The Christmas Saunter

1pm Saturday 9th Dec. 2023. 

Starting at the Folk. 

I've had a question as to why there were such a lot of 'strange' creatures in our Christmas parade? To us, the SoG, Christmas events have become too commercialized, sanitised and corny, albeit a little stale, and coated with a sickly coating of Disneyfication.

Christmastide was once upon a time seen as a joyous and mysterious period, a bit crazy and inclusive of the whole community, a celebration of both the season and the mysteries of Christmas itself. So we aim to bring something of the traditional festive fun and malarky back to Christmas in Gloucester.

And so, along with festivities and frivolities at the Folk and St Mary de Crypt, – including mummers plays, wassailing, singing traditional carols and traditional and Steampunk games. There will always be a Christmas Saunter parade on Saturday through Gloucester city centre to spread cheer and a little tomfoolery.

Not so much a ‘run’ as a ‘saunter’ or ‘polka,’ with music. A chance for those older aspects of Christmas traditions to reach out to the wider public. We want people to ask 'why?' because we can tell them about Christmas traditions they have never heard of. Our parade is a celebration of all those alternative characters that have been forgotten and excluded; those other time-honoured Christmas characters drawn from forgotten traditions.

For instance this year we returned the Broad, the traditional Gloucester Christmas Bull to Gloucester's Christmas celebration, a unique Gloucestershire tradition lost for over 100 years. carried by our Lord of Misrule, an English Tradition going back to the Tudor period and beyond. The Green Santa, and the Modern-day Steampunk Santa. We brought Krampuses of WKR to Gloucester. Krampus is a Northern European servant of Santa Klaus, a Christmas tradition going back to Antiquity. Santa's true companion, not a load of Disney Elves.

We had Jultomten, the Yule Goat of Swedish tradition. Befana, The Christmas Witch and her sisters – from Italian tradition. And so many more. All deserve their place in any Christmas saunter and serve to remind us that the Christmas celebration has its roots deep in our shared traditions and cultures, as much as it is a religious festival. It does not belong to Hallmark Cards or Disney; it is not simply about how much you can spend or eat.

We included the street theatre of a speech of Welcome by the Lord of Misrule, the Trial of the Cask, and traditional wassailing songs and Morris Dancing. This year we sauntered down to St Mary De Crypt, to wassail and rouse old Ebenezer, and then on down Southgate St. The Steampunk Christmas Revels will always be about reviving the old traditions and spirits of Christmas before Disneyfication sanitised it and commercialisation obscured its meanings and mystery.

Next Year

A full route will be published here closer to the day.

Below is a list of some of the characters we want to include in the parade (and lots of Krampuses).

If you’d like to adopt any of these personas, please let us know. Otherwise, we would just love you to put on your best and join in on the parade.

Who is going to be in our parade?

Because we want to reach out to the widest possible sections of the community, we will be encouraging participants to take part as their favourite Christmas traditional characters drawn from cultures all over the world, as well as diverse communities within Gloucestershire.

We will, of course, have Father Christmas Mamãe Noel (Mrs Claus) and the usual helper/elves.

Our parade will also include more unconventional Christmas characters from British tradition and all over Europe.

We will have St. Nicholas of Myra, (in this case Dr Nicholas Lambert of Ravensbourne University)

in full regalia accompanied by the traditional Child Bishop (10-year-old Theo Waters).

From British late medieval tradition, we will have the Lord of Misrule and his attendants.

The Lord of Misrule also called Abbot Of Misrule, or King Of Misrule, official of the late medieval and early Tudor period in England, and was specially appointed to manage the Christmas festivities held at court, in the houses of great noblemen, in the law schools of the Inns of Court, and many of the colleges at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. During his reign, which lasted anywhere from 12 days to 3 months, the Lord of Misrule was responsible for arranging and directing all Christmas entertainment, including elaborate masques and processions, plays, and feasts.

The Lord of Misrule’s attendants, The Band of Lusty Guts, will be members of The Jovial Crew, local community folk singers and wassailers ( They will be bringing their wassailing beasts, the Mari Lwyd and The Broad.

( The parade of the ‘Broad’ is a specifically Gloucestershire tradition closely related to wassailing and the Mari Lwyd, that has been lost over the last few centuries – we aim to bring it back to Gloucester as part of our parade.

We are hoping to have at least one Morris Troop and musicians who will provide music as we saunter through the city. We are hoping to have a traditional English Piper – if we are lucky enough to get her.

There will also be the traditional Santa Claus, in green, and his attendants the Krampuses. ( Ross, Kat MansellNimue Brown and the Whitby Krampus Run appearing as guests of honour.

Holly King and Oak King – Tom Brown - local artist, author and folk singerBefana, The Christmas Witch and her sisters – from Italian tradition ( (Sima NaikLouise Bagley and Su Garbutt – members of the Gloucestershire Wiccan Community)

The Snow Maiden

Eastern European tradition (Nikki McCall)

The Christmas Elves and Hobgoblins including El Caganar – from the Spanish tradition - Helen Webster.

The Perchten-  From Austrian tradition (Alex Waters).

The Green Lady -.

And a whole host of other characters from British and European Christmas traditions. 

And, of course, the assembled members of the Steampunks of Gloucestershire Community in all their costumes.

The members of our community make their own costumes and accoutrements. This is as much a celebration of creativity and art as it is anything else.

Create Your Own Website With Webador