Tickets for Christ Church Cathedral’s 82nd-Annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival Go Live This Weekend

The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival may just be Cincinnati's most eccentric — and plum-pudding-filled — holiday tradition

click to enlarge Christ Church Cathedral has been producing the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival since 1939. - Photo: Provided by Christ Church Cathedral
Photo: Provided by Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral has been producing the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival since 1939.

Christ Church Cathedral's Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival celebrates 82 years of pageantry, pleated pantaloons and roasted hog heads this year. This ancient Christmas festival, rooted in pagan forestry, goes back almost 700 years and symbolizes the Christ Child’s triumph over sin.

Our local fest is modeled after one that originated at Queen’s College in Oxford, England in the 1300s and it includes a cast of more than 250 costumed lords, ladies, knights, hunters, pages, shepherds and wise men performing carols and the story of the nativity and lighting a yule log.

Productions take place on Jan. 1 and 2, and free tickets will be distributed to the public on Dec. 11 at Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., Downtown. Tickets are first-come, first-served and will be available from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Doors open at 8 a.m. and only two tickets will be allotted per person (must be 18 or older).

"Legend has it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle while walking through the forest on his way to Christmas Mass. Suddenly, he was confronted by an angry wild boar," reads the event website. "Having no other weapon, the resourceful Oxonian rammed his metal-bound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, whereupon the brute choked to death. That night the boar’s head, finely dressed and garnished, was borne in procession to the dining room, accompanied by carolers singing 'in honor of the King of bliss.'”

It’s a lavish theatrical production that harkens back to the 14th century with a large homemade mince pie and plum pudding, and a garnished hog’s head on a platter (Christ Church says boars are in short supply here). The head is roasted and decorated, but not eaten. However, the rest of the homemade food is eaten by the cast after the final show. 

End result: It’s a cool Medieval tradition with roots in Christian and pagan winter festivals.

This year's Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival will look slightly different due to COVID precautions, with a smaller cast and a "concert-style performance."

The public (with tickets) can watch the dress rehearsal at 2 p.m. Jan. 1, with full productions at 5 p.m. Jan. 1 and 2:30 and 5 p.m. Jan. 2. 

Get more details and see the full program notes at cincinnaticathedral.com.

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scroll to read more Culture articles

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.