Bodmin Wassail 2024

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In Brief

Name: Bodmin Wassail 2024
Date: Saturday 6 January 2024 (mostly in the afternoon and evening)
Type: Traditional singing and charity fundraising event. In fact, it’s the 400th edition this year!
Suitable for: Anyone and everyone, especially lovers of tradition and fundraising
Locations: Across Bodmin (see the official website for the exact locations the gentlemen will visit)
Price: Free. Unless you want a pint at The Weavers or The Hole in the Wall, that is…


Cornwall is packed full of traditional events throughout the year but few traditions are as old and as cherished as the Bodmin Wassail. It’s so old, in fact, that when it takes place in Bodmin on Saturday 6 January 2024, it will be its 400th edition.

That’s right. This traditional Cornish event will have been going for 400 YEARS. That should be even more reason for you to head out on that frosty (let’s hope not too frosty…) January day to support this important cultural event.

The Bodmin Wassail 2024 falls, as it always does, on the 12th day and night after Christmas Day. The organisers tell us that it’s ‘an ancient custom first recorded in Bodmin in 1624′. In fact, the organisers are known as ‘wassailers’ and they make their way around the Cornish town bidding people ‘wassail’ in local residential homes, shops, pubs and other venues like the Bodmin Town Council offices.

And for the uninitiated, what does ‘wassail’ mean? Well, the word is thought to have derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means to wish someone or some people to ‘be in good health’. The whole wassailing tradition, in fact, is likely to be rooted in Anglo-Saxon customs, meaning that this 400th edition of the tradition could be more like its 1,000th edition… maybe…

In reality, as with all traditions, all sorts of influences have shaped the wassail over hundreds of years. These days, the gentlemen wassailers don top hat and tails – much of which has been handed down from one wassailer to another over the years – and raise cash for charity as they visit the local venues and sing their hearts out.

The wassail songs themselves are an important part of the tradition. There are three used by the Bodmin gentlemen, with the first being sung on arrival to a venue, the second being crooned during ‘the eating, drinking, storytelling, fundraising and singing that goes on at each stop’ and the last being sung as the wassailers leave to thank their hosts for their kind hospitality.

Of course, we are not telling you any of these songs because you should catch the performances for yourself as the gentlemen head out around town on Saturday 6 January 2024. The wassailers will be making house calls, singing their hearts out in the town and ‘wishing the people of Bodmin a year of good health’.

The 2024 Bodmin Wassail is raising cash for Equally Abled, a social hub in the town for adults and children with disabilities which offers inclusive events and sessions. This is the rundown for the day:

2.20pm – The gentlemen take to the town centre streets.

7pm – They head to the Garland Ox before going to the Mason Arms at 7.20pm.

8.45pm – They are at the Weavers before finishing up at the Hole in the Wall at 10.45pm.

The wassailer’s chosen 2023 charity for the 399th edition was Ourgate, which is run by St Petroc’s Church in Bodmin. The charity was launched during COVID-19 in 2020 and provides toiletries, food and necessary household items to those who need it in the local community. That was pertinent during the height of the pandemic and it’s equally pertinent now as living costs soar at an alarming rate.

Anyone who wants to witness this extraordinary 400-year-old Cornish tradition and give generously to charity can catch the wassailers singing in the town centre on the afternoon of 6 January before the above pubs in the evening. For more details of their whereabouts, check out their official Facebook page or click on the ‘Website’ link above.

Enjoy a fabulous Bodmin Wassail 2024. All that’s left for us to say now is: “So now we must be gone to seek for more good cheer…” If you know, you know…