When it’s the 26th October and a Saturday before Samhain (Halloween) so that can mean only one thing! It’s #DarkGathering time at Boscastle.
The All Hallows Gathering, or Dark Gathering as it is most commonly known, is celebrated on the Saturday before Halloween each year. This conveniently falls upon the half-term holiday so it enables families and children to attend which adds to the all important theme of ancestors at this time of year.
It is basically a seasonal festival with dynamic performances from Morris dancers, musicians and the all important meeting of the Welsh Mari Lwyds with our Cornish Oss, Penkevyll marking the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. The main venue of these performances is outside the famous Museum of Witchcraft & Magic in the pretty village of Boscastle, Cornwall.
And we are going!! All booked into a cottage, so we headed down on the Friday 25th to get all the travelling done, before the event day. Staying at Bodmin in a cottage called the Nest.And what a cosy romantic nest this is. A perfect getaway for us newly empty nesters. We are definitely finding our feet with being a couple with no responsibilities anymore.Friday is arrival day and first up is King Arthur’s Hall. It’s raining and we look bedraggled but loving life.Rain was terrible,but we walked anyways to kill time before check in. Looking for the remains of a rectangle ruin, claimed to be King Arthur’s hall. It was boggy underfoot, not signposted at all. And much further than I thought, but we found it, after walking through the gatekeeper cows, that admittedly terrified me.Thankfully hoseseasons let us check in hours early though. As after this walk we were drenched.Saturday arrived, I adorned as many clothes as possible, as rain was horrendously bad. Packed spare clothes too, armed with a lantern for later, we headed to Boscastle.The festivities start at 12pm with storytelling, so while that was on we did some walking around valenicy valley which sadly was flooded, so off to the coastal route to stroll before the dancing begins.At 3pm the crews gather to watch the groups of Morris dancers.Braving the cold and wind while they dance away.Once the dancing is over, there’s a quick opportunity for us to grab some snacks and drinks, I also change my clothes and grab gloves.When we return, it’s dark now, lanterns lit and the procession begins, the mood is more sombre the beat slower.
The real reason we are here has begun. Remembering lost loved ones, being grateful and blessed for all we have, while honouring those that have passed.It’s a deeply emotive time, a beautiful ritual, calling on ancestors to be with us. I was greatly moved and highly emotional , what a reflective thought provoking event.
And honestly I couldn’t video or photograph it, as it felt disrespectful to do so.When it finished and we drove home, the tone of the procession and ancestors honouring stayed with us for hours afterwards. I believe this will be our new tradition to do each year. Already planning next year’s.