Dark Gathering 2020 – The Unexpected

So here we are at Samhain and our thoughts gravitate towards the turning of the year – from Summer’s End and into the Dark of the Year.  We look inward, we honour our ancestors, and traditionally we would attend the Dark Gathering in some shape or form.  This year most of us can only gather together in spirit and not in person due to the pandemic that persists in our lands.

It’s been quite moving reading so many folks’ comments of the impact the Gathering has upon so many.  It’s grown from just a few dozen like-minded friends gathering together, to a full scale celebration of Hallowtide with all the associated pageantry that accompanies it nowadays.  I feel that the Gathering has captured the imagination and powerfully stirs an ancient race memory, especially as night falls.  To experience the sound of hundreds of people joining in the Ancestor Chant to the rhythm of the drums by the light of flaming torches, is to be transported back in time to the Elder Ways.  It’s very cathartic and deeply healing.

As the Dark Gathering is primarily cross cultural between Wales and Cornwall involving the meeting of the Mari Lwyds with the Cornish Osses, some of them wanted to send a message to each other.  Here is a bizarre, but quite charming, virtual meet up of them.  Many thanks to Eleanor Greenwood who edited this short video.

We hope that you enjoyed that brief interchange with our equine Celtic cousins!  Moving on….

As we can no longer gather together physically this year, we thought we would compile a special video for you all dedicated to the spirit of Samhain and the Dark Gathering.  It has taken many months to create and I have been like demented sheepdog endeavouring to round up all the submissions in time.  Rather predictably, a lot of them only arrived at the very last minute, and as a consequence stress levels have been fluctuating wildly…!

I am indebted to the hard work and sheer determination of our editor and compiler – Hedj Dollman.  Not only has he spent countless hours of his precious spare time on this video, but he has willing done this whilst also working full time as a key worker.  Having seen the finished product I can assure you that Hedj has put his heart and soul into this project.  A standing ovation for this young man if you please!

So what can you expect from this 90 mins of dark entertainment?  Basically, expect the unexpected!  It has song, past film footage (some of which hasn’t seen the light of day before), new material, storytelling and messages from our performers – all of which showcases brilliantly how multi-skilled and talented our Dark Gathering Team is.  All of this wondrously woven together by Hedj.

So, get yourselves settled in and comfy, preferably with your favourite tipple and enjoy our version of the Dark Gathering 2020.  Enjoy!

We wish everyone a wildly magical Hallowtide wherever you may be.  Here’s to the Old Ones and the Ancestors!

To Be or Not To Be

2020 is turning out to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.  We were so looking forward to our special year when we could celebrate seven years that sealed the Dark Gathering as a tradition, on Halloween with a blue full moon rising upon some superb Morris sides and blessed by the Mari Lwyds and Obby Osses.  Then the virus reached our shores and the whole country went into lockdown.

We watched and waited and hoped, but to no avail as it became apparent that we had to cancel the Dark Gathering for this year.  What a huge disappointment for so many people.  😦

Now there may be many folk who may be wondering why we have cancelled when it is still over four months until the event.  There are five important reasons why we had to take this decision, and in no particular order I shall explain what they are.


I used to think rather naively that small festivals and events just needed getting a few people together and organising them loosely and away you go – if only it were that straight forward!  Possibly you might get away with gatherings of up to about 50 people, but once the numbers start climbing into the hundreds then you have to apply for an appropriate entertainment licence from the Council.  This complex document has to be applied for well in advance up to 12 weeks before the planned event.  There are other licences we have to obtain but this is the main one – without it the event cannot by law go ahead.


Not too surprisingly given the present national situation the premiums on all the insurances that are required have soared astronomically, and I won’t even start on describing how much of a minefield it would be creating risk assessments for Health & Safety – I’ll leave that to your imagination!

Government Regulations

At the time of writing the government guidelines state that no more than 6 people can meet up together, and although there may be an increase to that number in the next few months I really think it unlikely that this would reach the hundreds – but even if that happened then they would have to be socially distanced and there is simply not the space for that to happen in the small village of Boscastle.


Due to the virus adversely impacting workers and businesses alike, many folk are seriously struggling to keep on an even financial keel.  As a direct result of this, any funding from sponsors for the Gathering is way down the list of their priorities and cannot be anticipated for the foreseeable future.  This would considerably restrict future payments and subsidies that have up until now been given to various performers.


Due to the government guidelines the owners of the areas where we have traditionally performed are unable to grant permission for their use as a performance area.  Once again, this is a situation that I can’t see changing any time soon.

So there you have it.  No Dark Gathering this year sadly.  However, we will still be travelling up to visit Boscastle on the day to spend time enjoying the uniquely powerful energy of the place on such a special night.  We believe that several folk have decided to do the same if some accommodation is available and people are allowed to stay overnight by then.

We will now be focusing on the Dark Gathering 2021 which will be held on Saturday October 30th when we intend to have the same line-up of performers as were arranged for this year.  Given that, as elsewhere, many hospitality businesses are seriously struggling in Boscastle, if you are planning to attend the 2021 Gathering you may wish to consider simply transferring your booking from this year to the next if possible.

We will miss you all this year but I’m sure we’ll all meet up again soon.  Keep watching for any more updates and most of all stay safe!  🙂



Important News on the Dark Gathering 2020

It is with real regret that I have to announce that the Dark Gathering 2020 has to be cancelled. We are now focusing our energies on producing the next Gathering which is now set for Saturday October 30th 2021. It is our intention to maintain the same excellent line up of performers, and consequently we hope that anyone who has booked their accommodation for this year in Boscastle will simply transfer their bookings to next year if possible. Till we all meet again, stay safe!