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24 September 2014

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All eyes are on Padstow
The Children's 'Oss
The children of Padstow enjoy their special dance

People from all over the world are in Padstow for the annual May Day celebrations.

The town's big day is one of the oldest surviving customs in the Country.

Mayday Celebrations in Oxford 2003
Traditional May Day Celebrations take place in Oxford. Visit the BBC Oxford website to find out more about last year's event.

'Obby 'Oss
A great new website dedicated to the Blue 'Oss with features on the history of the historical event and some nice photos of May Day celebrations from the past.

Padstow Tourism
A nice site from the local tourist board offering a taste of Padstow.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.


+ The Padstow celebrations were first written about at the turn of the 19th Century.

+ It is believed that the origins go back to the 14th Century.

+ At midnight the first of the celebrations start with the singers serenading the landlord of the Golden Lion, Alan Rickard.

Please note this is an archive feature.

'Obby 'Oss Day 2005 will be on Monday 2 May

Thousands of people make the journey to Padstow on the 1st May to celebrate one of the oldest May Day traditions in the country.

The colours mixed with the passion of Padstownians makes the traditional 'Obby 'Oss celebrations a guaranteed memorable occasion.

Cobbler Roberts catches up with a friend in Padstow
Local character Cobbler Roberts (left)

The world famous custom that has its roots back in the 14th century, annually welcomes people who have travelled hundreds of miles to attend.

Padstonians travel across the world to be back home for the celebrations. Some revellers in the town are up all night thank to the traditional midnight start.

Rev Barry Kinsman
Rev Barry Kinsman enjoys the special day in 2003

The Chairman of the Padstow Old Cornwall Society, Rev Barry Kinsman, says it is a very special day.

"It is a celebration that is totally spontaneous," he says. "It's like summer is bursting into life. The whole community is vibrant today and very much alive."

Plenty of colour in the crowd
A splendid hat in the crowd in 2003

May Day in Padstow officially begins at midnight, when a groups of 'mayers' meet outside the Golden Lion Inn to serenade the owner with their Night Song:

Rise up, Mr. Rickard, and joy to you betide,
For summer is a-come in today;
And bright is your bride, that lays down by your side
In the merry morning of May.

It is not unusual to walk around the streets and meet people during the day who have not been to bed yet!

The May Pole always attracts a lot of interest

As the sun rises over Padstow on 1st May each year the streets will busy with people putting the finishing touches to shop windows choosing colours to support their chosen 'Oss.

The old streets, rich in history, will be ablaze with bluebells, forget-me-nots, cowslips, and sycamore twigs.

Colourful head gear
Flags and flowers in the hair in Padstow

Around mid morning on May Day each year the children will be getting ready for their special dance which takes place before the main 11am dance.

Padstow Harbour
The harbour at Padstow on 1st May

Early in the morning on the 1st May the streets of Padstow come alive with the traditional May Day song and its hypnotic tune.

Unite and unite let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.

The children from Padstow's schools will be beating away on their drums providing the all important rhythm for the Children's 'Oss. The youngsters enthusiasm continues through until 10am.

Musicians enjoy the May Day celebrations
Children and adults beat out the May Day Song

Throughout the day the hypnotic sound of the May Day Song is heard in the narrow streets.

Trevor Morris from Litchfield in the Midlands travels to Padstow for the first day of May every year.

"It's a lovely day for Padstownians," said Trevor in 2003.

"I was reading a book the other day about the First World War. On the 1st May with all the fighting two Padstownians were dancing in the trenches because it was May Day."

Peter Prideaux-Brune (top left) awaits  the arrival of the Old 'Oss
Peter Prideaux-Brune (top left) awaits the arrival of the Old 'Oss in 2003

The tension starts to mount again mid-morning for the appearance of the Blue 'Oss also known as the Peace 'Oss. The supporters of this 'Oss have their own website.

Click here to visit the Blue 'Oss site

The Peace 'Oss is led by a teaser and many dancers. They dress in white with blue sashes showing their support for the 'Oss.

The Old 'Oss
The Old 'Oss entertains the huge crowds

One hour later the Old 'Oss emerges to massive cheers from the crowd.

The hypnotic beat continues throughout the day as the crowd sing the traditional May Day song.

Are you going to be among the thousands who witnessed this year's celebrations in Padstow? Why not email your thoughts and pictures to us and we will add them to this page.

click here to email your pictures

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