Hildegarde Velasquez

Hildegarde Velasquez

Modified & Updated: 08 Sep 2023

Source: Cornwalllive.com

Helston Flora Day is a vibrant and joyous event that takes place annually on May 8th in Helston, Cornwall. This traditional celebration has deep-rooted historical significance and has been cherished by locals and visitors for centuries. It is a day filled with colorful processions, music, dance, and a strong sense of community spirit.

Helston Flora Day is believed to have originated as a pagan festival celebrating the arrival of spring. Over time, it became intertwined with Christian traditions and now serves as a unique fusion of pagan and Christian customs. The day is marked by the famous “Hal-an-Tow” ceremony, where locals dress up in traditional costumes and enact historical plays.

This article will delve into 16 fascinating facts about Helston Flora Day, shedding light on its history, traditions, and significance to the local community. So, let’s embark on a journey to discover the captivating allure of this remarkable event.

Table of Contents

The Origins of Helston Flora Day

Helston Flora Day, also known as Furry Dance, is a traditional spring festival celebrated in Helston, Cornwall, England. It has been held annually on May 8th for centuries and is believed to have pagan roots.

The Oldest Traditional Dance Festival

Helston Flora Day is recognized as one of the oldest traditional dance festivals in the United Kingdom, with evidence of its existence dating back to at least the early 18th century.

The Symbolic Start of the Day

The day begins with the “Hal-an-Tow,” a performance that symbolizes the battle between winter and spring. Participants wear elaborate costumes and sing ancient songs while parading through the streets.

The Furry Dance

The highlight of Helston Flora Day is the famous Furry Dance, where dancers weave through the streets of Helston in a procession accompanied by music from the town band. The steps of the dance follow a specific pattern and are performed alongside the “Hal-an-Tow” singers.

Only Locals Can Dance

Traditionally, only Helston natives are allowed to participate in the Furry Dance. This exclusive privilege is granted to individuals who were either born in Helston or have lived in the town for at least seven years.

Floral Displays Everywhere

During Helston Flora Day, the whole town is adorned with vibrant floral displays. Buildings, shops, and houses are decorated with elaborate flower arrangements, adding to the festive atmosphere.

The Midday and Evening Dances

In addition to the Furry Dance, there are two more dances that take place on Helston Flora Day. The Midday Dance is performed in the town center, while the Evening Dance is held in the evening, featuring dancers dressed in formal attire.

The Coin Throwing Tradition

Throughout the day, it is customary for participants to throw coins to the crowd during the dances. This gesture is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

The Helston Flora Day Pageant

The Helston Flora Day Pageant is a grand procession that showcases historical and cultural themes. Participants wear traditional costumes and carry banners as they parade through the streets of Helston.

No Modern Gadgets Allowed

Helston Flora Day maintains its traditional charm by adhering to strict rules, which include a ban on modern gadgets and attire. Participants are required to wear traditional dress, ensuring an authentic and immersive experience.

Hundreds of Visitors

Helston Flora Day attracts hundreds of visitors each year, both from within Cornwall and across the globe. People come to witness this unique celebration of Cornwall’s heritage and join in the festivities.

A Celebration of Spring

Helston Flora Day is a joyful celebration of the arrival of spring and the renewal of life. It is a time when the community comes together to embrace the changing season and express gratitude for nature’s bounty.

The Global Impact

Helston Flora Day has gained recognition worldwide and has inspired similar festivals in other parts of the world. Its influence can be seen in events such as May Day celebrations and traditional dance festivals in different cultures.

A Testament to Tradition

Helston Flora Day serves as a testament to the preservation of traditions and local customs. The festival has remained largely unchanged over the years, providing a glimpse into Cornwall’s rich cultural heritage.

Supporting Local Businesses

Helston Flora Day is an important event for the local economy, with many businesses benefiting from increased tourism and visitor spending. It provides a boost to local shops, restaurants, and accommodations.

A Sense of Community

Above all, Helston Flora Day fosters a strong sense of community spirit among the residents of Helston. It is an occasion for neighbors, friends, and family members to come together and celebrate their shared heritage.

As one of the oldest and most cherished traditions in Cornwall, Helston Flora Day offers a captivating insight into the region’s culture and history. With its unique dances, colorful displays, and lively atmosphere, this festival continues to captivate both locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a fan of traditional festivities, history, or simply looking for an enriching cultural experience, Helston Flora Day is not to be missed.


In conclusion, Helston Flora Day is a vibrant and unique event that has deep historical roots in the charming town of Helston, Cornwall. This annual celebration brings together locals and visitors alike to partake in a day filled with traditional dances, colorful costumes, and joyful music. The rich symbolism behind the event reflects the town’s pride in its heritage and serves as a reminder of the importance of community and celebration.Helston Flora Day continues to captivate the hearts of all who are fortunate enough to witness it. Whether you are drawn to the energetic dances, the stunning floral displays, or the lively atmosphere, this event offers a truly unforgettable experience. So, mark your calendar and make your way to Helston to immerse yourself in the magic of Flora Day.


1. What is Helston Flora Day?

Helston Flora Day is an annual celebration held on May 8th in the town of Helston, Cornwall. It is a day filled with traditional dances, parades, and music, showcasing the town’s rich cultural heritage.

2. How long has Helston Flora Day been celebrated?

The origins of Helston Flora Day can be traced back to the medieval times, making it one of the oldest surviving traditional festivals in the UK. The event has been celebrated for well over 500 years.

3. What are the dances performed during Helston Flora Day?

The main dances performed during Helston Flora Day are the “Furry Dance” and the “Hal-an-Tow.” The Furry Dance involves dancers holding colorful ribbons and weaving through the streets of Helston. The Hal-an-Tow is a reenactment of historical events and features characters in elaborate costumes.

4. Can anyone participate in Helston Flora Day?

While the main dancing roles are reserved for Helston town residents, visitors are more than welcome to join in the celebrations and witness the festivities. It is a chance to experience a slice of Cornish culture firsthand.

5. Are there any specific dress codes for Helston Flora Day?

Participants in the dances usually wear traditional costumes, which include men in suits and top hats and women in white dresses adorned with colorful ribbons. Visitors are not required to dress in traditional attire but may choose to do so if they wish.

6. What other activities are there during Helston Flora Day?

In addition to the dances, Helston Flora Day features a variety of other events such as floral displays, live music performances, and street stalls offering local crafts and food.