Hastings Music Festival : Fat Tuesday

I’m really lucky to live in such a vibrant and exciting town like Hastings. I don’t really know any other towns that have such a wide variety of traditional events and festivals like we have, and its something that makes you feel connected to the other people in your community.

My grandma worked for The Hastings Observer when she was young and I remember my Dad telling me that she kept loads of old photos of town parades and carnivals and shows. Its such an important part of our heritage and I always feel like everyone knows that when we come together to celebrate. It’s lovely ❤

The social calendar starts off at this time of year with Hastings Fat Tuesday, which has been going for about 8 years now. Incidentally, Fat Tuesday starts on a Thursday. It’s a 6-day music festival, ending on Tuesday (ah, there’s the Tuesday bit) which takes its inspiration from the Mardi Gras festivals in New Orleans and Rio. Mardi Gras traditionally occurs on Shrove Tuesday and its the last day that people can really let their hair down before Lent. It’s all about colourful costumes, good music played by local bands and partying it up in the Old Town. And as usual, Hastings did not disappoint. Like everyone else, I was feeling pretty fed up of the miserable grey skies and feeling poor (I’ve already had to spend all of my January pay cheque on my car insurance – *sob*) so I was looking forward to a good old jolly. I parked my car half way down Harold Road just after lunchtime and walked the rest of the way into the Old Town, which looked worryingly quiet (couldn’t even see any seagulls??) at the far end of the High Street:

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But once I got down to George Street 🙂

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So it was a bit cold, a bit grey – but plenty of people were out and about having fun. After a slightly embarrassing moment of accidentally walking into the men’s toilets in the Jenny Lind pub instead of walking out the door onto the street, I finally found my mates in the Anchor pub. Within minutes, we had been approached by a man with a pack of cards who started doing tricks for us. You always feel a little bit awkward when they are talking through their trick *just in case it doesn’t work and you have to be overly polite* but actually this guy was incredible. He asked me to imagine any card in my head and when I said 5 of clubs, he had a 5 of clubs in his hand. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty smart and can think for myself but nope – I had my mind controlled by a total stranger. I asked if he was local and he gave me his card – Richie Campbell, The Mentalist. Psychological Entertainer. Imagine at parties – ‘Hi Richie nice to meet you, what do you do?’ – ‘Oh, I’m a Psychological Entertainer’. Anyway, Richie was great. If you are having a party, book him – I’ve kept his card:

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So let’s crack on… ‘Unplugged Saturday’ as it’s called is supposed to be about the music after all. Across the Old Town, bars and restaurants were packed out with people listening to live music. It works by rotation – each band plays a set and then moves on to the next venue. You can settle down in your favourite pub and watch all the different bands come through, or you can be a groupie, don your carnival masks, and tag along after the act that rocks your boat the most.

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With over 40 different acts, there is literally every kind of music being played somewhere, from folk music to sea shanties and brass. Unfortunately we were rammed in at the door and kept getting in the way at the Anchor, so we decided to cross the road to Ye Olde Pump House:

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Here’s Nicola and Laura, posing on the stairs. We all seemed to be going for the ‘chequered-scarf-worn-as-a-shawl’ trend… don’t they look lovely xxx

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Once inside, there was plenty more music to enjoy, in addition to some ‘hurricane’ cocktails especially on the menu for Fat Tuesday. These two were bloody brilliant with an electric violin and a box:

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And this woman’s group were fantastic, they got everyone singing along (I think the Hurricanes also helped with the encouragement of singing). Well done ladies!

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Of course we had to take the obligatory Fat Tuesday selfie:

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There was a very surreal moment at one point (probably about three Hurricanes down by this point) when the doors of the pub burst open and in came what could only be described as a whirlwind of colour. We all just sort of watched this amazing group of people dressed up carnival style; falling over each other, clowning about and chanting. Then they all left as quickly as they arrived!

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I managed to run after them and get a few to pose for a quick picture of their costumes in full. Absolutely outstanding effort!

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We went on to the Dolphin pub after that, which is where all the fishermen like to go. It’s decorated with fishing nets and shells and old pictures of the fishing fleet but they’d put up balloons and banners especially for Fat Tuesday and they were serving some pretty delicious chilli and tortillas at the bar which made us all hungry.

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So I have to admit, by this point it was probably about half past seven and we were pretty pissed. (Am I allowed to even say that in a blog??) Considering we had been out since about 2pm and none of us had eaten any dinner, it’s hardly surprising. Feeling slightly defeatist, we all gave each other that ‘shall we go?’ look and we called it a day. But thank you Hastings for putting on a brilliant show, thank you to the incredibly talented musicians who all did amazingly well (I mean come on, imagine having to pack up your guitar and carry it to another pub every 15 minutes all afternoon) and thank you to Tracey, Laura and Nicola who put their heart and soul into having a laugh.

If you are in the area, there is still time to have fun and get involved with the Fat Tuesday festival- today (Sunday) was the Umbrella Parade in the Old Town, complete with marching band and The Sunday Sonics are on at The Printeworks until 11pm this evening. Slim Monday is normally a quieter affair before the big finale on Tuesday, with music from King Size Slim at the Albion pub until 11 pm. Fat Tuesday itself includes the Fat Tuesday Tour including 24 acts across 12 venues, with a wider fringe of events going on throughout the evening. The Great After Show Party will be held at the Brass Monkey and tickets are ten pounds. For more information, visit www.hastingsfattuesday.co.uk or find Hastings Fat Tuesday on Facebook or Twitter.

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