The Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival is back for 2018! One of my visual highlights of the year! The procession starts from the goods yard (next to the railway station) at 7pm on Saturday the 3rd of February! Personally, I can’t wait! Expect something a bit different after a year off in 2017. This will be the seventh Imbolc festival I have been to and done photography of since my first one back in 2009 and I urge anybody that has never been before to make a special trip down to this quirky, spectacular, unique event – I certainly enjoy photographing it – quite a departure from my usual wedding and landscape work! Please contact me for any photography licencing requests. I’m available to photograph the 2018 Imbolc Festival if any media organisation requires coverage.
2018 Lantern Making Workshop:
Some photos from the 2016 Marsden Imbolc Festival:
Some photos from the 2014 Marsden Imbolc Festival:
This is an extract from the article I wrote for the Marsden Moods book that gives a bit of background on the festival:
Imbolc marks the time that the earth starts to wake up after it’s winter sleep. The Celtic tradition is over 2000 years old and was established in Marsden in the mid 1990′s. Initially set up by Kirklees Countryside Volunteers as an event for the local folk, it has rapidly expanded and now relies on many local volunteers. There are a few theories behind the name but my chosen one is that it comes from the Celtic “i mbolg” which means “in the belly”, referring to the pregnancy of ewes and the start of their lactation at this time of year, something that is important to Marsden, known for it’s sheep!
This spectacular event starts in the village centre before a lantern procession, accompanied by local Samba bands, to Tunnel End. Here there is a performance by the iplaywithfire fire dancers and Huddersfield University fire jugglers before the Green Man does battle with Jack Frost, representing the start of the new season beating back the cold winter. There is an impressive firework finale then a retreat to the village centre for a warm greeting in one of the pubs and often more fire dances (including one by the fantastic Mr Fox group).
Despite heavy snow falling, around 2000 people turned up to the 2012 Marsden Imbolc Festival so weather is no object! The weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the crowd (quite the opposite!) with vocal support for the Green Man (or in some cases Jack Frost) in the final battle!
Preparation for the event starts in early January with various workshops for making lanterns, costumes and practising skills needed on the night for anybody wishing to take part.
The event starts off at the Old Goods Yard near the railway station – there is usually something going on from a while before the start of the procession with strange creatures, lanterns and even (in the past) Samba bands! Who knows what will be in store this year! The procession leaves the Old Goods Yard at about 7pm to head towards Tunnel End. The procession is headed by mysterious figures carrying balls of fire – quite eerie!
The finale of the performance at Tunnel End sees the Green Man do battle with Jack Frost symbolising the start of the change in the season followed by a firework display.
Events continue in the village centre with one of my favourite performances by Mr Fox
More photos and news from previous years can be found here.
Fingers crossed for some good weather – be it dry or snowy – just please don’t let it rain this year! More information can be found here.