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May Day Merriment at Chiltern Open Air Museum

5 May @ 10:00 am - 6 May @ 5:00 pm

Experience Elizabethan dancing, swordplay, gunpowder, and more at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

This May Day event at Chiltern Open Air Museum promises to be an immersive and engaging experience for all ages. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, this celebration of Elizabethan life is not to be missed. Join us as we step back in time and celebrate May Day in true Elizabethan style!

At this special event, the Suffolk Free Company and Myal Pyper will transport us back in time to the Elizabethan era, giving us a unique insight into the lives and festivities of that period.

During Tudor times, May Day continued to be celebrated as an important festival, rooted in ancient beliefs and traditions. The arrival of May marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring, symbolizing the renewal of life and the return of warmth and sunlight. This transition from the harsh, cold months to a season of growth and fertility was eagerly anticipated and celebrated.

May Day was a time to rejoice and make merry, as people welcomed the arrival of spring and the promise of a bountiful year ahead. It was a time to gather and feast, with communities coming together for large meals and communal celebrations. Food and drink were abundant, and people indulged in merrymaking and revelry.

Upon the Village Green the May Tree needs preparing, round which, for your enjoyment and to join in with, there will be music and dancing to the finest tunes and the most popular dances of the time. Noise is a big part of the May Day celebration, to awaken Spring, and, further to that end, there will be a display of firepower, featuring the black powder weapons of the day showing just how effective they can be at defeating that old adversary, the cabbage!

The soldiers will lead recruits (the audience!) of all ages in a military drill, and there will be a display of fine swordsmanship.

In between, you can wander amongst the encampment and see what is being eaten, drunk, made, and mended. There will be sumptuous food being prepared and a variety of craftspeople about their business, all for you to engage with or just listen, as you wish, though there will be no broom makers, this is considered extremely bad luck at May Day, as is going fishing!

Please note that all activities are subject to change and weather. There will be gun fire and canon bangs during displays.


5 May @ 10:00 am
6 May @ 5:00 pm
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Chiltern Open Air Museum
Newland Park, Gorelands Lane
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire HP8 4AB United Kingdom
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01494 871117
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