Not All Heroes Wear Capes; Some Wear Stilts - St Leonards Festival Review

Warrior Square Gardens was taken over by artists, food vendors, and entertainers for the annual St. Leonards Festival. Here’s our pick from the day’s highlights…

The main thing I love about beautiful St Leonards, is its inclusivity and celebration of people from all walks of life. St Leonard’s Festival this Saturday, the 29th of June, was a delightful revelry in all that there is to love about our town. 

Something for everyone to enjoy

Warrior Square Gardens, normally a tranquil park was taken over by artists, food vendors, and entertainers. The day was a free, family friendly occasion with something for everyone. From storytelling, face painting and hula hooping for the little ones, to music, food stalls and a market on Kings Road for the not-so-little ones.

A personal highlight of the day for me was a heartwarming performance from the Boathouse Signing Choir, who simultaneously sang and signed along to songs including Katy Perry’s Roar, and A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman. Seeing the friends and family of those on stage signing along in the crowd was a beautiful sight to see.

The Boathouse Signing Choir

An amble through the various stalls set up around the gardens shed light on the issues local people care about around our town. Sustainability seemed to be a big driving factor behind a lot of these causes. This was also reinforced with the many recycling points around the venue, which was a nice touch. 

Time for lunch!

Lunch was a delicious mix of stewed beans, plantain, and dumplings from the ladies at Mama Putts, an African-Carribbean restaurant on Kings Road that offers a variety of plates that are near on impossible to find anywhere else in Hastings. The prices are really reasonable and the food is always amazing.

Stewed beans, plantain, and dumplings from Mama Putts

My choice was a great vegan option that I will definitely be having again, whilst my boyfriend, enjoyed curried goat with coconut rice (which I can confirm was delicious too!) It was also great to see that they were offering wooden utensils to eat with rather than plastic for a more eco-friendly experience. I’d highly recommend paying Mama Putts a visit the next time you are looking for somewhere to eat in St Leonards.

A twirling, swirling procession

After a quick toe-dip in the sea to cool off just down from Goat Ledge, we wandered up to the promenade to watch the procession that started at Azur and came all the way along the front. The drummers were out in full force with their entrancing beat that is instantly recognisable and completely nostalgic as a born and bred Hastonian. (Anyone who lives in Hastings knows it’s not a real event unless there are drummers.)  

Colours of St Leonards’ parade along the seafront

I take my hat off to the guys who led the procession, dancing, skipping, and twirling the whole way along, all the whole about 5 feet off the ground. I’m seriously impressed. Not all heroes wear capes, some wear stilts.

Celebrating the best local musicians

The absolute highlight of the day though, had to be Kissmet. A Bhangra-rock fusion band who had everyone on their feet and turned the gardens into a party before they had to dash off to play a midnight set at Glastonbury!

Bhangra-rock fusion band Kissmet

Their energy and positivity, along with the message of acceptance and enjoying life no matter what it might throw at you was infectious. I challenge anyone to watch these guys and tell me they didn’t plant the biggest smile on your face.

Everyone on their feet, dancing!

St Leonards Festival 2019 was an opportunity for everyone to enjoy a day free from judgement, free from expectations, and was a real chance to celebrate everything that makes each person different. We are all individuals and that is what makes each and every person special in this world.

In a time of political turmoil and worldwide unrest, St Leonards is a shining example of multiculturalism, acceptance, community, and letting our little bit of weird hang out for the world to see. Our little town did us very proud.

Although the festival is over for another year, there are always exciting things coming up throughout St Leonards and Hastings. Coming up on the 3-7th July, Hastings Beer and Music Festival is set to take over The Oval for 4 days of music, beer, merriment, and more beer. More information on this can be found here. We hope to see you there!