Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival - CHS Rentals
Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival
by Cedric

On Sunday 8th May at Covent Garden Piazza and St Paul’s Church there is the opportunity to enjoy a day of traditional British entertainment. The annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival celebrates its 41st anniversary this year. This fun festival, which marks Mr Punch’s birthday, is a popular annual treat for families.

In 1662 on 9th May Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary a reference to a performance held at Covent Garden. This has gone down in history as the first ever written record of a Punch and Judy Show. Samuel Pepys was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament during the reign of King Charles II. However Pepys is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man

The festival begins at 11am with a grand procession led by a brass band. There is a birthday toast to Mr Punch. At noon a special service takes place in St Paul’s Church, during which Mr Punch usually makes an appearance in the pulpit. Between 12.30pm and 5.30pm in the afternoon a series of puppet shows and workshops take place. Puppeteers travel from all over England, taking turns to perform in their colourful booths around the piazza. Expect slapstick, mayhem and boisterous humour. There is also folk music, maypole dancing, clowns and refreshments provided by the Food Chain who are raising funds for Londoner’s living with HIV.

St Paul’s Covent Garden was built in the 17th century to designs by the celebrated architect Inigo Jones. It was the first new church to be built in London following the Reformation. Due to the large number of theatres in the area, as well as the puppet shows held in its grounds, it quickly gained the nickname the Actor’s Church. It contains memorials to many famous theatrical personalities, including Charles Macklin, Dame Ellen Terry and Vivien Leigh. You may also recognise the church’s portico from its appearance in the Audrey Hepburn film My Fair Lady.

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