May Day Festivities in Padstow

It's safe to say that May Day in Padstow is the largest event on the towns calendar. Whilst it is true that as locals we can appreciate the tranquillity that the winter brings, the beginning of the summer months fill us with hope for the warmer weather ahead, dreamy beach days and blissful back garden BBQ’s. It is therefore no surprise that when Padstow hosts it's annual Obby Oss festival on the 1st of May each year to celebrate the new season ahead, it certainly isn’t done by halves…

The Origin

May Day is an ancient spring festival dating back to the 19th century and widely celebrated throughout Cornwall, whilst its exact origin is unconfirmed the holiday is believed to have strong Celtic and Gaelic roots. The event is marked annually on the 1st of May where locals and tourists alike gather in their masses to celebrate spring ending and to welcome in the summer months.

Cornish Customs

For the fishing town of Padstow, who mark the occasion with their centuries old festival Obby Oss the day of festivities and celebrations start the night before with singing and dancing around the port. In the early hours of the following morning townsfolk then gather to decorate the streets with beautiful floral arrangements secured to poles and drainpipes ahead of the event. The festivities hold strong associations with the fertility of wildlife, animals and people as the warmer weather approaches.

The Event

The event kicks off again in the morning of the 1st with local children leading their Obby Oss’s through the town centre followed by two separate processions which then make their way, meeting occasionally to join each other in dance. They’re guided by teasers who lead the processions in a theatrical manner, these characters are easily recognisable by their distinctive top hats and decorated sticks. Before returning to their stables in the evening the two Oss’s then dance together around the maypole and mark the end of the procession. The festivities do not end here, with many spectators and local businesses celebrating into the evening.

It's safe to say that we would certainly advise anyone in the area to check out this unique spectacle with a traditional Cornish twist! If you can’t quite make it for the day, we do hope you’ve enjoyed our sneak peak into the events itinerary.

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