Thursday, 8 May 2014

Helston Flora Day

May is a month rich in festivals and celebrations around the world. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will no doubt know that I live in the south west of England. My local town has a famous May festival and I thought some of you might be interested in hearing a little more about it.

Helston Flora Day held annually on May 8th, unless the date falls on a Sunday or Monday when it will take place on a Saturday, is a tradition that goes back for hundreds or years. It often sees friends and families travelling from around the world to be there on the big day. But the celebrations start even before the day itself with the town before decorated with bluebells, gorse and laurel. Shops and business take great pride in the decorations that adorn their premises.


One of the many decorations on a shop front


Lily of the Valley is Helston's symbolic flower (and the birth flower for May) and is part of the day's celebrations. The town band wear a sprig pinned to their hats while the dancers wear sprigs on their clothes.

The day itself starts at 7.00am when the crowds gather outside the Guildhall to hear the first beat of the big bass drum. A sound that brings tears to the eyes. The early morning dancers then file out behind the band and commence their dance around the town.

From 8.30 the spectacle of the Hal-an-Tow can be seen at various places around the town. This colourful pageant tells the history of the town with characters, including a dragon, singing and dancing. 

The children's dance starts at 9.40am and sees lots of children from the local schools dancing their way around the town, dressed in white. My youngest daughter is dancing this year with the senior school. Sadly I will be at work so won't see it in person but I will try and catch it via the webcam (see link below) and hopefully hubby will be there and record it for me!

The main dance of the day begins at the stroke of midday. This elegant procession leaves the Guildhall to the famous tune that fills the air for the whole day. The men dressed in their suits and top hats and the ladies in their long dresses, gloves and hands. They make their way around the four mile route to the delight of the cheering crowds. The names of those that are chosen each year for the honour of leading this dance are eagerly awaited. They have to have been born in Helston. Those not born in Helston can have the chance to dance further back in the procession. I would love to have the opportunity one day.

The last dance of the day starts at 5pm and is the same people who started the day at 7am.

The band are local heroes, walking and playing many miles during the course of the day. The tune is one that is iconic and much loved.

As I say I don't work in the town so our school doesn't get the day off! I will however be outside the Guildhall at 7am to hear the drum beat and watch a little dancing before grabbing a bacon sandwich and heading off to work. I should be back in time to see some of the 5 o'clock dance. Let's hope it is a dry day.


Happy Flora Day





For the first time this year LIVE coverage of the day can be viewed HERE

32 comments:

  1. Sounds like a lovely day. Hope the rain holds off for all of those lucky people who aren't working!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I live in Cornwall also and have done most of my life. I am up near Bude and have always wanted to go and experience Helston flora day but have never seemed to get around to it. I may have to try and do that next year. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you manage it sometime, Joss. It is a great spectacle.

      Delete
  3. Wow, that sounds like quite the day. first I've heard of such a display

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like fun! We have our fair share of festivals here...but I don't know of any that go on for days!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The town is rightly proud of their celebration.

      Delete
  5. How well visiting the Helston Floral show. Had a wonderful time with hubby and children.......Long before Terry Wogan's rendering of the song.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you have experienced the day, Yvonne.

      Delete
  6. Those flowers are gorgeous! And it sounds like such an amazing time, w/all the dancing and music. And yup, the sound of a drum like that would prolly make me teary-eyed too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds like such a spectacular festival, Suzanne, please post pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hubby took some while I was at work, haven't had time to look at them yet. Will maybe post any good ones next week!

      Delete
  8. Sounds lovely!
    I'm going to second the request for photos - if you take any xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll see what's on the camera, Helen!

      Delete
  9. Wow, this sounds like a fun festival! Those flowers you posted look so lovely...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The town looks amazing with the decorations.

      Delete
  10. My book is part set in Cornwall and I'm ¼ Cornish (on my mum's side) originating from St Ives and Newquay. :) The flowers are beautiful and the festival sounds great. Wish I lived there so I could attend. I'm not born to desert living.

    http://iurl.no/4u35h

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow, I didn't know that, Shah. Maybe you can visit one day soon.

      Delete
  11. That sounds like such a lovely day :) I love those kinds of traditions. Hope your daughter enjoys the dance!
    My in laws live in Cornwall and we're going to visit them in June, I cannot wait, it's such a beautiful part of England, I love spending time there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did enjoy it, although she got a little wet! Enjoy your visit to the county next month.

      Delete
  12. Beautiful flower picture!

    ReplyDelete
  13. My goodness, that sounds like a whole Celtic Rite of Spring thing. We didn't do diddly squat in the US. I'm glad you had fun! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. This special day sounds so lovely. Hope you have fun and thank you for sharing some details with us. Happy weekend, everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, what an amazingly fun time! I love hometown festivals, traditions, all that jazz. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! I want to see the dancing...love dancing...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Gorgeous flowers and I think your local musicians should be heroes. That must be lovely to hear music and smell all of those spring flowers.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi human, Suzanne,

    Pawesome stuff, my human friend. I do hope it turned out to be a dry day. My silly human thought it was a celebration of a brand of margarine.

    Penny :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Suzanne .. I'm late - but I was sheltering under an umbrella!! Perhaps next year you can spend the day with the family and watching the dancing, listening to the band .. I always remember the Helston Flora Dance .. though we never went ...

    The town must love the get together and enjoyment ..cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments, thank you for taking the time to visit and interact but please note I have disabled anonymous comments due to too much spam!