Ancient May Day festival celebrated in South Tyneside

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AN ancient English festival whose origins can be traced back to pre-Roman times, is being celebrated at a South Tyneside museum next week.

On Monday, Bede’s World in Jarrow is turning back the clock for a day of family activities inspired by centuries-old May Day traditions.

The event originates with the Pagan festival of Beltane, although the earliest celebrations are thought to have occurred during Roman times, when the arrival of spring would be celebrated with a day of dancing dedicated to the goddess Flora.

Later, in the 16th century, English villagers would dance around birch maypoles, and visitors to Bede’s World on Monday will be able to follow in their footsteps with maypole dancing.

Monday’s events will also include St George and the Dragon performances at the museum’s amphitheatre, storytelling and music from Fools Gold and Compass Acapella, a 40-strong vocal group.

There will also be Anglo Saxon re-enactors, stone carving and wood-turning and the chance to try a variety of traditional crafts, with children being encouraged to make their own May Day garlands.

The celebrations will culminate in the crowning of a May queen and king to lead a procession around the farm.

The event will begin at 10am. Entry costs £5.50 for adults, £3.50 concessions and £13.50 for a family ticket for two adults and up to three children.

Entry is free for children under five and carers of disabled visitors.

For more details, visit www.bedesworld.co.uk.