Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Tenbury Mistletoe Festival, 2016

Tenbury Wells, a pleasant small town on the Worcestershire-Shropshire border, considers itself to be the mistletoe [Viscum album] capital of England,  and holds annual mistletoe auctions and a Mistletoe Festival, held in 2016 on Saturday 3 December.

Bunches of mistletoe tied in red ribbon were abundant around the town.  At 11.15 a.m. the Mistletoe Queen and Holly Prince arrived at the Regal Cinema, where the Queen was crowned by the town’s mayor.  Thereafter they spent most of the day wandering around the town, ‘welcoming visitors and handing out mistletoe.’  Otherwise there was little happening on the streets.  However, there were various performances in the Cinema, and stalls in the Pump Rooms and elsewhere, while in the library people were encouraged to make their ‘own mistletoe Fairy star’, and visit mistletoe-themed display of art by local schoolchildren.  Another attraction was an attempt to ‘beat the world record of 402 kisses under the mistletoe’.  There were
some buyers at the stalls, and some people enthusiastically making stars, but otherwise everything was very low-key.

Shortly before 3 p.m. druids started gathering in the town centre car-park, before leading a procession to the Burgage – an area of open ground – where they and others formed a large circle for a Thanksgiving Ceremony.  This was a strangely moving event, at the end of which a bunch of mistletoe was thrown into the River Teme, in the hope that it would travel out to the sea and bring blessings to the shores of countries around the world.

A little later the pavements of the main street became crowded for the town’s annual Santa Parade; at last the local people seemed to have come out to celebrate.

Thanks to Jonathan Briggs of Mistletoe Matters –  for his advice regarding the Festival.

Revised 5 October 2021.