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Ensuring a good apple harvest

Orchard Queen Bianca with her companions

Around 50 people gathered at Lily Hill Park last Saturday evening to take part in a traditional orchard Wassail.

Wassailing is an ancient practice to ward off evil spirits and ensure a bumper crop of apples the following year. The family friendly event saw performances by the OBJ Morris Dancers and the selection of a Wassail queen ‘Bianca Askew-Gallipoli’ to lead the ceremony.

The blessing, which took place in the park’s community orchard, involved placing cider-soaked toast into the apple tree branches to feed the good spirits and making lots of noise to scare away evil spirits. Everyone then sung the Wassail song before heading back to the warmth of the bonfire where they enjoyed further music, apple pies and juice.

This is the eighth Wassail to have taken place at Lily Hill Park since 2011, and the event which is organised by the Bracknell Forest Council Heritage Parks Team, continues to grow in popularity.

Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, resources & public protection, said:

"We are delighted that so many people participated in our Wassail this year. Events like these encourage a real sense of community spirit and help to keep an ancient tradition alive."

A list of events taking place in parks and countryside this winter and spring can be found on our parks events page.