Jack in the Green 2018 – Proving May Day festivals are here to stay

Giants, jacks, bogies – these are just some of the weird and wonderful characters seen at the annual Jack in the Green festival in Hastings.

For one weekend a year, they descend on Hastings Old Town with the streets covered by over 800 bunches of leaves as the start of summer is welcomed on May Day.

2018 saw an estimated 15000 people line the 1.5 mile route to West Hill where they were treated to live music and performances by Morris dancing teams from across the country before the ‘Jack’ was ceremoniously slain, signalling the end of Spring.

Morris dancers also performed on the promenade throughout the weekend

The Copper Family, who have collected and sung traditional folk songs for the last 120 years, have been at the festival since the late 90s and are one of the few remaining song-collecting family groups in the country.

“It deserves to be acceptable”

Jon Dudley and Jill Copper, who lead the group, couldn’t believe it when they were told a Mecca Bingo poll, published in the Daily Express last year, found 70% of Britons believe that traditions such as Morris Dancing – a Jack in the Green staple, are dying out.

Started in 1983, the event has continued to grow and now the entire bank holiday has become dedicated to the festival, allowing for more variety performers to attend, such as the Copper Family and the Sambalanco drummers.

Hundreds of people formed the procession as it winded through Hastings Old Town

Originally ending inside Hastings Castle, the route now finishes on West Hill and Rachel Roberts, who has helped organise Jack in the Green since 1986, and her partner, Jon Tigwell, who dresses as one of the bogies, described why the West Hill centrepiece is the perfect place to ‘slay’ the Jack.

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