Elizabethan May Day Bank Holiday Event

5th – 6th May

Experience traditional Elizabethan May Day merriment with dancing and music

By Tudor times May Day had been an important festival for hundreds of years. There are many ancient beliefs about this time of year. It represents the end of winter, the return of the sun and fertility of the land. It is the day to feast, play games and make merry, to welcome spring and secure as much luck as possible for the year ahead.

This May Day, we are delighted to welcome back to Chiltern Open Air Museum the Suffolk Free Company and Myal Pyper to bring you a vibrant and engaging taste of Elizabethan (the first time round) life and celebration.

These knowledgeable, personable and talented folk invite all the family to join in as they celebrate May Day. 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 preside over a practice for the trained band, all-comers welcome, and there will be a fine display of 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!

Please note that all activities are subject to change and weather.

Standard admission prices apply. Free entry for Annual Pass holders.

Book tickets