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Malvern Well Dressing Festival Returns With New Coronation Theme

The Malvern Well Dressing Festival is set to return with a theme fit for royalty.

The popular festival, which will be held from Saturday, 29 April to Sunday, 7 May 2023, will see more than 50 wells creatively decorated in the theme of 'Kings and Queens'.

Malvern Well dressing
Malvern Well dressing

The origins of well dressing can be traced back to ancient pagan and Christian traditions in England. The custom of decorating wells and springs with flowers and other natural materials is believed to have originated as a form of thanksgiving for the gift of water, which was essential for life and agriculture in rural communities.

Pagan origins: Some historians believe that well dressing has pagan origins, dating back to pre-Christian times when people worshipped nature and natural elements. Decorating wells and springs with flowers and other offerings were a way to honor and appease the spirits or deities associated with water, seeking their favor and protection.

Christian origins: With the spread of Christianity in England, the practice of well dressing became associated with Christian beliefs and traditions. It is believed that early Christian missionaries and monks adopted and Christianized the pagan custom of well dressing, incorporating it into Christian festivals and celebrations.

Malvern Well Dressing Festival
Malvern Well Dressing Festival

Historical significance: Well dressing also has historical significance, as it was believed to have been practiced during times of plague or other disasters as a form of protection and purification. The tradition of well dressing was seen as a way to ward off evil spirits, diseases, and misfortune, and to express gratitude for the life-sustaining gift of water.

Evolution of the tradition: Over time, the practice of well dressing has evolved and adapted to different regions and communities in England, with unique styles, techniques, and themes emerging. Well dressing has become a popular folk custom, with communities coming together to create elaborate and artistic displays using flowers, leaves, and other natural materials to decorate wells, springs, or other water sources. Well dressing events are often accompanied by festivities, parades, and other celebrations, attracting visitors and tourists.

Today, well dressing continues to be practiced in various parts of England as a cherished cultural tradition, celebrating the significance of water in local communities and showcasing the creativity, artistry, and community spirit of those involved in this unique custom.

Malvern Well Dressing Festival , Malvern Hills
Malvern Hills

The Malvern festival starts with dressing the wells on Friday, 28 April, Judging takes place on Saturday, 29 April, and prize giving with rosettes and certificates on Bank Holiday Monday, 1 May, in Priory Park where family fun day also takes place.

The theme connects with The Coronation of His Majesty The King, which takes place on Saturday 6 May, but for anyone taking part in the dressing of wells it can also link with mythical or fictional Kings and Queens.

Malvern Well Dressing Festival
Malvern Well Dressing Festival

The annual event celebrates the history of the Malvern Hills District, from its iconic spring water and Victorian Water Cure to the area's ancient Pagan traditions. It is brought to the town by the Malvern Spa Association with local businesses and community groups taking part.

Around 200 adults and over 500 school children will all be involved in dressing the wells across Malvern.

Visitors can view the wonderful creations by setting off across the hills on foot, by bicycle or on a self-drive tour. Maps can be downloaded from the Malvern Well Dressing Facebook page or from Malvern Tourist Information Centre.

Entertainment taking place includes singing, well blessings, minibus tours and more.

Rick Banbury, Well Dressing Organiser said: "What a marvellous theme, Kings and Queens is, so fitting for the build-up to the Coronation. While for those who are less engaged, there's a mass of possibilities including Nursery Rhymes, Fairy Tales, Rock Stars, Drag Artists. This theme has it, to excite dressers to make wonderful creations come Mayday."

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