The Eccentric, Eclectic Fiesta of Mazey Day
Mazey Day begins with a chorus of drums; crashing and banging their way through the streets of Penzance like a riotous, raving snake. No one can sleep after a visit by the Dawn Raiders with their steel drums and loud music, but nobody minds. In fact, their procession is the alarm clock for the town. It’s time to party. If noise, colour and plenty of creativity are for you, then Penzance enjoying its annual Golowan Festival is the best place to visit.
The week-long pagan celebration of midsummer has everything from torch-lit parades, art, music, comedy, film, literature and even a mock mayor vote where the town choses a fake leader for the Golowan festivities.
The centre-piece of the festival is Mazey Day, an eccentric and eclectic fiesta filled with parades of young and old carrying gigantic paper mâché creations through the heart of Penzance. There are five parades and dances through the main high street throughout Mazey Day and I joined my roller derby team as they skated along in the 1pm dinner parade.
Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer as each parade passed, marvelling at the monstrous paper and willow creations that dominated the skyline. This year’s festival theme was Golowan Goes Green, in response to the town’s mission to be plastic free. Inspired by these eco credentials, there were a range of green creations on show, from giant buzzing bees, to towering trees and a menagerie of animals. My ultimate favourite this year though, was the school who had an intergalactic take on the green theme and made a giant Yoda stood on top of a spaceship. I’m fairly sure I heard the Jedi master mutter ‘stop using single use plastics, you must’ as he was carried along by a host of mini Chewbaccas, Darth Vaders, Princess Leias and Storm Troopers… Or it could have been the festival atmosphere, scrumpy cider and warm sunshine working their magic on me.
As I finish the parade and head to The Dock pub on the seafront to listen to local rock bands and enjoy some more scrumpy, I spot a collection of ‘post-it poetry’ stuck to a shop window. The interactive art display is emblazoned with words that say everything from ‘what you are, the world is’, ‘music is healing’, ‘intent is everything’ and even ‘I weed on the allotment’.
This quirky little stream of consciousness, played out on pink, blue and yellow notes stuck to a dusty window reiterates just one of the reasons why I have always had a soft spot for this town. There is something creative, expressive and exciting about West Cornwall. And I love Mazey Day. I don’t think anywhere else could put on a show this huge and keep it feeling like a community of people who just want to get together, wear colourful clothes, dance through the streets and have a party. And what a party it was. Same again next year?
by Cherie Woodhouse