Helston is abuzz with excitement this morning as the town comes together for the biggest day on its calendar – Flora Day.
The annual feast day sees normal working practices set aside for 24 hours, with merriment in its place.
To be asked to lead one of the dances is among the highest honours the town can bestow.
This year’s leading set of the Morning Dance at 7am and Evening Dance at 5pm is Richard and Ceri Harvey, followed by Andrew Steadman and Laura Frew.
Leading the Children’s Dance this year at 9.40am is Parc Eglos Primary School and they have chosen year six pupils Ewan Swan, Dylan Donaldson, Lucy Stuart and Claudia Kitchen to lead them.
During the Children’s Dance the second Helston Town Band group will stand outside Grylls Monument at the bottom of Coinagehall Street, while the school pupils dance around the Bowling Green, to allow more of the children to hear the music as they make their way along the final stretch of the dance. This was trialled last year to great success.
For the Ancient Furry Dance, at midday, which always attracts the largest crowds, the four Helstonians selected to lead are Hannah Oliver and Maxim Cardew, followed by Adam Collier and his sister Dr Sara Rogers.
One of the most picturesque places to watch is the beautiful Lismore Garden, opened to the public once a year for Flora Day by kind permission of owner Michael Jay. With a large lawn for spectators to sit on and a lake at the bottom to dance around, via a gravel path, it is the perfect backdrop for the rainbow of coloured dresses.
However, its beauty also means it is one of the most popular locations to see the dance and for this reason the gates are closed once the garden is full.
Other popular locations to see the dances include around the Bowling Green at the bottom of Coinagehall Street (not the Morning Dance), the grounds of Penhellis Care Home and outside the Guildhall in the centre of town, as the venue for the start of the dances (except the Children’s Dance).
Of course this also means that crowds can stretch back five or six deep here, so with almost the entire town featuring on the routes there are plenty of other places to just pick a spot and enjoy a clearer view.
For all involved, preparation will have been taking place for the past few months, with outfits carefully chosen for the occasion.
After the end of the Ancient Furry Dance, at approximately 2.15pm, there is a break in proceedings before the Evening Dance at 5pm, allowing people the chance to enjoy the stalls in Coinagehall Street and Monument Road, as well as head to the fairground set up opposite Coronation Park, before returning for the final dance of the day.