Palm Beach is not the first place in the world to host a boar’s head pageant; the tradition dates to fourteenth century Oxfordshire, after all. But along with gilded things, Worth Avenue, and perfectly sculpted hedges, the Boar’s Head Festival is Palm Beach.
For 40 years, standing room-only crowds have packed Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (141 South County Road, Palm Beach) for the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival. (History lesson: Wild boars once terrorized the Norman countryside. The presentation of their despicable heads on a platter was really a celebration of the triumph over good and evil.) We can’t improve upon the description from the church’s website:
“More than 160 cast members of all ages, including parishioners, vocalists, the Bethesda Choir, Palm Beach Pipes and Drums, and instrumentalists, dress as lords and ladies, sprites, pages, jesters, shepherds, huntsmen, and beefeaters in a mingling of pagan and Christian traditions. You will hear favorite Christmas carols, enjoy fantastic costumes and performances, and feel the majesty of the arrival of the Baby Jesus. Join us for a wonderful celebration and a fitting close to a joyous holiday season.”
Best advice we can give? Go. Absolutely go. But go early, at least an hour before the 2 and 4:30 p.m. performances on Sunday, Jan 8. We once watched the festival from behind one of the sanctuary’s gigantic stone pillars, and we can’t recommend it.
A $20 suggested donation will be collected at the door. Learn more on the Bethesda website, or watch this video of the 2010 festival to get a sense of the majesty of this lavish and lovely event.