Hastings has no shortage of special ways to socialise, but The Big Lunch is a bit different. You don’t have to wear green or dress as a pirate, play in a band or run a half-marathon – you just turn up, hang out and spend the afternoon getting to know your neighbours over some pretty sensational food and fun. It’s a pot-luck picnic in the truest sense – all the tables, chairs, dishes and cutlery are provided by volunteers and whatever people bring to share makes the day!  

Over the past three years that Transition Town has hosted the event in Warrior Square Gardens, families, friends and newcomers to town have shared everything from hand-made sushi and rounders (with a 70-year age span) to home-made curry followed by a group dip in the sea to cool off. 

“When people come together in such a creative community, dishes from around the world take centre stage, but it’s the connections we make that create the real food for thought,” says Big Lunch co-ordinator, Sherry Clark. 

Sherry recently bumped into a woman she met at the first Big Lunch in 2016: “She said it was the best day of her life,” says Sherry. Apparently, she’d wandered over to see what was going on and was so excited that she went and bought some cans of tuna from the Co-op to share. “We didn’t have a can-opener, but we all had a real laugh. Sometimes, that’s all we need to feel we belong.” 

This will be the UK’s 11th annual Big Lunch weekend, which began at the Eden Project in Cornwall in 2009 as a picnic where “for a few glorious hours, cars stop, shyness stops, gloom lifts and the UK comes together to meet, greet, share, swap, sing, play and laugh for no reason other than that we all need to”.  Last year, over ten million people shared food, fun and friendship.

If you’re new in town, or have lived here since birth, come along on 2nd June from 12–3pm to celebrate this crazy, coastal community we all call home.

• If you want to know more about the Big Lunch: www.edenproject

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