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How should I celebrate May Day in Kent?

By Ellis Stephenson

May Day comes around every year and for some it is just an excuse for a long weekend.

But what is behind the national holiday and why do we celebrate it every year?

Here is everything you need to know about May Day and where to celebrate it.

May Day is being marked this coming Monday. Pictures: Darren Small
May Day is being marked this coming Monday. Pictures: Darren Small

1) When is it?

May Day is traditionally celebrated every year on the first day of May with a public holiday soon afterwards. This year the date of the bank holiday is Monday, May 7.

2) What is May Day all about?

May Day is an ancient tradition of celebrating spring. One of the traditions that comes with the day is dancing and listening to music.

The maypole in England is probably one of the most famous things to be associated with May Day.

People often dress up to reflect times gone by too. The idea is that people use the party as a farewell to winter.

Enjoy the May Day festivities
Enjoy the May Day festivities

3) What have morris dancers got to do with it?

The traditional English dancers typically form part of the Jack in the Green parade in various towns, including as part of the Rochester Sweeps Festival. Jack in the Green is an old May Day tradition where a person wears a frame decorated in foliage, which is said to originate from milkmaids who carried milk pails that had been decorated with flowers and other objects as part of a procession. Morris dancers usually form part of the parade. You can find details of the Rochester Sweeps Festival here.

4) Are there going to be any special events in Kent?

Aside from the Rochester Sweeps Festival, there will be live music and the chance to watch Maypole and morris dancing, plus a grand tug of war at Kent Life's May Day festivities in Lock Lane, Sandling, near Maidstone, all between 10am and 5pm. There will also be a May Day parade and the crowning of the May King, Queen and Prince and Princesses. Entry is £9.95 and £8.25 for three to 15s. Book at kentlife.org.uk or call 01622 763936.

May Day is a day of traditional celebration
May Day is a day of traditional celebration

5) Hever Castle is also going to be hosting a May Day dancing event. A Green Man trail and family fun with a Jack in the Green procession at the historic building from Saturday, May 5, to Bank Holiday Monday. To find out more visit hevercastle.co.uk/whatson.

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