WITH a noisy procession and ceremony, the Headless Cross Community Orchard’s annual Wassail returns in good spirits in the New Year.

The age-old tradition, which sees revellers sing and drink to promote a good harvest for the coming year, takes place for the seventh year in a row, on Saturday, January 6, from 7pm.

Songs will be accompanied by Arrow Valley Brass Band and the event will be followed by a free indoor concert by Ash Mandrake.

Orchard volunteer Gabby Hemming said: “Wassailing is an ancient custom, believed to help ensure a bountiful crop of fruit.

“With shouts, bangs and singing, our ceremony will scare away evil spirits and awaken the trees from their winter slumber.

“In typical tradition, an axe man will threaten the oldest apple tree, whilst our Wassail Queen will offer a blessing by draping cider-soaked toast into its branches.

“So bring drums to bang, whistles to blow and horns to honk!

“To warm our spirits mulled cider and apple juice will be served. All are welcome.”

The wassailing tradition has been prevalent in Worcestershire for over 2000 years, whilst the Headless Cross group have featured in a book about wassailing.

The event takes place outside The Rocklands Social Club from 7pm, with wassail-goers treated to a performance inside from 8.15pm, with music and a unique storyteller.