COVENT GARDEN festivals
MR PUNCH'S BIRTHDAY
Why Covent Garden ?
Mr Punch is sometimes described as ‘our National Puppet’
And with good reason. He has been strutting his stuff up and down the Land for well over 300 years.
Samuel Pepys recorded seeing him at Covent Garden in 1662. Admittedly at that time Punch was still a marionette called ‘Punchinello’. But little by little he changed, firstly swapping his all white costume and black mask , for the red and yellow associated with the motley of a Jester.
He kept his humpback and big nose though , and soon he evolved further into a glove puppet able to hold a Slapstick: and the rest, as they say is History.
But this plaque on St Pauls Church Covent Garden commemorates Samuel Pepys diary entry of May 9th 1662.
So it is on Covent Garden that Punch Professors converge twice a year, to do shows and to socialise with fellow performers.
The “Mayfayre” run by ‘Aternative Arts’ is traditionally held on the Sunday in early May that falls closest to Mr Punchs’ Birthday. it is held outdoors in the garden of St Pauls Church Covent Garden.
Although the ‘Mayfayre’ celebrates all forms of puppetry, it is predominantly Punch performers who make their way there from all over the UK, and occasionally overseas too.
Performers walk with their Punches behind a brass band Parade around adjoining streets before converging in front of the Plaque to toast Mr Punches Birthday. Shows then run all through the morning and afternoon.
The other is the Punch & Judy Festival of the ‘Punch & Judy Fellowship’ which takes place under the Portico of Covent Garden Marketplace, in early October again on a Sunday. This event is entirely Punch based, as with the ‘Mayfayre’ performers travel hundreds of miles to perform throughout the day and enjoy the company of fellow Punch folk and enthusiasts.
In 2005 I gained my Full membership of the P.J.F when my show was assessed by a panel of my colleagues at the October
I shall try to attend at least one of the Covent Garden Events each year , and can heartily recommend them to anyone who wants to see upward of a dozen different shows in a day.
Contact me in late April or late September, and I can advise you of the actual dates, which vary slightly each year.
See you there !