CROWDS have flocked to the many wassails held across Herefordshire.

Morris groups have been very busy entertaining people and the pictures on these pages show a stunning display of tradition.

January has been damp and grey, with the exception of our fantastic wassails. The people of Herefordshire have supported these events enthusiastically and have been rewarded with some great shows, processions and dramatic performances.

Hearty singing, glowing bonfires and torches have lit up the county as people supported local fruit farmers.

Crowds were entertained at the Grange, Leominster, by Leominster Morris, who also gave younger followers a daytime performance to enjoy.

Pictured here are wassails at the Tram at Eardisley, Oldfields Cider and Westons Cider.

With a warm glow from the many torches and a little cider tasting, the cider apple trees that are plentiful in Herefordshire received “awakening ceremonies” and blessings for the forthcoming season.

While the public were entertained and enjoyed music and dance, all of the wassails held raised money for charitable causes across the county.

Wassail has been a tradition important to Herefordshire for centuries. It entails awakening the cider apple trees and scaring away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn.

The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village, the same core elements are present at every performance.

The wassail king and queen lead a procession to the orchard, offering a gift to a nominated tree. Then either poems, songs or incantations are recited before the assembled crowds sing and shout before enjoying some morris dancing, more singing and a tot of cider.

A ‘mummers play’ was also performed at several venues. It offers audiences the chance to watch, and sometimes participate, in an ancient folk play with the story lines often delivered in rhyme.