Marymass Irvine

Marymass is a festival in Irvine, dating back to the Middle Ages, the modern version of which dates from the 1920s. It was originally associated with the Virgin Mary (rather than Mary Queen of Scots, as is often supposed). The modern version, organised by the local council and Irvine Carters Society, features many activities around the town, and established a Marymass Queen with her 'four Marys' (who are the queen's ladies in waiting- this part does seem to consciously refer back to the time of Mary Queen of Scots) and two page boys (all of these roles are given to local children). The Queen's role in proceedings culminates in her being crowned.

The festival attracts large crowds of both locals and people from further afield. The central feature of the festival is a parade, thought to be the largest horse-drawn procession in Scotland, which goes through the town and ends up at Irvine Moor where the festivities continue, featuring, among other things, young men climbing a greasy pole for a coveted prize ham, and horse racing around the moor. The festival takes place in mid August.

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