As Waterdeep slowly crawls out of Winter, and into Spring weather tends to be cold and damp. Misty rain falls for days on end. It’s common for fog to settle at night and last through the day. As the weather improves, the city attracts more visitors, and the streets become increasingly crowded as summer approaches.
Month of Ches
When Ice in Harbor breaks:
The First Tide: Umberlee. Flute-and-drum parade through the streets by the clergy and faithful, celebrating the breaking of the ice.
The Shattering: Valkur. Festival celebrating the shattering of the ice in harbor, commemorated by launching and naming one new ship, which sails around the harbor crewed by Valkuran clergy. Also features the unfurling of new sails that are blessed by the clergy.
Ches 19th; Spring Equinox:
Song of Dawn: Lathander. Praise-song that blends purely vocal harmonies and counter-harmonies of incredible complexity. Can be heard for blocks around echoing through the Spires of Morning.
First Feast: Mielikki. Holy rituals and revels where the faithful of Mielikki are expected to enjoy the sensual pleasures of life and sing praises to the Lady in the forest.
Fey Day: Society. The veil between this world and the faerie realm of the Feywild is thought to be weak on this day. It is an occasion of much drinking, singing, and dancing in Waterdeep. The wealthy host elaborate masked balls, while poorer folk don costumes and travel door to door, gaining brief entry into the celebrations in exchange for performing a song or a short play.
Ches 21st – 30th
Fleetswake: Civic. Spanning the last tenday in Ches, Fleetswake is a mariners’ festival celebrating the sea, the sea trades that are their livelihood, and the gods of the sea. Many of the Fleetswake events and activities are dedicated in small ways to nearly every sea god or goddess of the Realms. The bulk of the festival activity occurs in Dock Ward, though the Fiery Flagon in Sea Ward is a hotbed of action during this holiday as well. Among the many events of the Fleetswake festival are boat races, the annual Shipwrights’ Ball at the Shipwrights’ House, guild-sponsored galas at the Copper Cup festhall, and many more. Any ships entering the harbor during Fleetswake are not charged the standard docking fees for their stay but the ships’ captains are expected to donate at least 1 gold piece per day to Umberlee’s Cache before they leave Waterdeep’s harbor.
Society: Generally speaking, the Spring Social Season begins with Fleetswake, when winter has let up enough to allow ships to return to the Waterdhavian harbor. Many noble families return during this week, taking rooms in inns while their servants prepare their estates for re-inhabiting. By the time of the Highcoin, the nobles have mostly all returned.
Selûne Sashelas: A celebration of Selûne, goddess of the moon and navigation, and Deep Sashelas of the Seldarine, elven god of the sea. It is supposedly based on a mangled legend dating back to the time when the elven city of Aelinthaldaar stood where Waterdeep does today and telling of a time when the elves of the sea said farewell to their brethren upon the land and moved into the deep ocean. The elves largely declare this to be a bunch of hogwash, but nevertheless the “historical event” is commemorated by the Twin Parades: A huge line of ships (varying greatly in size) proceeds from the harbor, loops up the coast, and returns. Simultaneously, a land-based parade proceeds from the Docks and through the streets of Waterdeep.
Shipwrights’ Ball: Held at the Shipwrights’ House, what was once a guild celebration has turned into one of the biggest social events of Fleetswake.
Ches 29th – 30th
Fair Seas Festival: Civic, Umberlee. This festival spans two days in late Ches, and closes the annual Fleetswake festivities.
The first day involves much feasting in all corners of the city, but the menus are limited primarily to seafood; in lower Castle Ward, a number of temporary structures are built over the waters off Smugglers’ dock, allowing nobles involved in the sea trades to host a feast shared with the mermen and sea elves of Waterdeep’s harbor. At both dawn and sunset, the waters of Waterdeep’s harbor are covered with floating flowers in homage to Umberlee, the chaotic ocean goddess.
During the course of the festival’s two days, parties of city guardsmen and chosen members of the Guild of Watermen and the Master Mariners’ Guild tour the city, taking donations from tavern patrons for Umberlee’s Cache, a sacrifice of coins from the citizens of the city to Umberlee in thanks for safe ports and safe passage in the coming year. Upon sunset of the second day, the money is placed in chests and dumped into the deepest part of the harbor.
Society: The returning nobles make their presence known to their fellows with elaborate Fair Seas Feasts. Those Houses that retain a strong presence in the city have the upper hand in these plans, for they’re in place to arrange their feasts and send out invitations to those nobles who are just now getting back into the city. The nobles also make a point of preparing to contribute to Umberlee’s Cache in extravagant ways during these parties, which are the favorite scene for the cache collectors to take up offerings from the noble Houses.
Highcoin: Waukeen. A grand feast with spoken accolades, accompanied by trumpet fanfares, hailing the wealthy for amassing such worth. Offerings are amassed for the next festival, Spheres.
Society: While the rest of the city is focused on the Fair Seas Festival, the nobility take the Waukeenar festival of Highcoin very seriously. Lord Piergeiron’s Highcoin Ball is an absolute necessity for those intending to be on the scene this season – if you miss it, you’re an afterthought at best for the rest of the year. The coin that is traditionally gathered on this day is gathered at the door of the ball. This ball is usually accompanied by accolades on what the nobles contribute to Waterdeep’s prosperity by the Open Lord, myriad Guildsmasters and other personages of importance. This event begins at sundown, and most of the nobles make sure to be at the sinking of Umberlee’s Cache as the true beginning of this festival, lining the shoreline in their finest garb, and then promenading to the Palace afterward.
Month of Tarsakh
Tarsakh 1st – 10th
Waukeentide: Civic, Waukeen, Society. This centuries-old tenday festival maintains its old title by force of habit. Originally a simple day-long celebration of the free trade and open commerce of the city, it has encompassed a number of older holidays under one title and stretched the holiday season over ten days. The nobles of Waterdeep take the merchants’ festival very seriously. This entire week is filled with parties of all sorts.
The Queen’s Gambit: The Red Knight. Clergy and faithful of the Red Knight unwind with a day of competitive games and feasting. Games of strategy are played all day in grand tournaments, with winners receiving recognition, titles of merit, promotions, and sometimes a precious gift from the temple armory.
Caravance: This gift-giving holiday commemorates the traditional arrival of the first caravans of the season into the city. Many parents hide gifts for their offspring in their homes, telling the children that they were left by Old Carvas – a mythical peddler who arrived with the first caravan to reach Waterdeep, his wagon loaded down with toys for children to enjoy.
Society: Nobles turn out en masse on this festival day to shop at the newly-opened Market.
Goldenight: This festival celebrates coin and gold, with many businesses staying open all night, offering midnight sales and other promotions. Some celebrants and customers decorate themselves with gold dust and wear coins as jewelry.
Guildsmeet: On this holiday, guild members gather in their halls for the announcement of new policies and a celebration of business concluded for the year. These gatherings culminate in a gala festival and dance sponsored by several guilds, which lasts from dusk till dawn and overruns the Market, the Cynosure, the Field of Triumph, and all areas in between.
Leiruin: In times long past, Waukeen caught Leira, the goddess of illusions and deception, attempting to cheat her in a deal, and buried her under a mountain of molten gold as punishment. A commemoration of that event, Leiruin is the day for guild members to pay their annual dues and for guildmasters to meet with the Lords of Waterdeep and renew their charters for another year. In the evening, the Leiruin Feasts are held, in which gold coins (and other golden treasures) are baked into random items of food to be won by those who are lucky enough to receive them.
Society: The final day of Waukeentide is celebrated with grand parties. The day begins with a gathering at Piergeiron’s Palace, where the nobles gather to watch the glass orbs full of coin gathered at the Highcoin Ball are launched presented to the city. After this spectacle and a shared warm drink courtesy of their host, the nobles break away to wander off to their myriad parties. The parties themselves are always grand spectacles, the hosts attempting to make them enthralling enough so that guests don’t go wandering for fear of missing something. As a result, the streets of North and Sea Wards are filled with small clutches of traveling party-goers in their festival finery.
Tarsakh 23rd – 27th
The Vernal Trousseau Festival: A festival dedicated to a series of parties that focus on the newest fashions for spring and summer.
Society. The evening hours feature exhibitions of the garment work of the finest artists of the Most Excellent Order of Weavers & Dyers, the Order of Master Tailors, Glovers & Mercers, and the Solemn Order of Recognized Furriers & Woolmen. These shows are organized by noble patrons to highlight the work of one given tailors or group thereof, to both show off the nobles’ good taste and to possibly garner additional regard for that artist’s work.
Greengrass is the official beginning of spring, a day of relaxation. Flowers that have been carefully grown in inner rooms of the keeps and temples during the winter are blessed and cast out upon the snow, to bring rich growth in the season ahead. Traditionally, the wealthier citizens of Waterdeep brring out flowers to give to the less wealthy, who either wear them or spread them on the ground to encourage the deities to usher in the summer.
Society: Wreaths of fresh flowers – some wider across than a man is tall – adorn the front gates of noble villas at Greengrass. Though a few do enjoy pilgrimages to celebrate the holiday in the hedonistic revel known as the Lady’s Revels at the nearby Chauntean abbey of the Goldenfields, the nobles of Waterdeep tend not to do too much on this day.
The Greengrass Tastings: Society. The main exception to this rule is with those families who deal in wine. These families often hold open-barrel tasting parties, where the coming year’s vintages are tasted to see how they’re coming along before being bottled and sold. These parties are as much about business as they are about pleasure, with the families inviting various masters of the Vintners’, Distillers’, & Brewers’ Guild, and various prestigious tavern- and inn-owners in attendance as well.
Month of Mirtul
The Presentation Ball: Society. An extremely formal event hosted by Lord Piergeiron. The height of the event is the Presentation, when young noble men and women – only now old enough this year to be considered “accepted” into society – step up one by one to be introduced. Once that has been done, those nobles are considered “fair game” for politicking, courting and are in all other ways treated as adult members of their Houses.
The Plowing and the Running: Rural areas around the city observe this holiday in the traditional sense of shared activities of plowing fields and moving (or “running”) livestock. But within the city, the holiday is celebrated with a series of races. Foot, horse, and chariot races are run through courses in each ward, and the winners from each ward compete at the Field of Triumph.
Guildsmeet Ball: Society. Coinciding with the Waukeenar holiday of Sammardach, this ball is thrown by the guilds of the city. It is an opportunity – wholly at the expense of the guilds, of course – for the nobility to meet and mingle with important guildsmen that they might not otherwise encounter, and for the guilds to make introductions to up-and-coming guildsmen and young nobles who’ll be taking over their family fortunes in a handful of years. Though plenty of business does get done here, the event is primarily social. Indeed, most Houses avoid scheduling social events for a full week following the Guildsmeet, to allow newly introduced nobles and guildsmen to invite one another to dinners and other engagements after having met at the ball.