Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival
2017 Festival Dates: January 6, 7 & 8
Click here to download the program.
Click here to download a Seating chart.
One of the highlights of the Music and Arts Ministry of Asylum Hill Congregational Church is the annual Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival—a celebration of Epiphany through music, dancing, pageantry and live animals.
Demand is heavy for the 4,000 available tickets (which go on sale in November). The addition of local dance ensembles and a fresh approach to music and staging, as well as the addition of court visitors from other lands enables the festival to showcase other music and cultural organizationsbrings and brings renewed energy and vision to the festival. This culminating event of the holiday season continues to attract new people to this active and friendly church. All are invited to Drew Hall after the performance for a gala reception where the ferocious boar’s head, the mince pie and many of the festival properties are on display.
For information on how you can participate, contact Tom Donahue, Boar's Head Festival chair.
Click here for the Hartford's Courant's photo highlights of the 2015 Boar's Head Festival
A Synopsis of the Festival
The church is decorated for a great banquet. Upon entering, our guests are greeted by a brass ensemble, a mime, jugglers, a puppeteer and jesters, recalling the Christmas entertainment provided by the Lord Mayor of the city of London. These festivities originated in the late 15th century and continue to this day. Soon the festival begins as bagpipers catch our attention and we watch a traditional highland dance. A drummer announces the high king and queen who lead a procession of lords and ladies to the majestic Earle of Oxford’s March, written by William Byrd in the 16th century for just such an occasion. A fanfare and singing herald announce the arrival of the boar’s head, symbolic of Christ’s triumph over evil; accompanied by the royal hunter and his attendants, full of pride. A great procession of cooks and staff follows, bringing forth the great feast. Then follow King Wenceslas and his page reminding us to help those in need. The festival builds in intensity to a rousing rendition of Deck the Hall, and woodsmen enter with the Yule log, which represents the rekindling of love. Next, visitors from a foreign land arrive with their entourage offering gifts. The sweeping entrance of our dancers, accompanied by a grand Gloria, signals a spiritual change, as the manor hall becomes a great cathedral for the worship of the newborn King. We prepare ourselves for Epiphany as a small child brings a lighted candle into the darkened church, symbolizing the coming of the light of Christ. We witness the arrival of Mary and Joseph as we listen to the simple melodies of O Little Town of Bethlehem and Once in Royal David’s City. The shepherds, instructed by the angel, find the holy family, as the three kings arrive in majesty and splendor, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. When all have assembled, they kneel in adoration—lords and servants, shepherds and kings—before the Lord of Lords! As the church is darkened and the Epiphany star shines brightly, the Yule sprite returns, and together the child and a simple monk of the church lift up and carry forth Christ’s light to all people.