Cornwall has marked the end of winter for centuries, and St Ives has its own set of May Day traditions that entertain visitors and include all kinds of festivities. The town has made efforts in recent years to revive some of the May day traditions, and today the festivities include events enjoyed by generations of St Ives residents.
Gather at the Guildhall at noon to watch the Grand Bard and Mayor select the year’s may queen and king (and of course their attending princess and prince) in a ritual that’s known as ‘pee whip’. It’s difficult to explain the rituals included in this ceremony, but suffice to say that it includes the St Ives Guisers, enthusiastic horn blowers who announce the beginning of spring and May sticks aplenty.
There’s a succession at 1pm that makes its way to the harbour, where the crowds are treated to may pole dances and traditional music that’s been enjoyed throughout Cornwall for centuries. Local choirs also add their performances to the entertainment, and the harbour remains the hub of the activity for the rest of the day. May Day is celebrated throughout Cornwall, and the customs vary from town to town, so celebrating the event in St Ives will never be quite the same as anywhere else.