Thousands of people take to the streets annually in Helston, Cornwall to celebrate what is believed to be one of Britain’s oldest traditions.
The town always look resplendent dress in Flags, greenery and flowers which the town’s folk had decorated the night before.
The men of Helston donned top hats and morning suits while women put on their best frocks to dance through the streets to celebrate Flora Day.
The origins of the dance are pre-Christian and are connected with ancient spring festivals all over Europe. It was believed to usher in prosperous harvests after winter.
The dance is held every year on May 8th unless that day falls on a Sunday or Monday, when it is held on the preceding Saturday, this year being on Sat 6th May.
The Flora Dance, also known as the Furry Dance, is one of the UK’s oldest customs still practised today and is said to be a celebration of the passing of Winter and the arrival of Spring.
Dances – which go all over the town and even in and out of private houses and shops – happen throughout day starting at 7am with the Early Morning Dance.
This followed by a pageant called the Hal-an-Tow, which re-enacts the battle of St George and the Dragon, which legends has, it took place over Helston.
The Children’s Dance the takes place at 9.45am, 1500 children from all Helston Schools process through the town dressed in white.
However the highlight is the midday dance – which was traditionally the dance of the gentry in the town – which is why men still wear top hats and tails while the women dance in dresses.
The day culminates with the Evening Dance at 5pm, this is a repeat of the morning dance with the same personnel which brings this fabulous day to a close for another year.