Thursday, 4 April 2013

Celebrating May in the West Country

May Day is celebrated with style and substance down in the West Country, where ancient traditions still hold strong.

In Cornwall, Padstow’s Obby Osses (see above photo) – two stylised recreations of a horse - are brought out from the winter stable to the sound of a hypnotic folk song. The dance through the narrow streets and around the harbour, which is decorated with flowers and flags for the occasion, is a sight to behold on 1st May.

In Minehead it’s called the Hobby Horse and from 30th April to 4th May, the figure chases children, harasses men and woos the ladies with its vibrant tail of ribbons and ostrich plumes, running to Dunster Castle and around the village.

Brixham Pirate Festival will strive to beat its record of 1,744 suitably dressed buccaneers on 4th and 5th May. Pirate games and rousing sea shanties complete the swashbuckling atmosphere.

Down in St Ives, the Grand Bard and Lord Mayor choose the May Queen, King and followers in a ceremony known as the Pee Whip on 6th May, which includes Maypole dancers and traditional choirs singing and dancing their way through the streets and down to the harbour.

In Devon on the same day, Morris dancers gather in Milbrook, Cawsand and Kingsand for the Black Prince flower boat procession joined by town criers and a flower-decorated boat held aloft on the shoulders of ratings from HMS Raleigh. Wearing red ribbons, flowers and sashes, they form a procession of dancers, musicians and children.

Helston Flora Day is on 8th May and be ready for an early start. The day of dancing begins at 8am with the Hal an Tow and the men’s dance is at midday. Schoolchildren decked out in finery and flowers, women in ball gowns and men in their Morning Dress will surely welcome in the sun in style.

For West Country holiday cottages a short morris dance away from each of these celebrations go to or call our team o01647 433593.