Thousands see in the New Year with a hug. Photography by Jude Moore

Thousands see in the New Year with a hug. Photography by Jude Moore
Oomphf entertain the crowd at Hug-Many © Jude Moore

Nearly 4,000 revellers saw in 2020 at Hug-Many, the event that encourages people to celebrate the New Year sharing as many hugs as possible.

With all of the proceeds donated to local charities including Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre, Trinity Theatre and Nourish Community Foodbank, Hug-Many has become a staple in the town since it first started in 2014.

The concept behind the New Year’s Eve event is not just a play on words, but for some people, a hug can make all the difference, explains Ian Andrew, who started the event six years ago.

He told the Times: “This year, we raised between £10,000 – £12,000 at the gates. 

“It was a great night for the town with the surrounding pubs and clubs being open, and this year it was really an event for all ages, families, young people and older people.”

The crowd saw in 2020 with live music from funk band, Oomphf, a dazzling firework display, a live DJ and the obligatory countdown to midnight. 

Managing Director of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, Julian Leefe-Griffiths who helped organise this year’s Hug-Many, said they also had a first for the event this year.

“We had a man ask to come up on stage so that he could propose to his girlfriend. Thankfully, she said yes. That was a first for us. This year was a great event with a fantastic crowd, who were delightful – there was a good mood all round.”

© Jude Moore

But some partygoers warned that Hug-Many was in danger of becoming a bit too popular.

One New Year’s Eve reveller said: “It was very packed. I went with my mum and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. It was okay for me but my mum is older so it was not ideal, but other than that it was a good night.”

The event also involved a massive clear up operation on New Year’s Day. “We were back at The Pantiles at 8.30 am to dispose of the tons of rubbish left behind,” added Mr Leefe-Griffiths.

“However, this year, William Benson at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council arranged for a cleaning team to come and help, which we are very grateful for as it made the hardest part of the night, run much smoother.”



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