The Annual Festival is now held on the last Friday in February, when a distinguished Brother acts as the Festival President, is received in the Lodge with due Ceremonial and presides at the Banquet. The proceedings on this occasion are quite different from any other Friday in the year, for there is no Degree Ceremony, the whole of the work being sections of the Masonic Lectures, mainly four, worked by two members of the Committee as Lecture Masters and assisted by competent Brethren selected from among the volunteer workers.
At this Festival two other members of the Committee act as Wardens, while Brethren to act as Deacons and Inner Guard are nominated by the Grand Stewards’ Lodge from among its members – this latter arrangement being an acknowledgment of earlier days when the Grand Stewards’ Lodge was regarded as an authority on Masonic instruction by Lectures and had attended Emulation Lodge of Improvement to see what it was doing.
The other Festival meeting is on the last Friday in June, immediately before the summer recess. For this meeting, the work always consists of a Degree Ceremony (they are taken in rotation) and the Installation Ceremony, and all the working offices are filled by Brethren nominated by Lodges of Instruction situated outside London. Hence it is a Provincial or Preceptors’ Festival.
The Ceremonies are worked by teams drawn from a wide area without previous rehearsal together and the meetings provide a test of the identity of Emulation teaching everywhere. It also provides an opportunity for those who work in ‘Emulation’ all over the country to meet together once a year.