Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Dr. Savage

Dr. Savage

Despite funding cut Fat Tuesday is back: 9-13 February

The Hastings Fat Tuesday Festival is a local favourite. Now Britain’s biggest Mardi Gras is returning, a celebrated late-winter musical blowout that also has a wider programme of activity to support the communities of Hastings and St Leonards. Hastings Fat Tuesday (HFT) is supported by trustees and managed by a small team. Bernard McGinley reports.

The 2024 Fat Tuesday was in jeopardy following the announcement from Arts Council England that they would not be supporting the event. An HFT crowdfunder led to generous donations and support by local people and East Sussex County Council’s Community Wellbeing Fund: the event can go ahead, though with a smaller programme than in recent years.

That still means a five-day town-wide celebration with over 350 free gigs, gatherings, parties and parades alongside ticketed events. Dr Savage (pictured above) is a particular favourite.

Unplugged Saturday

Director Sally Lampitt confirmed that with the reduced budget, the priority was to secure the popular Saturday Unplugged and Tuesday Tour, which support 30 venues from the Old Town over to St Leonards, hosting 84 live acts with very many musicians, engineers and local freelancers, as well as attracting large local crowds. Poppy Prescott is among those whose audiences are growing. (There are many others.)

Sonics: a feast of experimentation at the Pig on Saturday and Sunday.

Along with the Unplugged Saturday and Tuesday Tour, Fat Tuesday will include an opening party at the Albion, an Under the Radar gig at the Piper, Sonics line-ups at the Pig, Slim Monday, the Reggae Room and an After Party. The restricted funds mean that the Unconvention music conference, the Mardi Gras Ball and the annual Parade and Preservation Sunday will not return this year.

15-year anniversary record

HFT have also announced that, thanks to the extremely generous support of Curve Pusher and Curve Pressings, a 15-year anniversary album has been released on vinyl. It’s called Mardi Gras. Songs have been donated by 10 festival favourites, including Hot Wax, Kid Kapichi, Skinny Lister, King Size Slim (who hasn’t missed one yet), Matilda’s Scoundrels (much missed), Cajun Dawgs and Crunchy Bat, and previously unreleased tracks by Buddha Triangle, Jamie Smart and Liane Carroll.

The album is available to buy from the HFT website. Funds from the record sales will directly support the festival and the youth engagement work.

Curve Pusher’s founder, Lawrie Dunster, said:

When I moved to Hastings I felt an instant connection that I can’t explain. We moved our entire business and our families here and Hastings Fat Tuesday Music Festival was a big part of that. We make records. We recognise that Hastings Fat Tuesday has always supported the development of local artists and I wanted to find a way to support the continuation of the festival and support the local scene. My idea was to give the local artists a platform on vinyl and donate all the records to Hastings Fat Tuesday so as to facilitate funding for the festival, which by coincidence, is needed more this year than ever.

Further afield

As well as the main festival, there’s the biennial Sonics electronic music festival and a range of live music events and community sessions and workshops to support musicians and young people, and provide engaging cultural experiences for all. Hastings Fat Tuesday CIC [Community Interest Company] is a not-for-profit organisation.

Cheeringly the Fat Tuesday Festival even has a fringe. Get down.

King Size Slim: the regular HFT favourite is at the Lord Nelson on Monday evening.


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Posted 14:13 Monday, Feb 5, 2024 In: Festivals

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