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May Day 2024

A beautiful spring-time tradition with long history

Dates: May 1–6, 2024

May Day
May Day

May Day (also called Early May Bank Holiday, May Day Bank Holiday, or Spring Bank Holiday) is an official public holiday in the UK celebrated on the first Monday in May since 1978. However, this holiday existed since ancient times and was celebrated with parades, Maypole dancing, Morris Dancing, Queen of May crowning, and other fun activities. May Day is officially scheduled for the first Monday of May. However, some villages and towns tend to celebrate it earlier, during the first week of May.

Mayday & Maypole Dancing

The earliest historical records of May Day celebrations in the UK date back to 14th century. A Welsh poet Gryffydd ap Adda ap Dafydd described how people used a tall birch pole in Llanidloes. Evidence shows that by 1400 the tradition was quite common for southern Britain, in Welsh-speaking and English-speaking areas.

Morris Dance

Morris dance is another May Day English folk tradition. It consists of rhythmic steps and choreographed figures by dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins as well as sticks, swords, or handkerchiefs. Dancers are dressed in white clapsticks, holding swords or handkerchiefs during the dance.

Offenham Maypole Celebrations (May 1, 2024)

Today, the most colorful Mayday dancing around the Maypole can be observed in Offenham, Worcestershire. Offenham has an unusually complex dance tradition that is still performed every year. The village has a 64-foot (20 m) Maypole, one of the tallest in the country. The dances will perform several folk dances, including Gypsy's Tent, Barber's Pole, Shuttlecock, and Spider's Web. In addition to May Day, the Offenham holds Morris dancing and the crowning of the Wake Queen, the queen of May, every year on the May Day holiday. The festivities begin at 6 pm near the Offenham Maypole.

Offham May Day Celebration (May 4, 2024)

The village of Offham, located in the western part of Kent, holds its own vibrant May Day festival, filled to the brim with activities. Usually held on the village green, the events span between 12 pm and 5 pm and feature traditional Maypole and Morris dancing, a baking competition, and tons of games for children.

Chalgrove Village Mayday Festival (May 6, 2024)

Chalgrove Village in South Oxfordshire also hosts the annual Mayday Festival, brimming with fun and entertainment. Starting from 11 am at Chalgrove Recreation Grounds, the villagers and visitors gather for traditional Morris dancing, dog show, reel stunts, and live music. Musicians will be performing at the venue's stage from 11:30 am until 3:15 pm. Admission to the festival is completely free, making this a great opportunity to delve into Mayday customs and festivities.

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