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Join in with the annual wassail

Procession of people in colourful clothing and playing instruments, led by an obby oss, while walking through a wintry field at Cotehele, Cornwall
A wassailing celebration at Cotehele, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Mel Peters

Wassailing is an annual tradition to bless orchards to ensure a good harvest for the year to come. The celebrations involve music, song, dancing and a recognition of what orchards give to us. It dates from the Anglo-Saxon era, traditionally taking place on Twelfth Night, but now wassails usually take place between late December and February. Find a wassail event near you.

Find a wassailing event

Take part in some dancing, clattering of pots and pans and traditional songs when you join in with an annual wassail to bless the orchards. New events are being added all the time, so keep checking back to see if there's one you can join.

See all wassailing events

Musicians playing in courtyard to accompany troupe of dancers with bells and sticks
Dancing at a wassail at Barrington Court, Somerset | © National Trust Images/William Shaw

What happens at a wassail?

Wassailing ceremonies are subject to lots of regional variations, but there are a few hallmarks to look out for:

  • A wassailing ceremony usually starts with all the revellers gathering for a procession down to the orchard – possibly led by a wassail King or Queen.
  • Once gathered round the oldest tree, pieces of toast are places in its branches to entice robins, believed to the guardians of the orchard.
  • Cider is poured around the roots of the tree, while pots and pans are clattered to ward off any evil spirits and wake the trees from their winter slumber.
  • The crowd will also serenade the tree with chants and traditional songs often followed by Morris dancing.
  • No wassail would be complete without tasting the wassail drink, which is usually a local ale or cider blended with honey and spices.
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What's on

Discover what's on near you. We've got plenty of events and activities at the places in our care. From exhibitions to guided walks, there's lots to choose from.

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