I wrote a piece at this time last year about Death and Dying in Glastonbury. This was prompted by the launch of the Town’s first ever Festival of Death and Dying, which ran alongside the Town’s Samhain events, giving people the opportunity to honour their ancestors, talk about death in a supportive environment, enjoy art and music on the themes of death and dying and gain practical advice on funeral planning, living wills etc.
The event proved to be a great success, with much positive feedback and I’m delighted to report that the festival is happening again this year and has extended to Wells and Shepton Mallet.
I caught up with Henrietta Lang, one of the visionaries behind the event, to find out what’s new for this year. She told me:
“It’s wonderful to see how this festival has mushroomed from its origins in Glastonbury last year. There are now over 50 events across 3 towns thanks to the womb of Avalon that birthed this new day of the dead. We’ve had an incredible team at the core who’ve worked really hard to get a full programme of attractive events at Goddess House (death doula Marisa Picardo) and Red Brick Buildings (Homelessness lead Rachel Inman).
It’s been really inspiring seeing people come forward and say, ‘Hey, we’re doing this, would you include us?’ or ‘I have this skill, is there space I could hold a workshop?’. It feels like the festival has opened a window on a wave of creativity and passion.
I feel really moved to be listing a calling of names ceremony open to the public at Wells Cathedral and the First Ever All Souls service to remember those dead by suicide, alongside a Mexican day of the day altar and offerings space at Bridie’s Yard and the Glastonbury Dragon’s March. We live in such horribly divided times, it’s great to be part of something that celebrates diversity and focuses on what we have in common. That’s thing about death, it affects us all.
There’s still no charge or tickets for the events. We don’t get paid to do this. We’re asking people to contribute what they can so the festival has a life beyond this weekend and the contributors get their expenses paid.
We’re still growing and learning though. What will happen next year is anybody’s guess. But I really hope more and more people will be inspired to put something on themselves”.
If you would like the name of deceased loved one to be called at Wells Cathedral go to deathfest.co.uk.
The Festival of Death and Dying. Three days of events across Wells, Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet 1-3 November 2019 exploring death and dying to create a death-friendly society – for full programme go to What’s On. Free at the point of entry. Encouraging financial co-response-ability see FAQ’s. You can also learn more on the DeathFest Facebook Page and by reading about the inspiration for last year’s event on my blog post Death and Dying in Glastonbury. .
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