May Day is an ancient festival that has been celebrated across Europe for centuries, commemorating the end of a long winter and the newfound fertility of spring. While our culture has moved on some way, Britons still reap the benefits of the occasion – with this Monday (May 6th) being the May Day bank holiday.
Tourists staying in London hotels have no end of opportunities to celebrate the long weekend, with dozens of exciting and unusual events taking place around the capital. However, those wishing to participate in more traditional festivities this year should definitely make their way down to the Museum of London Docklands, which is hosting a full day of entertainment based on ancient May Day custom.
'May Day on the docks' offers a range of activities for museum visitors to take part in this bank holiday. These include handicraft workshops, traditional dancing, storytelling sessions and an opportunity to handle strange and exquisite objects from the colourful world of British folklore.
No traditional May Day celebration would be complete without Morris dancing, and the museum has invited the distinguished troupe Belles of London City to give a series of performances. These last 30 minutes, with the first show beginning at 1pm and the last at 3pm – so be sure you arrive in good time to catch them.
Furthermore, enthusiasts of this iconic British folk dance can take part in a special workshop to make their own 'tatty coat', the traditional garment worn by practitioners. Organisers ensure guests that no sewing skills are required, and the workshop is suitable for ages three and up. Once attendees are decked out in their beautiful new outfits, they're invited to join in a parade with the professional dancers.
To complete the parade, the museum asks all visitors to pitch in and help create a 'Jack in the Green', a impressive foliage-covered costume for one lucky participant to wear.
The Museum of London Docklands is a stone's throw from the Canary Wharf tube stop. Visitors also have the unique opportunity to arrive by Thames Clipper.