Monday, 5 September 2011

What the heck is a Hop Festival?

The Faversham Hop Festival is an annual event celebrating the long-gone days when families would come down from London (and other places, too) to harvest the hop in the fields and make money before the hard winter months. In the evenings, they would play music, dance and tell stories outside their makeshift camps.

The modern festival (1990) is a fun way to remember those early hop-pickers through song and dance. The music, dancing, and parade are free entertainment.

There are also live performances in most of the pubs in town. My hubby (sadly no pix of him) had fun singing 6 of his new songs at the singaround at the Bull on Tanner Street.

Music, dancing, craft booths, food vendors, and beer. Yes, the hops are used to make beer.

Even though we don't drink alcohol, hubby and I are happy to support the festival as it is really more about families and having a fun day out.

It's also good for the local Faversham small businesses.

The local shops make up fantastic displays during the Hop Festival commemorating those original families.

The best display I saw was the one at Obidosh on Preston Street. It was awesome. Why it didn't get an award makes no sense. :P

There were lots of Molly dancers on Saturday. Blackened faces (originally with soot, today with face paint) dressed in black garments adorned with scarves, ribbons or sashes.

Originally all males, with one dressed up as a woman, Molly or Bessy. Today both men and women dance. And not all paint their entire faces.

Me giving away free pencils to the kids at the Hop Festival info booth. We sold t-shirts, tea towels, canvas bags and teddy bears to promote the Festival.

In all it was loads of fun. If you are ever in southeastern England the first of September, be sure to come to Faversham. You'll have a blast.



  1. I'm putting Faversham on my list for my dream trip. It looks like a delight, especially if I can hit it on September first. I'm enjoying your blog!

  2. @Petrea: Thanks! It's a gorgeous village with hundreds of "listed" buildings. Which means they are old and protected and you can live in them, but you have to preserve and keep them up to a certain standard. During the summer there are two weekends where folks open their houses so you can go inside and check them out. Very cool. x

  3. Okay then! That's when I'll come!

    I'm so nosy that seeing inside someone's house is more interesting to me than a festival. Plus I love architecture, especially the older kind.

    It sounds like you've found a fascinating place to live. I hope you're feeling at home there.

  4. What a wonderful life to experience such culture! Def one on my dream stop too! ; )

  5. @Sheri: The trick is to not try to cram too much into one all encompassing dream trip. Plan a couple small hops across the pond. That way you get to experience it like the natives! :D

  6. Er - it ain't a village! It's a market town. And if you ever come to the Hop Festival on either Saturday and Sunday morning, you get to see me and my fellow "stunt Pearly Kings and Queens" singing on the main stage, and my son compering the Preston Street stage. And various members of my family performing in bands. We are the Whitstable Mafia.

  7. @Lesley: You are absolutely right. It is a "market town." I write this blog for Americans, though, so I like to use terminology that makes sense to us. A town in the US is a LOT bigger than a town (market or otherwise) in the UK. To us, Faversham is a tiny village. It's all relative.

    To set the record straight: Faversham is touted as: "Faversham – Market Town of Kings" mainly because King Stephan (the last Norman king) loved Faversham. He founded the Faversham Abbey in 1147, and was apparently buried there, although he's not there anymore.

  8. That's very interesting. I understand why you'd label it a village for Americans, but I'm pleased to learn the distinction between village and market town.