Hastings’ own version of the Mardi Gras has been in full swing over the weekend. Today (Sunday) the Umbrella Parade, complete with marching bands, costume and floats, began at The Stade Open Space at noon. This was followed by Preservation Sunday, a traditional jazz and beer festival held at St Mary in the Castle.
Last year the festival generated an estimated £300,000 for the local economy. This year it is even bigger with 250 gigs taking place across 35 venues over the five days, 13th-17th February.
Co-founder Bob Tipler said: “With our strong tradition of making music and dressing up, we are able to embrace the spirit of Mardi Gras better than any other town in the country.
“The aim is to grow the festival year on year to create an inclusive platform where everybody can get involved whether you are two or 102, whether you like heavy rock or chamber music.”
Musicians from all over the UK as well as local acts will be performing at this year’s Fat Tuesday.
Those confirmed include Mancunian acoustic hip hop trio Prose, folk band Skinny Lister, Hastings-based flower punk duo Bosco Rogers, rock band Kid Kapichi, and blues artist King Size Slim who opened for Queen at their London concert on New Year’s Eve.
The centrepiece of the festival is Fat Tuesday itself (February 17, 8pm-11pm), when 16 bands play three sets each at 11 Old Town venues, while there will be live music and DJs at 10 fringe venues, followed by the After Party at West Exit, Robertson Passage and the Brass Monkey, Havelock Road (10pm-3am, £10 for a wristband).
New elements added for 2015 include Un-Convention Hastings, a two-day music industry seminar with panel discussions and sessions led by musicians and industry professionals, including a guitar masterclass from Ace, of rock band Skunk Anansie. This will be held on February 16 and 17, 10am-6pm. Cost is £10 per day or £15 for both days