Enjoying Tradfolk? Click here to find out how you can support us
White Rose Morris dancing at dawn on May Day, 2011, at Castle Hill in Almondbury - Photo credit Bryony Griffith
White Rose Morris, Castle Hill, Almondbury. Photo credit: Bryony Griffith

May Day Morris: Where to find Morris dancing near me

The Tradfolk Morris Dancing guide is here to help you find your nearest side come rain or shine. Send us your info, share this guide around, and let the Morris commence.

Morris dancing can be seen throughout the year, but most sides hold a special place in their hearts for May Day. For many dancers, it’s bigger than Christmas. To help our uninitiated and tradfolk-curious readers celebrate the summer icumen in, we’ve put together this handy guide to where you might find your nearest Morris dancing event on May Day (that’s Wednesday 1st May), 2024.

If you’re new to the Morris, however, be warned: you’ll have to be up long before the day if you want to catch many of them in action. Oh, and look out for the beasts… they may be on the prowl.

If you’d like to share this guide on your socials, we’re using #MaydayMorris again to spread the word. Help us out, won’t you?

Why does Morris dancing happen at dawn on May Day?

There’s nothing quite like rising before dawn and assembling to dance (or watch others dance) the sun up as May Morning breaks. It seems like the most natural tradition there is. Far from being a tradition that grew out of the mists of time, however, morris historian Michael Heaney writes in his book, The Ancient English Morris Dance, that this is a far more recent occurrence than you might think.

We are dancing for the pleasure of those who have deserved well by rising early…

The connection between morris dancing and the May Day dawn had been,” tenuous at best,” explains Heaney, “and none of the morris teams encountered by Cecil Sharp and enshrined in The Morris Book had danced then.” In fact, dancing the sun up as a formal tradition seems to have begun on May Day, 1923, when the Oxford University branch of the EFDS (now EFDSS) danced through the city streets immediately after the choristers sang from Magdalen College Tower at 6am (itself a 500-year-old tradition). They danced, they said, “as a free gift to the city, in gratitude for the long and lovely survival here of the May Day celebrations… We are dancing for the pleasure of those who have deserved well by rising early, for our own pleasure, and in obedience to the Shakespearean dictum, ‘A morris for May Day’.”

Where to find Morris dancing near me?

Bampton Morris side - May Day Morris callout
ADD YOUR MORRIS SIDE TO THIS LIST
If you're a Morris side and you'd like to contribute details of your May Day dawn dances, please click the link below and fill out the form.
We’ve arranged the May Day Morris events according to country, county, and then town. Scroll down and you’ll find a list of regions. Clicking on the region of your choice will take you to where you want to be on this page.

Can’t find any Morris dancing near you? It’s only because we haven’t been sent the relevant info yet. Morris sides can get in touch via the little black box to the left of this paragraph. We’re very happy to receive new info.

This guide will continue to be populated as we get closer to the big day itself, so bookmark the page and come back if you want to find your nearest dance out.

To get started, click on your local county from the list below.

List of countries and counties

United Kingdom

Australia

Canada

New Zealand

United States of America

United Kingdom

Bedfordshire

Red Cuthbert Morris
Bedford Park
Bedford, MK40 2PF
May 1st, 5:30am
Dance style: Border
Insta: @red_cuthbert_morris

Red Cuthbert Morris will be up early for a dance on May Morning. Donations are welcome if you join them, and they’re keen to show newcomers how Border Morris dancing is done. You’ll have to wait a while for the cafe to open though… See their Facebook event for more information.

Buckinghamshire

New Moon Morris
Pitstone Hill
Ivinghoe, HP23 5RZ
May 1st, 5am
Dance style: Other
Insta: @new.moonmorris

New Moon Morris have been dancing the sun up and the sun down for as long as they have been established on Pitstone Hill – a wonderful position nestled in the beautiful Chiltern Hills and part of the ancient Ridgeway. It can be a bit tricky to find though, just off the B448. They tell us that, in the past few years, more and more locals have been venturing up the hill and audience participation is actively encouraged. Join them! See the Facebook event for more information.

Cambridgeshire

Fenstanton Morris
The Clock Tower,
Fenstanton, PE28 9LH
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @fenstantonmorris

Set your alarm and head into the middle of Fenstanton to watch the sun rise into the fen sky with Fenstanton Morris! You’ll be encouraged to give the dancing a try, but they’ll accept donations in lieu of participation (or as well!). For more information: facebook.com/FenstantonMorris

Cornwall

Wreckers Border Morris
Atop Kit Hill
Tamar Valley, PL17 8AX
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Border
Insta: @wreckersbordermorris

Clamber up Kit Hill just before day breaks for fine views of the surrounding landscape, and to see Wreckers Border Morris dancing like it matters – let’s hope they can bring the sun up over the Devon border. They’re a busy bunch, and always on the lookout for new dancers and musicians, so have a chat if you’ve ever fancied giving it a go. We’ve heard they don’t get much of an audience up there at early o’clock, so come on Tradfolkers, get your sense of adventure ready and get climbing! For more info: wreckersmorris.co.uk

Pensans Morris
Battery Rocks
Penzance, TR18 4FF
May 1st, 5.45am
Dance style: Border
Insta: @pensansmorris

Join Pensans Morris to welcome in the summer while they perform during the sunrise over Mount’s Bay. Catch the first light of May with them while most people are still sleeping! They’ll encourage you to have a go at the dancing if you like, and gladly accept donations on the day. For more info: Facebook event

Derbyshire

Powderkegs Morris
Windgather Rocks
High Peak, SK23 7RF
May 1st, 5:15am
Dance style: Border
Insta: @powderkeg_morris

Powderkegs Morris are a mixed side dancing traditional and evolved Border Morris around the Peak District. They’ll be dancing up the sun at Windgather Rocks (so wear something warm) near Whaley Bridge. After about an hour of hopping, they’ll finish with a song before retreating somewhere warm. We’ve heard the scenery is breathtaking so worth the early start. For more info: powderkegs.co.uk

Devon

Plymouth Morris
The Hoe Promenade (above Smeaton’s Tower)
Plymouth Hoe, Plymouth PL1 2PA
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Plymouth Morris will be in their usual spot above Smeaton’s Tower on the Hoe, resplendent in their distinctive kit – look out for the galleon in full sail on their tabards (no baldricks here), their Petty Officer-style hats, and their unusual dark blue wavers (that’s hankies to you and me). You’ll be in fine company if you join them as the Lord Mayor is often in attendance! Later in the day, at 7.30pm, you’ll find them starting their summer dance out programme outside The Dolphin pub. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Dartington Morris
Totnes Castle
Castle St, Totnes, TQ9 5NU
May 1st, 5:40am (no entry fee at this time)
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @dartingtonmorris

Dartington Morris dance the sun up on May Day in the splendid Norman keep of Totnes Castle (with the kind permission of English Heritage). They welcome spectators, who can watch over proceedings from the top of the castle walls, which also offer lovely views across the rooftops to the River Dart. It’s an energetic climb up the castle hill and keep steps, so do pop on some sturdy footwear for the occasion. No beasts have been reported in the vicinity (though a fool or two may be in attendance) and donations are accepted. For more information: dartingtonmorris.uk

Dartington Morris in Totnes Castle, post-sunrise

East Sussex

Brighton Morris Men and Cuckoo’s Nest Morris
Hollingbury Hill Fort
Ditchling Rd, Brighton, BN1 8GB
May 1st, 4:30am
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @brighton_morris

Brighton Morris and sister side Cuckoo’s Nest will be up long before the day-o. Get yourself along to the bridle path on Ditchling Road for the ungodly hour of 4.15am, before ascending the hill for some quality Cotswold Morris time. As the sun rises, they’ll dance around the hill fort before heading back to Brighton for a big breakfast, and then further dances around the city. No beasts in attendance, and donations are welcomed. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Ashdown Forest Morris Men
Enchanted Place
Gills Lap, Ashdown Forest
Hartfield, TN22 3JD
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

OK, so obviously there’s no competitive nature to this May Day Morris list, but Ashdown Forest Morris Men win a lot of location points for seeing in the dawn in Winnie the Pooh world. Best be on the look out for heffalumps as you join the morris by the A.A Milne dedication, where no other beasts or participation are expected, but where donations are welcome. For more information: AFMM Facebook Page

Hampshire

Victory Morris
The Spur Redoubt
Portsmouth, PO5 3XX
May 1st, 5.10am
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @victory_morris

Victory Morris will be at home in Portsmouth to dance up the sun at The Spur Redoubt. The Spur Redoubt was the site from which Nelson headed off to board the Victory on his way to the Battle of Trafalgar, so it’s the perfect place for the ship’s namesake dancers to do their thing. Donations are very welcome, and they promise you won’t even have to join in. For more information: victorymorrismen.org.uk

Yateley Morris Men
Wyndham’s Pool
Yateley, GU46 6BE
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Yateley Morris Men dance for about half an hour each May morning, and encourage you to join them, either as merely spectators, or with the purpose of having a go yourself, before they finish with a song. They’ll be joined by the “Famous Yateley Horse”. If you’d like to be there, head to Cricket Hill and walk from there. For more information: www.yateleymorrismen.org.uk

Kent

East Kent Morris
Wye Memorial Crown
Ashford, TN25 5DF
May 1st, 5:20am
Dance style: Cotswold

East Kent Morris will dance the sun up at 5.20am at the Wye Memorial Crown before dancing in Wye village and later at Perry Court Farm. We’ve heard that their horse, Invicta, is actually considering getting out of the stable in time for May Morning this year! The side would love to see you having a go at some dancing too. Might as well, once you’re up… For more information: ekmm.org.uk

Motley Morris
Bluebell Hill Picnic Site
Bluebell Hill
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Border

Join Motley Morris up Bluebell Hill to help wake up their Jack. Bring your best cheering voices but no need to bring your dancing shoes. For more information: www.motley-morris.co.uk

London

Belles of London City and London Pride Morris
Primrose Hill
May 1st, 5:15am
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @belles_of_london_city

The Belles of London City will be joining with London Pride to dance up the sun on Primrose Hill this year on May Day. They welcome you to join them – and tell us that greenery and flower crowns are encouraged! So grab your branch of May, head to the top of one of London’s most picturesque peaks, and watch the summer cumen in together. For more information: www.bellesoflondoncity.com or Lpmm.org.uk

Greenwich Morris
Greenwich Park gates
Duke Humphrey Road, Blackheath
May 1st, 5:30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Greenwich Morris are planning a dawn dance on Duke Humphrey Road, Blackheath, just by the gates to Greenwich Park. Then, following breakfast, they’re heading off to dance at the Queen’s Head on Chislehirst High Street. If you’re heading into work on the A2, keep an eyeball hovering over Blackheath and you should spot them. Donations are welcome. No beasts forthcoming on this occasion. For more info: greenwichmorris.org.uk

Greensleeves Morris
Wimbledon Windmill
Wimbledon Common, SW19 5NR
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

They’ve been dancing since 1926 (and don’t they look well on it?!) but Greensleeves Morris still have the energy to bring in the summer at the windmill on Wimbledon Common. Pop along, meet Hengist (if he’s got out of bed in time), and enjoy that London sunrise. No reports of Wombles in the area, but best beware, just in case. For more info: www.greensleevesmorris.org.uk

Merseyside

Mersey Morris Men and Mockbeggar Morris
Bidston Observatory
Wilding Way, Birkenhead
Prenton, CH43 7RA
May 1st. 5:30am
Dance style: Cotswold and North West

The Mersey Morris Men tell us that they love the stillness of the top of Bidston Hill – if you arrive early, you’ll hear the gentle tinkle of bells and hushed voices amongst all the birdsong as they climb up through the woods. There’s the added bonus of spectacular views over Liverpool as the sun rises. Assuming he has arrived back from his long migration, their Liver Bird will also be in attendance, along with friends Mockbeggar Morris dancing in the North West style. For more info: merseymorrismen.com

Norfolk

Golden Star Morris and Kemps Men of Norwich
St James’ Hill
Mousehold Heath
May 1st, 5am
Dance style: Cotswold

Golden Star Morris will be starting their May day dancing on St James’ Hill, on Mousehold Heath, and will be joined by Kemps Men of Norwich. Plenty of opportunities to see them leaping, in this, their fifth decade as a dancing side, as once they come down from the hill, they’ll move to the Forum followed by the Cathedral (at about 6am and 7am respectively) before they retire for a well-earned breakfast. Park at the prison and follow the sound of bells! For more information: www.goldenstarmorris.org.uk

Nottinghamshire

Rattlejag Morris and Trentside Holme Morris
Castle Hill
Laxton, NG22 0NY
May 1st, 5:20am
Dance style: Plough Morris and Cotswold
Insta: @rattlejag

Rattlejag will be joined by Trentside Holme Morris for their annual May Day dance. They will be welcoming the first sunrise of summer atop Castle Hill – to join them, park in the village of Laxton and follow the footpath north from the main road (not quite opposite the church) to the Mediaeval hill fort. The walk should take you about 20 minutes. As always, they will be providing bacon sandwiches (veggie option available), tea, coffee and beer for a small donation. It doesn’t get much more welcoming than that! See the Facebook event for more information.

Oxfordshire

Eynsham Morris
The Square
Eynsham, OX29 4HW
May 6th, 11am
Insta: @eynshammorris

Eynsham Morris have a proud tradition stretching back to the 19th century and probably beyond. They only perform dances from the village and all members must live in or have been born in Eynsham to join. This event is their annual village tour, starting at 11am and running into the evening, but they will also be appearing (and dancing) in Oxford on May 1st from 6.00am at the Radcliffe Camera. No beasts expected, per se, but watch out for the Green Man. Donations very welcome. For more information: eynshammorris.org.uk

Somerset

Kittiwake Border Morris, Molly No-Mates and Rag Morris
Brandon Hill
Park Street, Bristol
May 1st, 4.30am
Dance style: various

There’ll be dancing a-top Brandon Hill by as many Bristol-based sides as can find it in themselves to leap out of bed pre-4am on May morning. Donations will be welcomed and having a go is actively encouraged. For more information: www.facebook.com/kittiwakeborder.

Enigma Border Morris and Wyvern Jubilee Morris
Ham Hill
Stoke Sub Hamdon, TA14 6RW
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: various

You can enjoy a veritable morris party up Ham Hill, with not one but two sides in attendance this May day! They’ll be dancing in the lay by usually occupied by the ice cream van, so you’ll probably have to forgo your early morning 99 with a flake. Park in Long View Car Park. For more information: treacleeaterclog.org.uk

Glastonbury Border Morris
Chalice Well Gardens
St Edmunds Hall, Windmill Hill, Glastonbury
May 1st, 10am
Dance style: Border
Insta: @glastonburymorris

Join Glastonbury Border Morris and beast Glastinga the Dragon for their Beltane celebrations. You’ll be encouraged to have a go, and/or chuck some coins (or notes if you’re feeling flush) into their donation pot. For more information: linktr.ee/glastonburymorris

South Yorkshire

Lord Conyers Morris Men
The Trysting Tree
Kiveton Lane, Todwick, S26 1JJ
May 1st, 5:30am
Dance style: Cotswold

This will be the 49th year that Lord Conyers Morris Men have been dancing up the sun on May Morning. Primarily a Cotswold Morris side, they have flirted in the past with clog dancing, longsword and Border Morris. Onlookers should head to the site of the Trysting Tree (coming out of Todwick towards Kiveton on Kiveton Lane just past the speed limit signs), where donations will be welcome but you definitely won’t be cajoled into waving a hanky in solidarity. See their Facebook event for more information.

Suffolk

Rumburgh Morris
Broome Common
Ditchingham, NR35 2NZ
May 1st, 5.20am
Dance style: Cotswold

After dancing the sun up at the Long Barrow on Broome Common, Rumburgh Morris will be ready for some breakfast, they tell us. You work up quite an appetite with this dancing malarkey apparently, so from the common, they’ll head to the Buttercross Cafe. They’ll be accepting donations, and welcome anyone wishing to have a go. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Warwickshire

Flowers of Ilmington Morris
Larkstoke Hill
Ilmington
April 30th, 7.45pm
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @flowersofilmingtonmorris

Because another local side already have sunrise on May morning covered, Flowers of Ilmington Morris dance the sun down on 30th April, to encourage it to rise again on 1st May – and they haven’t failed yet! If you don’t fancy an early morning, this is the event for you. Everyone is welcome, and you won’t have to have a go, or anything like that. Park at the corner of Nebsworth Lane and Ebrington Hill and walk towards Mickleton Road to watch. See their Facebook page for more information.

Shakespeare Morris
Bancroft Gardens
Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BA
May 1st, 5.20am
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @shakespeare1959

Shakespeare Morris will dance up the sun on the Bancroft Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon, overlooking the River Avon – a tradition revived in the early 1980s. Bawdy Court records held by Holy Trinity Church in Stratford show Morris Dancers being fined for dancing on the Feast Day of St. Philip and St. James (May 1st) in the mid-1500s, but hopefully no such bad luck will befall this side, and their Jack in the Green. For more info: shakespearemorris.org.uk

West Sussex

Worthing Larks
Worthing Promenade
Worthing, BN11 3PX
May 1st, 5.30am

Will you be up with the Larks on May morning? The Worthing Larks, that is! They’ll be on the seafront promenade by Worthing Pier, then on the pier (weather permitting) and then outside the Lido. They’ll be joined by their very own Larks, who’ll be partaking in a dance – that’s right, the Worthing Larks will be larking about with the Worthing Larks when they dance ‘Up With The Larks’ in Worthing. Got it? For more information: facebook.com/worthinglarks

Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men
Chanctonbury Ring
Washington, South Downs
May 1st, 6.30am
Dance style: Mumming

We love some hilltop May Morning action and the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men will be welcoming the May from 240 metres up. If you join them, you’ll enjoy glorious views of Sussex in addition to their dancing, but fair warning, reports of a beast of noble heritage in the area have been submitted. Chanctonbury are the keepers of Georgian the Dragon, whose Mother was the Lyminster Dragon and Father the St Leonards Dragon. Donations welcome at any time. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Wiltshire

Sarum Morris
Old Sarum Castle
Salisbury, SP1 3SD
May 1st, 6.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Join Sarum Morris to welcome the sun on May Day, as they’ve been doing at this location for over 20 years. They’ll be in their customary colours of white, gold and blue – the colours of the city of Salisbury – but you’ll probably want to wrap up warm against the morning chill. Donations are accepted, but no beasts will be getting up for the event. For more information: www.sarummorris.co.uk

Worcestershire

Pebworth Morris
Little Meadows
Pebworth, WR11 8JN
May 1st, 5:00am
Dance style: Cotswold

Starting at Little Meadow just outside the village of Pebworth to dance up the sun, Pebworth Morris will tour Pebworth & associated parishes of Dorsington and Broad Maston, before returning to their spiritual home at the Fleece Inn, Bretforton. After a hearty fry up and perhaps some liquid refreshment, they’ll dance up the pub’s neighbours then head off on their traditional mystery tour before returning to The Fleece in the early evening. Ben the Donkey may make an appearance, though we’re told he’s disinclined to head out in the rain so fingers crossed for a dry spell. For more information: andydavies0368.wixsite.com/pebworth-morris-men

Australia

Western Australia

Perth Morris Men, Mad Tatters, Marlee Morris and Fair Maids of Perth
War Memorial
Kings Park, Perth
May 1st, 5.50am
Dance style: Cotswold and Border
Insta: @marlee_morris_dancers

Many of the good morris folk of Perth meet before dawn near the War Memorial in Kings Park and start dancing, with Perth Morris Men on hosting duty. No beasts have been reported – far too early to get a horse out of its stable, we’re told. Afterwards, in an enviable display of Aussie-ness, they adjourn to another section of Kings Park for a barbecue breakfast. For more information: marleemorris.morris.org.au

Canada

Alberta

Magpie Morris
Old Strathcona Gazebo
83 Ave NW & 104 St, Edmonton
May 1st, 5.50am
Dance style: Cotswold

This is your chance to join the Magpies as they gather in Old Strathcona at the Gazebo and dance in the dawn. In case you hadn’t checked, 5.50am is early and the sun won’t be up yet (obviously) so dress warmly. No beasts reported in the area, and no audience participation required. See their Facebook page for more information.

British Columbia

Vancouver Morris Men and Tiddley Cove Morris
Trimble Park
Point Grey, Vancouver
May 1st, 5:30am
Dance style: Mumming

For over 40 years, the Vancouver Morris Men have been active exponents of some of our curious English traditions all the way over there on the western edge of Canada, and this year will be no different. They’ll be up early to perform a mummers play, joined by their trusty obby oss, and friends Tiddley Cove Morris. How could you possibly miss it?! Donations gratefully received, as are enthusiastic onlookers (someone’s got to boo the play’s baddies, after all). For more info: vancouvermorrismen.org

New Zealand

Auckland

City of Auckland Morris Dancers
Museum Forecourt Auckland Domain
May 1st, 7am
Dance style: Cotswold

These dancers have been performing Cotswold Morris for 40+ years (although they’re not averse to a little Border here and there, too). No beasts reported in the vicinity, and donations are not requested. Just bring your good selves. For more information: aucklandmorris.org.nz

United States of America

Connecticut

Mystic Garland Dancers
Connecticut College Campus
Mohegan Ave Pkwy, CT 06320
May 1st, 5:45am
Dance style: North West

The Mystic Garland Dancers are known for dancing the North West Morris clog tradition as well as garland dancing and ritual sword dances (so watch out). They’ll be dancing the sun up with the Westerly Morris Men. No donations are necessary but spectators are most welcome. For more information: sites.google.com/view/mysticgarland

Massachusetts

Newtowne Morris
John W. Weeks Bridge
Cambridge, 02163
May 1st, 5.30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Celebrating 50 years of service to summer this year, Newtowne Morris once again invite you to wake up the summer on May Day. You can expect morris dancing, Maypole winding, and traditional May Day songs to help ensure that the sun keeps shining for at least another year. The Newtowne asian unicorn (Ki-Lin) often appears, along with other unicorns or hobby beasts and green people. For more information: newtowne.org

Ten Hill Morris
Davis Square
Somerville, MA, 02144
May 1st, 6.30pm
Dance style: Cotswold
Insta: @tenhillmorris

Not fancying the early morning get-up, Ten Hill Morris will be dancing on May Day evening around Davis Square outside of Boston. They’ll be accepting donations, but you won’t be asked to have a go at Ten Hill’s take on the Oddington tradition. For more info: tenhillmorris.com

Montana

River Way Morris
Sound of Music Trail
Lincoln Hills, Missoula
May 1st, 6am
Dance style: Cotswold

Get out early and find the mysterious River Way Morris on the Sound of Music Trail early on May morning. They’ll let you have a go if you ask nicely.

Washington

SeaWitch, Sound and Fury Morris and Mossyback Morris Men
Gasworks Park, Seattle
May 1st, 5:30am
Dance style: Cotswold

Welcoming brand-new side SeaWitch to the May Day Morris directory! They’ll be joining friends, singers and assorted beasts for the annual May morning dance out in Gasworks Park. Look out for Finn the salmon and Ogo Pogo the lake monster. No donations necessary.

Sound and Fury morris dancing in Washington with their beast, Finn the salmon.
Sound and Fury Morris dancing with Finn the salmon. Pic via their website.