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By Parkdean Resorts on 09/04/2018

Morris Dancers

Traditionally taking place on 1st May, May Day is a UK bank holiday falling on the first Monday of May each year and is celebrated nationwide with festivities, including Morris dancing, maypole songs, live music and fancy dress, to name but a few.

Whether you’re staying home or travelling to one of our UK holiday parks, we’re delighted to share our top picks to keep the family busy this bank holiday.

May Day Festival, Ilfracombe

  • Date: 6/5/2018
  • Time: 10:45am
  • Location: Starting at Wilder Road Car Park and ending at the Clapping Circle above Wildersmouth Beach.

Visitors to Ruda Holiday Park this bank holiday would be mad not to take the 20 minute drive to the seaside resort of Ilfracombe for their annual May Day Festival. Each year, visitors and residents will come together, be it rain or shine, wearing green in celebration of the fertility and awakening of the forthcoming summer months.

Ilfracombe May Day Parade

May Day Festival in Ilfracombe. Image courtesy of Tim Lamerton

If you’re keen to experience the traditional May Day celebrations, Ilfracombe is the perfect place to head this bank holiday. The family-friendly parade is led by the town crier and features Jack-in-the-Green, who wears a costume covered in leaves. The parade starts at Wilder Road, marches through the town and ends at the Clapping Circle overlooking Wildersmouth Beach, where they dance the festive May Pole and Jack is stripped of his foliage to welcome the “spirit of summer.”

This bank holiday, why not enjoy the traditional May Day celebrations at this stunning seaside town with all your family? Find out more about the parade on the Visit Ilfracombe website.

‘Obby ‘Oss Festival, Padstow

  • Date: 1/5/2018
  • Time: 10am
  • Location: Padstow Town Centre

The Cornish fishing port of Padstow is home to one of the UK’s most famous May Day events featuring a hobby horse, AKA “The ‘Obby ‘Oss”. Dating back over 200 years, the event has retained its obscurity with a few modern twists. 

Padstow Harbour

Padstow, Cornwall comes alive each year with the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival

Up until the First World War, there was only one ‘obby ‘oss in Padstow, usually a man dressed up in a horse’s skin an led through different streets. Although the origin of the festival remains unknown, it has remained a significant part of the Cornish calendar, particularly with the introduction of a second ‘obby ‘oss in the early twentieth century as an attempt by several residents to reduce the merriment and chaos associated with the custom.

Nowadays, both ‘obby ‘osses are an intrinsic part of the weird but entertaining festivities, which have to be seen to be fully appreciated!


Video Courtesy of Steve Bettridge

The event starts at midnight on 30th April, where residents sing to the landlord of the Golden Lion Inn pub, which continues to the early hours of May Day. By 8am, the town is covered in flowers and the town’s children will parade their ‘obby ‘oss in anticipation of the main events.

For the rest of the day, the town is full of the sound of traditional music, chanting and laughter as the two main ‘obby ‘osses parade around the town and eventually meet at the maypole on Broad Street. If you’re visiting St Minver or White Acres Holiday Parks this May Day then Padstow is the perfect place to celebrate and absorb the atmosphere at this age-old festivity. Find out more about the strange but exciting event at the Padstow Obby Oss website.

May Day Run, Hastings

  • Date: 7/5/2018
  • Time: All Day
  • Location: Hastings Seafront

Don’t start dusting off your running shoes just yet – the Hastings May Day Run is not your typical fun run, but in fact it’s the UK’s largest motorcycle festival! With over 35,000 motorcyclists expected each year, the free-to-attend May Day run in Hastings is a must-see for any petrol-heads (or cycle-curious) staying at Camber Sands Holiday Park, just a 40-minute drive (or ride!) away.


Video Courtesy of Laguna TV

The origins of this biking event may still be a distant memory to many, and a common modern fairy tale to others. In 1964, the seaside town of Hastings was inundated with young people, in what became known as “The Second Battle of Hastings” as two groups – the “mods” and “rockers” - clashed on the East Sussex sands, forever immortalising the town as a place for motorcyclists to come together.

Hastings Seafront

Hastings is teaming with bikers and spectators on May Bank Holiday

The event comes at the end of a 60-mile road trip, from Locksbottom, near Bromley, to Hastings, and is now partaken by tens of thousands of riders from all walks of life and backgrounds. It doesn’t matter whether riders have bikes, trikes or scooters, they’re all welcome on the annual May Day Run.

Find out more about how you can witness the UK’s largest motorcycle meet-up on the Bike1066 website.

Bandstand Beer & Music Festival, Nairn

  • Date: 3 – 7/5/2018
  • Time: 4pm-onwards
  • Location: Bandstand, Nairn

This one’s for the grown-ups! If you’re heading to Nairn Lochloy Holiday Park this May bank holiday, you’ll want to take a short walk into the town of Nairn for the annual Bandstand Beer & Music Festival. Every year, the historic market town comes alive with fantastic live music, delicious barbeque food and a range of fun-filled activities all in aid of local charities.

Nairn Marine

The fishing town of Nairn comes alive once a year with the annual Beer & Music Festival

Hosted by the Bandstand Bar & Restaurant, the festival is celebrating its tenth year this year. The festival boasts over 100 Scottish & English ales and ciders, making it the largest independent free festival in Scotland.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates from the Bandstand team on their Facebook page.

Wessex Morris Men, The Cerne Abbas Giant

  • Date: 1/5/2018
  • Time: 5:15am (sunrise)
  • Location: Above the Giant, Cerne Abbas

Last but not least, we couldn’t write about May Day festivities without mentioning the Wessex Morris Men and their dance at dawn on top of Giant Hill, above the famous chalk figure and fertility symbol, Cerne Abbas. If you’ve ever visited towns across West Dorset or Somerset, the chances are you will have seen the Wessex Morris Men dance at various festivities throughout the summer.


Video Courtesy of darkdorset

As the sun rises on 1st May, the Wessex Morris Men will dance at the Cerne Abbas monument, accompanied by their characters including the fool and the horse, similar to that of the Cornish ‘Obby ‘Oss festival. May Day festivities in England wouldn’t be complete without Morris Men, and the Wessex dancers have been lighting up the South West for over 50 years.

Just a half an hour drive from Warmwell and 40 minutes from West Bay, it’s worth the early rise on 1st May to see the Morris men in all their glory as the sun rises above the Dorset hills. What more could you want from this May Day celebration?

That’s it for our May Day recommendations – have we missed any of your favourite bank holiday celebrations? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.