Cornwall

Presenters prepare for Flora Day

BBC Radio Cornwall's Tiffany Truscott and Tim Hubbard
Image caption Thousands of people are expected in Helston

Two of BBC Radio Cornwall's presenters are preparing to take part in a world famous Cornish tradition.

Thousands of people are expected to visit Helston on Saturday 7 May for the town's Flora Day. The ancient event is usually held on May 8 unless that day is a Sunday or Monday. The historic town becomes a mass of colour as shops and houses are decorated with greenery, bluebells and bright yellow gorse.

The main dance of the day is at Midday and men wearing morning dress and top hats and ladies wearing their finest long dresses, hats and gloves leave the Guildhall to dance around the town.

This year BBC Radio Cornwall's Tim Hubbard and Tiffany Truscott have been lucky enough to receive an invitation to dance at Midday.

Ladies taking part like to be quite secretive about what their dresses are like, Tiffany says hers is "different shades of blue".

The day sees those taking part dancing through the streets of the town, some even through local shops, following the sound of Helston Town Band who perform the famous tune.

The tradition of Flora day is thought to date back to pagan times when spring was welcomed in after the gloom of winter.

As dawn breaks in the town and the bells of St Michael's Church ring out everyone is anticipating the first dance of the day at 0700 BST.

The men wear white shirts and ties and the ladies look glamorous in their summer dresses as everyone looks and waits for the clock on Helston Guildhall to strike, when it does, the big base drum starts and the dancing begins.

The dance is a processional one with couples dancing with another couple, called a set. It is a tradition still that the leading set are always people who were born in the town.

After the morning dance comes the more boisterous play called the 'Hal-an-Tow', you can watch St George and St Michael slay the Dragon and the Devil, cheered by a lively crowd who often blow whistles.

BBC Radio Cornwall's Tim Hubbard will be broadcasting from Helston on the breakfast show on Saturday 7 May, so people who cannot make it to the town will be able to hear all about it.

The popular Children's Dance starts at 9.40 am and sees around one thousand local children of all ages dressed in white with the girls wearing flowers traditional to their schools in their hair. The main dance of the day is at Midday and men wearing morning dress and top hats and ladies wearing their finest long dresses, hats and gloves leave the Guildhall to dance around the town.

For those visitors coming to Helston, Coinagehall, its main street will be busy with many stalls selling crafts and food and young people often enjoy a visit at some point to the visiting fun fair at the bottom of town near the boating lake. BBC Radio Cornwall will be bringing you coverage of the day right up until the dancers leave at Midday.

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