Elizabethan May Day event

Sunday 5th and Bank Holiday Monday 6th May

Experience Elizabethan May Day merriment with dancing, swordplay, gunpowder and more!

During Tudor times, May Day continued to be celebrated as an important festival, rooted in ancient beliefs and traditions. The arrival of May marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring, symbolizing the renewal of life and the return of warmth and sunlight. This transition from the harsh, cold months to a season of growth and fertility was eagerly anticipated and celebrated.

May Day was a time to rejoice and make merry, as people welcomed the arrival of spring and the promise of a bountiful year ahead. It was a time to gather and feast, with communities coming together for large meals and communal celebrations. Food and drink were abundant, and people indulged in merrymaking and revelry.

At this special event, the Suffolk Free Company and Myal Pyper will transport us back in time to the Elizabethan era, giving us a unique insight into the lives and festivities of that period.

Upon the Village Green the May Tree needs preparing, round which, for your enjoyment and to join in with, there will be music and dancing to the finest tunes and the most popular dances of the time. Noise is a big part of the May Day celebration, to awaken Spring, and, further to that end, there will be a display of fire power, featuring the black powder weapons of the day showing just how effective they can be at defeating that old adversary, the cabbage! The soldiers will lead new recruits (the audience!) of all ages in a military drill, and there will be a display of fine swordsmanship.

In between, you can wander amongst the encampment and see what is being eaten, drunk, made and mended. There will be sumptuous food being prepared and a variety of crafts people about their business, all for you to engage with or just listen, as you wish, though there will be no broom makers, this is considered extremely bad luck at May Day, as is going fishing!

This May Day event at Chiltern Open Air Museum promises to be an immersive and engaging experience for all ages. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, this celebration of Elizabethan life is not to be missed. Join us as we step back in time and celebrate May Day in true Elizabethan style!

Please note that all activities are subject to change and weather. There will be gun fire and canon bangs during displays.

This is a Premium Admission event. Free entry for Annual Pass holders.

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