Stroud Wassail

Where: Stroud, Gloucestershire - town centre, Museum in the Park and Subscription Rooms
When: Second Saturday in January
Time: From 10 am with Procession at 12.30 and Wassailing at 1pm (outside Sub Rooms) and 3pm (Museum in the Park) and Revels at 7pm (Sub Rooms)


Wassailing is a traditional luck-bringing custom dating back at least a few hundred years; the word has its origins in the Old English toast “waes hael” meaning Good Health. Wassailing is currently enjoying a much overdue revival to brighten up the dark days after Christmas, and there are many events around the country, mainly in January but not invariably so. At Stroud, the modern revival of wassailing is a rapidly growing phenomenon based upon the ancient traditions of the locality – it only began in 2014 yet already attracts hundreds of performers and even more spectators.  Expect singing, morris dancing, drama  and a parade of beasts including local character the Broad, a hobby-horse-like bull figure with horns, peculiar to the district. The Broad chases the wassailers when they demand entry to the Sub Rooms following a singing session outside, before all are invited in to share beer and cake. There are a few traditional carols associated with wassailing and Stroud has its very own version (see the website link for words and music); Stroud also has a special decorated wassail bowl, which today is used for collecting donations, so don’t be tempted to take a swig. During the evening, the festivities continue at the Sub Rooms, based on traditional Twelfth Night entertainments including more mummers plays, music, singing, a ceilidh,King Bean and Queen Pea and maybe a drink or two…

Helpful Hints

In 2019 it will be on Saturday January 12th with performances throughout the day and evening. In addition, on selected dates through December and into January, the Wassailers visit local venues to perform plays, songs and music which follows the Gloucestershire tradition of visiting wassails, where the entertainers visit the audience rather than vice versa (see website for details).

For the full schedule of events and timings, visit the event’s own website (link below).

Click here for the event website:

and here for the Facebook page:

Many thanks to Robin Burton for all the helpful information and the photos!