Montol Festival - 21st December Penzance
Montol, which in the Cornish language means at the same time balance and Midwinter, is a celebration of the Winter customs once widespread throughout Cornwall, especially those that took place in and around Christmas. Most noticeable of these customs is Guise dancing. Traditionally, participants wear ornate masks to disguise themselves, allowing perfect freedom in their celebrations, a liberty to be someone else for one night only. Quite often the revellers dress in a 'mock posh' style, top hats, black suits and other finery intended in times past to mock the better members in society who in turn would join in by wearing 'mock rags'.
This year the celebration begins at 5:45pm outside the towns imposing granite town hall. From there marchers will be led by the wonderfully dark and strange Turkey Rhubarb Band to the oldest part of the town, the Lescudjack Hill Fort. In near total darkness a large beacon is lit to symbolise 'light in darkness' and the return of the Sun. Later in the evening, back at the hall a free community celebration is held with food and demonstrations of other uniquely Cornish customs.
The climax of the whole event is at 10pm when the costumed Guisers meet in Chapel Street. There will be a immensely and atmospheric parade to the town's sea front where another fire is lit and accompanied by 'The Chalking of the Mock' (not unlike a Yule Log), which marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new. Anyone can take part in the events and are encouraged to dress in the style of the Guisers. Full information about this years event can be found by visiting www.montol.org.uk