10 ways to celebrate May Day in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:59 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:59 27 April 2017

The King's Morris dancing up the dawn on May Day. Picture: Ian Burt

The King's Morris dancing up the dawn on May Day. Picture: Ian Burt

May Day is marked around Britain by maypole and Morris dancing, the crowning of May queens, and village fetes celebrating fertility and fun. Enjoy!

The King's Morris dancing up the dawn on May Day. Picture: Ian BurtThe King's Morris dancing up the dawn on May Day. Picture: Ian Burt

1 May garlands, the bellow of ox horns, morris dancing and processions mark May 1 in King’s Lynn.

A King’s Lynn May Day begins at dawn with morris dancing on Knight’s Hill roundabout (the location chosen because it is the highest spot for miles around, meaning a fine view of the sunrise if the weather is kind

Then, at noon, members of the King’s Morris take a May Day garland on a procession through the town, beginning from the Saturday Market Place and accompanied by the blowing of ox horns and more morris dancing,

The King’s Morris revived the tradition of The King’s Lynn May Garland procession in the 1980s but it is linked to the May garlands of greenery, birds’ eggs, flowers, and a doll in the middle, paraded through the town by children in the early 19th century. Lynn people would traditionally open the doors of their homes at dawn on May 1.

Martham Scarecrow Festival 2016.

Picture: James Bass

Martham Scarecrow Festival 2016. Picture: James Bass

2 May Day was the most popular holiday in Tudor times and will be celebrated with processions, plays, pageantry, music and dancing at Kentwell, in Long Melford, near Sudbury.

More than 100 costumed Tudors will be in the manor and gardens and there are also family trails through the farm.

3 Dancers from Kemp’s Men, Golden Star Morris and Fiddlesticks will be dancing as the May Day sun rises over Mousehold Heath, Norwich, from 4.45am. From St James’ Hill, they will take their merry music and dance to The Forum at 6am and then on to Cathedral Close at 7am.

4 Dawn will be welcomed with Morris Dancing at Felixstowe Beacon on May 1. Join the East Suffolk Morris Men as they perform their traditional rites of spring with music, dancing, sticks and bells.

5 May Day will be celebrated in traditional style at Gressenhall, near Dereham, from 10am to 5pm on bank holiday Monday.

Have a go at Maypole dancing, create a May Day crown and take part in the Grand Gressenhall Parade, see Morris dancing, and see a new play about life in the workhouse.

Spring is in full swing on the farm, with animals to visit including lambs and heavy 

All activities are included in admission.

6 A traditional May Day fete will be held in Ringsfield, near Beccles. The fun includes a dog show, cream teas and arena displays at the village hall from 10am to 4pm. Free entry.

7 The villagers of Martham, near Yarmouth, will be marking May Day with scarecrows and yarnbombing on Sunday and Monday. The annual scarecrow festival spreads through gardens across the village, and the scarecrows will be joined by decorated wheelbarrows, prams and bikes, stalls and games, a treasure hunt, fairground rides, a flower festival and art exhibition and even a living scarecrow competition.

Yarnbombing will be featuring once again, with unusual knitting projects popping up across the village.

Martham Scarecrow Festival runs from 10am to 5pm on Sunday and Monday. Free entry.

8 The Mendlesham Street Fayre, runs from 10.30am to 5pm on May 1, with a bands, Morris men, children’s entertainment, birds of prey, dancers, and vintage farm machinery, a craft fair and plenty of refreshments.

Adults £3 under 16s free. Money raised goes towards village projects and organisations in Mendlesham, near Stowmarket.

9 The free May Day Festival in Alexandra Park, Ipswich, runs from noon to 6pm on Sunday.

There are three main stages with a packed programme of live music and entertainment, plus street food, fairground rides, festival stalls and local and children’s activities. The festival, celebrating international workers day, also features talks by political figures and social campaigners.

10 Dancing, donkey rides, dodgems, Punch and Judy and a gospel choir are just some of the attractions at the Family Fun Day at Heigham Park, Norwich, on May 1. The annual May Day fair, from 11am to 4pm, is organised by the local churches and all proceeds go to charity.

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