UPDATE – this has now been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Next month, Beelzebub himself will rise up from the River Thames, as the Twelfth Night revels make a long-awaited return to Bankside.

Bankside’s Twelfth Night celebrations are a revival of medieval-style mummers plays, and put on by The Lions Part, a troupe of actors who perform the Twelfth Night revels as a free show and parade along Bankside.

The 27th Twelfth Night revels will start outside Shakespeare’s Globe with the arrival of the Holly Man by a barge on the Thames, decked in green garb and evergreen foliage to be greeted by the devil Beelzebub.

The troupe will then Wassail outside the Globe before performing Folk Combat Play at the Bankside Jetty, 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. At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then parade to the George Inn for more revels and mulled wine.

It’s a dose of medieval folk customs and modern revivalism all wrapped into an afternoon of merriment and laughter as we pack away our Christmas decorations after the darks months of covid restrictions.

Assuming it’s not called off by the devil’s work, the whole thing starts around 2pm outside Shakespeare’s Globe on Sunday 9th January 2022 – and is completely free to watch and march along with the actors.


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