One of the oldest surviving festivals in the UK happens every May in Padstow on the North coast of Cornwall. The Obby ‘Oss is a unique celebration not to be missed.
The Obby “Oss festival is thought to be a celebration of Beltane, the Celtic feast which honours the approach of summer. It is held in the streets of the harbor town of Padstow on the 1st of May every year. On years when the first falls on a Sunday, like this year, the festival takes place on the following Monday.
Flowers, bunting, flags, and a striking May Pole decorate the old harbour and narrow back streets. In the morning two “Osses” are let loose in the town amongst a parade of thousands. The old Obby ‘Oss leaves its stable at the Golden Lion Inn whilst the newer Blue Ribbon Obby ‘Oss is stabled at the Padstow Institute.
Once the ‘Osses leave their stables teasers lead them through Padstow, where they pretend to catch maidens along the route. Locals dress in white with red and blue sashes to show which team they are on. There are dancers, triangle and accordion players, and drummers in each procession . Children don their own mini ‘oss costumes for the parade as well.
At the end of the day the Obby “Osses meet under the maypole before returning to their stables as the crowds sing songs of their demise.
The event is free to attend. If you are in the area on May Day bank holiday it might be one for your activities list.
If you can’t get to Cornwall this weekend there are webcams set up with live feeds of the event. At the same time as watching the parade why not partake in a few Cornish delicacies? Cream teas, pasties, Cornish Ale or Cider, not forgetting the delicious Cornish seafood available to buy right here.