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
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