For those new to Hastings the sheer range of festivals, parades and community events can be exhilarating, exciting but sometimes bewildering.
Just what on earth is Fat Tuesday? Is it on a Tuesday and does it have anything to do with being fat?
As a relative newcomer to this small but fun-loving town on the south coast I’ve been on a mission to find out.
While few people outside Hastings may be familiar with the term “Fat Tuesday” most will have heard of “Mardi Gras” and, literally, Fat Tuesday is the French to English translation of Mardis Gras.
Traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday, such celebrations were a chance for people to let their hair down before the onset of Lent and, supposedly, a long period of sobriety.
New Orleans and Venice have renowned Mardi Gras celebrations, Venice has Carnivale and, for the past eight years, Hastings has had Fat Tuesday. Running from Friday, 24th February through to Tuesday 28th, it’s a long weekend of fun, colourful parades and lots (and lots!) of live gigs.
You can find the full programme on the website: Hastings Fat Tuesday, but highlights include:
Fat Friday – Friday 24th: Things kick off on the Friday evening with a performance from 20yo singer-songwriter Marie White.
Compared to the likes of Tracey Chapman and Macy Gray, she’ll be performing short sets over the course of the weekend but this is a chance to see a full show.
Unplugged Saturday – Saturday 25th: 40 acts play fifteen minute sets in a variety of venues, equating to an afternoon of 200 gigs across Hastings Old Town, from acoustic rock to Folk to Blues and much more besides.
Off Axis – Sunday 26th: Again, Hastings comes alive with a mega-run of gigs. 32 acts from across the country, play in 4 town centre venues, with a gig starting every 15 minutes between 1pm and 9pm.
It’s a live showcase for some of the best emerging, unsigned acts in the UK and afterwards it’s followed by an after party with Hastings-based punk folkies Matilda’s Scoundrels at The Fountain on Queen’s Road.
Thee Sunday Sonics – Sunday 26th: On the more arty side there’s Thee Sunday Sonics, a one-day celebration of avant garde electronic music, video art and spoken word.
UnConvention - Monday 27th: UnConvention is a one-day music conference aimed at the grass roots of the industry and The Palace on the seafront plays host to the official launch of Hastings & Rother as a Music City.
There will be a session on Music Cities and Music Tourism at 11am, followed by the formal launch at 1pm. It’s free but do register in advance here: UnConvention/Monday/
The Fat Tuesday Tour - Tuesday 28th: Fat Tuesday night itself runs from 8pm-11pm and as well as fancy dress and all kinds of frivolity there are 24 bands playing 20 minute sets across 12 venues, headlined by Britpop trio, Dodgy.
No serious music lover could deny what a fantastic and varied selection of music will be available over the course of the weekend.
But for someone like me, who can get spoilt for choice at a summer festival when there are just two stages, how can you make the most of it and how can you take in as much as possible without getting completely overwhelmed?
I sought advice from seasoned Fat Tuesday regulars via social media. David advises: “The participating pubs do get very crowded and if you eventually find somewhere you like my advice is to stay where you are and let the bands come to you!”
See you there folks.
Let the good times roll.