THE annual Wassail and Mari Lwyd in Chepstow is getting bigger every year.


Yesterday’s event saw hundreds of participants gather for several hours of morris dancing, singing, ribald banter and general good fun - culminating with the traditional meeting of Welsh and English revellers in the middle of the old Wye Bridge.


This is a tradition that has survived in parts of Wales despite the rapidly changing social and cultural landscape in the past few decades, and the Chepstow event appears to be in rude health.

At a rough count, there were around 30 horse skull Mari Lwyds, which easily beats last year's 21, a record in itself.


And they are coming to Chepstow from further afield every year. Caerleon and Pontypool were among the other parts of Gwent represented today, while Beorma Border Morris from Birmingham were a strong presence in Chepstow too.

Mari Lwyds and wassails were enacted in the town during the afternoon, followed by a grand pageant of Mari Lwyds at the Drill Hall.


But the event that really draws the crowds - despite the chilly weather and the exposed location - is the meeting on the Old Wye Bridge, where song, dance and banter is exchanged with like-minded folk from just over the border.


Hundreds gathered on the bridge to watch the exchanges - a rousing affair that if nothing else proves that the bridge is decent condition - and there was big screen at the Chepstow end where those less inclined to stride out over the murky waters of the Wye could watch the proceedings.


There followed a grand Mari Lwyd event at Chepstow Museum and a country dance ceilidh, also at the Drill Hall, rounded off the celebrations.


All afternoon and evening, Chepstow town centre was full of the sounds of jingling bells, and the sights of outlandish costumes - an updated tradition that appears to be flourishing in this corner of Wales at least.