Cornwall’s pagan roots are plain to see in many of the region’s ancient festivals and Flora Day, with the colourful pageant of Hal an Tow is no different. This ancient tradition is a celebration of the end of winter and the joyous return of spring’s fertility and new life.
On Flora Day, the town of Helston is decorated with greenery and flowers in a tribute to the spirit of renewal. In the old days people woke up with the dawn, so Flora Day starts early. At 7am a bass drum will mark the first beat of a series of dances that will go on all day long and into the evening.
The morning dance sees 80 couples leave the Guildhall and weave their way through the shops and buildings of the town to banish the darkness of winter and welcome the light of spring.
Hal an Tow itself begins at 8.30am on St. John’s Bridge. This is your chance to learn the story of the fight between St Michael and the Devil, St. George and the Dragon and the approach of the Spanish Armada.
After the Hal an Tow, 1200 school children take to the streets dressed in white, with flower decorations to perform their own processional dance. At midday, another dance begins, this time with the formally dressed men and elegant ladies in floral dresses. The evening dance begins at 5pm and brings this day’s celebrations to an end.
Spare a thought for the Helston Town Band who accompany the dancers up to four times throughout the day – each time walking a total of four miles, smiling the whole way, and never missing a beat.
This is a true connection to centuries of ancient tradition and a chance to be a part of the joy and enthusiasm that flow freely on Flora Day.
Times: 7am - 6pm
Parking: Available at the venue