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A member of Boss Morris, decked in greenery, smiles for the camera. She is standing in a woodland glade on Rodborough Common, Stroud.
Photo credit: Jon Wilks

Dancing up the Sun – May Day, 2023

Our round-up of photos and videos of morris dancers dancing up the sun on May Day, 2023. The summer is icumen in and winter's gone away.

Where were you this fine may morn? Were you tucked up in bed, or were you up long before the day-oh? By our estimate, 1500 morris dancers took to the hills and streets, dancing up the sun to welcome in the May. For those that missed it (and those that were there and fancy a bit of posterity), here’s our round-up of May Day dance-outs for 2023.

But hold on… before we get into that… a few stats. Last year (2022), in the run-up to (and including) May Day, 1845 people visited our May Day Morris List. This year, 2470 turned up (roughly a 34% increase), including 900 of you this morning alone (a bit late to be planning your May Day celebrations, if you ask us, but at least you showed up). So, thanks to everyone who danced, everyone who sent in your details, and everyone who turned out to watch. A merry May to you all!

Tradfolk made a beeline for Rodborough Common, Stroud, where Boss Morris, in the company of Miserden Morris, danced for a crowd of around 400 people (up from the usual 20, the told us… must be the Wet Leg effect).

Boss Morris leaping on Rodborough Common, all wearing white with greenery.

Led by modern morris legend, Alex Merry (she appears in the newly-published tome, The Ancient English Morris Dance, so we think we can call her that with impunity), Boss danced three dances, swapping over with Miserden, who were watched over by an imperious and very serious beast…

As the dancing wrapped up, the two sides led a procession – the audience following along like some kind of gathering army – to a woodland glade, where they invited onlookers to decorate their Jacky-O-the-Green in a bringing in the May ritual.

And then it was back to the Prince Albert for bacon baps and strong coffee. There can’t have been many pubs with a queue this long outside them at 7am this morning…

Dancing the sun up across the globe

Keeping an eye on social media, here are some of the images that we were tagged into and really caught our eye.

And it’s “g’day” from Adelaide, as the Adelaide Morris Men dance the sun up and get things underway in South Australia.

Border Reivers Morris danced the sun down on the west coast of Scotland, before skedaddling across to the east side to dance the sun up. An exceptional piece of work.

The Worthing Larks were up with the larks on Worthing Pier.

Long Man Morris begin their ceremonies at the Long Man of Wilmington, Eastbourne.

Some fine dancing from Clausentum Morris at Hastings Jack of the green.

Sheffield City Morris looking sturdy at Hastings Jack in the Green.

White Rose Morris and Thieving Magpies take on Castle Hill, Huddersfield.

Crowds in attendance as the dancing begins at dawn in Hastings. (Video by @lucycagepics.)

Claire Patterson caught three sides dancing the sun up on Box Hill, Surrey.

Our very own Tradfolk Rach, dancing the sun up at Willis Neck, the highest point in the Quantocks.

Folk artist, Lucy Wright, introduces “hedge morris dancing”, “borrowing from the book by Rae Beth, ‘Hedge Witch, a guide to solitary witchcraft’. It’s for those of us who don’t have, or can’t be with a group of morris siblings, on May morning, but who still feel the call to dance up the sun!”

The Kennett Morris Men in South Stoke village, heading for a pre-dance pint.

Pebworth Morris dance the sun up at the glorious Fleece Inn, Bretforton.

Romney Marsh Morris at, er (checks notes) Romney Marsh.

The Belles of London City inviting summer into the capital on Primrose Hill.

Datchet Morris do the business at Runnymede.

Fox Whelp Morris having a bit of a rest at Arthur’s Stone, Herefordshire.

Whitchurch Morris find some summer for the National Trust at Coombe Hill.

Brighton Morris, Cuckoo Morris, Coton Morris and Littleport Riot, dodging the rain in Ely…

The Ashdown Forest Morris Men seem to have brought their own film crew with them. Very quick turnaround, chaps!

Angeline Morrison, giving it some at Boscawen-Un in Cornwall.

More footage from Hastings Jack in the Green. The giant is known as Hannah. You can read all about her in our Hastings Giants article.

The Folk Archive caught the garland action in Lewes.

The Ilmington Morris Men, having just seen up the sun over Ebrington Hill.

Malmesbury Morris dancing up the sun on behalf of Wiltshire.

Rattlejag Morris invite the summer in on Castle Hill, Laxton.

Ledbury Morris, dancing the sun up at National Trust Croome.

Pecsaetan Morris, bringing up the sun at Croome.

Greenwich Morris has the crowd in raptures.

Minster Stray Morris Dancer great a glorious sunrise at Castle Howard.