Celebrate Flora Day at Home
Spring is here and with it a host of Cornish festivals. On Friday the town of Helston should be decorated with greenery, the streets ringing with the sounds of Helston Town Band as they lead couples dancing around the streets. Of course this year plans have changed and Flora Day will be taking place in a very different way.
Here’s how you can celebrate this treasured Cornish festival in your own home (and learn about it if you’ve not yet taken part).
If you would like to get an overview of Flora Day, you can read more here or watch this short video to get a flavour of this ancient festival.
1. Experience the music
Helston Town Band have been called “the beating heart of Flora Day” as they lead each of the four dances around the town. They’ve released a series of videos to celebrate the iconic Furry Dance music. You can see some one man versions here and here, as well as watch this wonderful video from the band’s Musical Director, Kevin Johns, as he talks through what the Day is like for the band.
2. Share your celebrations
The Flora Day Association would like to see how you are celebrating at home. Be sure to share your photographs with the hashtag #Floradayathome
3. Watch the Hal-An-Tow
Contrasting with the Furry Dance, is the noisy, anarchic Hal-An-Tow. The celebration includes dancing, loud chanting and singing, folk stories such as St Piran’s journey to Cornwall and St Michael defeating the Devil. As the pageant moves through the town they make as much noise as possible to drive out drive out the old and welcome in the new, “summer is a come-o, and winter is a gone-o!”
4. Decorate your home
Flora Day is all about celebrating Spring and the town is decorated with bluebells, greenery and other hedgerow flowers. Why not decorate your own home instead?
5. Explore the Museum Collection
The Museum of Cornish Life have been sharing Flora Day themed items from their collection on their Facebook Page. Director Annette has also created a video where she talks dresses, souvenirs and photographs.
6. Sing up!
From 11am – 12noon, crowds gather on Cross Street to sing traditional songs including The White Rose, Cadgwith Anthem, and (of course) Trelawney. Hit and Miss have recorded themselves singing The Lily of the Valley, a song about the flower everyone wears on Flora Day.
7. Get creative
Helston based artist Alice Hole has created special Flora Day themed colouring in sheets, they can be downloaded from Alice’s website here for free.
The Museum of Cornish Life are also sharing crafty makes, and on Thursday you can join them to make your own Flora Day Dancer.
8. Re-live past Flora Days
Join the Flora Day Appreciation Group on Facebook to see photos of Flora Day across the years, from pictures of the Morning Dance from the 1950s, to the Hal-An-Tow in the 1980s. You can also share your memories by tagging Flora Day Memories on Facebook.
9. Listen to the Furry Dance
Coast FM will be broadcasting the Furry Dance across the air waves. Tune in at 7am, 10am, 12 noon and 5pm (the start times of each dance) to hear the iconic tune and maybe even dance around your living room!
Tune in on 96.5fm or at coastfm.co.uk/player
10. Get your Spingo Fix!
The Blue Anchor are now doing home delivery! Celebrate with the taste of Helston, straight to your doorstep.
More information on how to order here
11. Tune In!
The Helston Packet will be broadcasting each of the dances from 2019 live on it’s Facebook page. There will also be a virtual live stream of each dance on YouTube, which will automatically play at the right time.
Both streams are a great way to spot your friends, appreciate the gorgeous outfits, hear the iconic music, and feel part of Helston’s special day in a different way.