May

Widespread celebrations welcome the month of May with a range of customs including dancing, flower decorating, May Queens and fairs. Boundaries are checked, Morris Dancing moves up a gear and there are two Bank Holidays.


Some events take place on exactly the same date every year, regardless of which day of the week they fall upon. The following table shows events which are fixed in this way:

DayEventArticle
1Dancing in the MayArticle
1Deptford Jack in the GreenArticle
1Dorset OoserArticle
1Islington Milkmaids GarlandArticle
1Laxton May DayArticle
1Minehead Hobby HorseArticle
1Oxford Hymn SingingArticle
1Padstow May DayArticle
1Southampton Hymn SingingArticle
8Helston Flora Day & Furry DanceArticle
13Abbotsbury GarlandArticle
29Castleton GarlandArticle
29Great Wishford GrovelyArticle
29St Neot Oak Apple DayArticle

Some event dates differ from year to year in order for them to fall on a weekend or during a particular week of the year, for example the 3rd week in January. The following table shows events where dates may vary in this manner:

DateEventArticle
Late April to late JuneWorcestershire British Asparagus FestivalArticle
Near 1stCharlton-on-Otmoor Garland CeremonyArticle
May - various datesJack in the GreenArticle
April or May every 5 yearsBodmin Beating the Bounds & HurlingArticle
A Sunday in April or MayLondon The Tudor PullArticle
A Sunday in April or MayMaldon Mud RaceArticle
A Sunday in late April or early MaySwithland Wood Bluebell ServiceArticle
A Saturday in May, June or JulyFenny Bentley World Toe Wrestling ChampionshipArticle
A Saturday in May or JuneKent World Custard Pie ChampionshipArticle
All MonthWell DressingArticle
1st SaturdayBristol Jack in the GreenArticle
1st SaturdayGawthorpe MaypoleArticle
1st SaturdayKnutsford Royal May DayArticle
1st SundayCalderdale Spaw SundayArticle
1st SundayLambley Cowslip SundayArticle
1st Sunday Penzance May HornsArticle
Saturday before May Day Bank HolidayBerwick Riding the BoundsArticle
Saturday before May Day Bank HolidayEly Eel DayArticle
Saturday before May Day Bank HolidaySpalding Flower ParadeArticle
Saturday before May Day Bank HolidayWath Festival & Bun ThrowingArticle
Sunday before May Day Bank Holiday MondayBlackawton International Festival of WormcharmingArticle
Sunday before May Day Bank HolidaySt Agnes Bolster DayArticle
Sunday before May Day Bank HolidayDorset Knob ThrowingArticle
Sunday before May Day Bank Holiday Thornborough BeltaneArticle
May Day Bank Holiday WeekendHastings Jack in the Green FestivalArticle
May Day Bank Holiday WeekendRochester Sweeps FestivalArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayClun Green Man FestivalArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayHungerford Crafty Craft RaceArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayLewes Garland DayArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayKempton Park Mascot Grand NationalArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayPickering Road Community Orchard May CelebrationsArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayRye Mayor MakingArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayStilton CheeserollingArticle
May Day Bank Holiday MondayWhitstable Jack in the GreenArticle
2nd SaturdayRandwick WapArticle
2nd SundayCovent Garden May Fayre & Puppet FestivalArticle
10 (earliest possible date)Whit SundayArticle
Thursday nearest 12thStow Horse FairArticle
Friday mid-monthEly Hoop TrundleArticle
Saturday nearest 17thBurford Levellers DayArticle
A Saturday Mid to late in MonthScorton Silver ArrowArticle
Weekend mid MonthMoulton Village FestivalArticle
A Sunday mid-MonthMeriden Cyclists Memorial ServiceArticle
3rd Wednesday Newbiggin Beating the Bounds & Dunting the FreeholderArticle
3rd ThursdayHarwich Kichel ThrowingArticle
3rd ThursdayGuildford Dicing for Maids MoneyArticle
3rd SaturdayHigh Wycombe Weighing the MayorArticle
3rd SundayAlresford Watercress FestivalArticle
Friday late in MonthBedworth Bun DayArticle
A Sunday late in MonthBrixham Blessing the FleetArticle
Last Saturday in MonthPenicuik Huntsman & Lass Article
Saturday near 29thDurham Nevilles Cross AnthemsArticle
Saturday near 29thFownhope Heart of Oak Society Annual Club WalkArticle
Last Sunday in MonthAston-on-Clun Arbor DayArticle
Sunday near 30thBawburgh St Walstan's DayArticle
Spring Bank Holiday Friday to MondayCombe Martin Hunting the Earl of RoneArticle
Spring Bank Holiday weekend SaturdayWirksworth Carnival & Well DressingArticle
Spring Bank Holiday Saturday & SundayBlair Castle Atholl GatheringArticle
Spring Bank Holiday Sunday & MondayUffington Scouring the White HorseArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayBampton MorrisArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayBarwick Maypole RaisingArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayCharing Hooden HorseArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayCoopers Hill Cheese RollingArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayLichfield Court of Arraye & Greenhill BowerArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayManchester Whit WalkArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayTetbury Woolsack RaceArticle
Spring Bank Holiday MondayWellow Maypole CelebrationsArticle
Friday after Spring Bank Holiday (sometimes still in May)Chipping Campden Cotswold OlympicksArticle
Weekday late May/early JuneBarking Nepton DistributionArticle

Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday; it is the fortieth day after Easter Sunday so can fall anywhere between 30th April and 3rd June. Rogation Monday and Tuesday, and Ascension Eve are the days leading up to Ascension Day. This period is traditionally associated with boundary checking, walks and processions.

DateEventArticle
Rogation SundayLeighton Buzzard Wilkes WalkArticle
Rogation SundayMudeford Blessing the WatersArticle
Rogation MondayNorth Shields Blessing the SeaArticle
Rogation MondayWishford Key AuctionArticle
Ascension EveHastings Blessing the SeaArticle
Ascension EveWhitby Penny HedgeArticle
Ascension DayAscension Day Rooftop SingingArticle
Ascension Day or near dateBeating the BoundsArticle
Ascension DayBisley Well DressingArticle
Ascension DayCambridge Ascension Day CarolArticle
Ascension DayLichfield Beating the BoundsArticle
Ascension DayLondon Beating the BoundsArticle
Ascension DayOxford Beating the BoundsArticle
Ascension DayPortland Beating the BoundsArticle
Ascension DayTissington Well DressingArticle
Sunday nearest Ascension DayBrightlingsea Blessing & Reclaiming of the WatersArticle

Whitsuntide is a festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Disciples. It is the seventh Sunday after Easter so varies in date, always falling between mid May and mid June. Because it is easier to plan events for a fixed date each year, many former Whitsuntide events have been moved to Spring Bank Holiday instead. Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Whitsun and celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) ;  Corpus Christi is the Thursday after Trinity and honours the body of Christ. In the UK this was a major festival before the Reformation but is now comparatively little known outside the Roman Catholic Church.

DateEventArticle
Whit SundayBristol Rush SundayArticle
Whit SundaySt Briavels Bread & Cheese ScrambleArticle
Whit SundayShenington Grass StrewingArticle
Whit TuesdaySt Ives (Cambs) Dicing for BiblesArticle
Trinity MondayRothwell Rowell Trinity FairArticle
Corpus ChristiArundel Corpus Chisti Carpet of FlowersArticle