There's a 900-year-old Medieval Cider Festival coming to Manchester

The Wassail Festival is an age-old drinking ritual intended to endure a good cider harvest.

By Alex Watson | 10 January 2020

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All the way back in those Medieval times, when everyone had some form of pox and witches roamed the lands, the cider producing counties in the South West of the country took part in Wassailing – a ceremony that looked to awaken the cider apple trees and scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit for the year.

Each ceremony would vary from village to village but they generally all involved singing, dancing and even Wassail Kings and Queens – both being hoisted into the apple trees to give a toast to the tree spirits.

Sure, they were clearly all idiots, but it does sound like a lot of fun and the perfect excuse for getting hammered on cider.

Friday 17th January will see the Wassail tradition come to NOMA as they host a massive festival intended to both bless their very own orchard and also have a bloody good time.

The family-friendly event will start at 4.30pm and see people apple pressing, the planting of new apple trees, crafts, games and of course – plenty of cider from Dunham Press Cider for sale.

At 6pm they’ll be crowning their very own (and unsuspecting) Orchard Queen who will recite a blessing, hang toast in the trees (!?) and pour some cider at its base. The full tale and history of the ceremony will then be told by host Dan Hasler from The Orchard Project.

The event will end at 6.30pm where then party will then move to The Marble Arch Pub where a Wassail Band will be playing some old-timey tunes and there’ll be even more apple and cider-orientated fun.

Sounds weird. Sounds brilliant. I’ll see you there.


The Old Twelvy Night Wassail

Venue: One Angel Square, NOMA
Date: Friday 17th January
Time: From 4.30pm
Cost: FREE

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