking home your own beautifully handcrafted dragonfly! This workshop is being led by EcoWild.
Noise Makers Join Studio Meraki for a drop in workshop to make ‘Noise Makers’ to play in the Wassail procession and help wake the trees in time for spring. All ages welcome and all materials provided. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.
Make your own crowns before the event!
We are encouraging Wassailers to make their own Wassail crowns to bring to the event. If you need some inspiration, why not look at these great resources created for this event.
We will also be joined by Avon Wildlife Trust to chat to people about the Trust’s local projects and reserves. Their purpose is to raise awareness of the work the Avon Wildlife Trust is doing locally, provide environmental education and, if of interest, encourage further support of the Trust through membership.
This event has been made possible by a grant from Historic England as part of their High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HS HAZ) initiative, which will bring new cultural events and activities to Midsomer Norton up until March 2024.