21 Dec 2015
What’s it all about?
The Montol Festival is a six day arts and community festival celebrating the midwinter solstice and Cornish traditions of the past, culminating in the main event, Montol Eve on December 21.
Through the week there are lantern and mask making workshops, strolling bands, carol services, storytelling, Mummers Plays, a ceilidh and late night shopping in Penzance. During the main event the people of Penzance take part in many of the Cornish traditional customs of Midwinter and Christmas including Guise dancing when many people wear traditional masks, dress in disguise and wear mock formal costume. Several fire beacons are lit throughout the town with the chalking and burning of the Mock, the Cornish Yule log and dancing to follow.
Full details of events leading up to Montol Eve are available on the Festival website.
How can you take part?
Montol Eve has the theme of light and darkness so during the proceedings you can listen to traditional music and singing, watch the amazing performers and join in the carols. There are two fire-lit processions to watch, too. The first River of Fire led by the Turkey Rhubarb Guise Band, leaves at 6pm from St John's Hall, with a second torch-lit procession starting at 10.15pm in Chapel Street. Anyone can join the parades, just come dressed in the traditional style of masks, mock posh, ribbons and formal hats. The first return procession is followed by a Montol Party in St John’s Hall and later, street entertainment with guise dancers and musicians in the pubs and on Chapel Street.
Did you know?
Traditionally made from ash wood, the lighting of the Yule Log is an old Cornish tradition. A stickman, or woman, is chalked on the log as a symbol of the death of the old year and the birth of the new and then thrown on the fire.