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Where are the most accessible places to celebrate May Day?

26th April 2019

May Day is a traditional and popular event that often takes place at the start of the month (usually 1 May), but in 2019 it will take place on 6 May.

There are lots of events occurring across the UK that celebrate May Day and there’s plenty of places where you can join in on the fun. So, even if you suffer from mobility issues and need to use stair lifts at home, there are lots of places to enjoy the event.

This guide looks at what May Day is, where you can celebrate it and what makes these events so special.

What is May Day?

The celebration of May Day dates back to ancient times or to be more precise when the Romans celebrated the festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring.

In the UK, Celts celebrated the festival of Beltane on 1 May to mark the halfway point between spring and summer.

Where are the most accessible places to celebrate May Day in the UK?

There are lots of places to celebrate May Day and for visitors who suffer from mobility issues, there are lots of accessible events you can attend.

Beltane Fire Festival

Location: Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The Beltane Fire Festival is an annual celebration that marks the start of the summer season and features fire, body paint and art.

The festival draws inspiration from ancient Gaelic traditions as there are lots of pagan and elemental dancing and fire displays as well as a May Queen!

Becca Inglis, the Communications Coordinator at Beltane, tells us why she’d recommend visiting the festival: “It's a one of a kind festival that puts a modern spin on the ancient Celtic festival, Beltane. Fire play, acrobatics, drumming, elaborate costumes, and immersive theatre all combine to create a dazzling spectacle watched by an audience of thousands. We're known all over the world for our contemporary celebration of Celtic folklore, so it's well worth seeing just once.”

The festival is accessible as visitors using a wheelchair can get access to the hill using the accessible entrance on Carriage Drive. Some hard standing is available, but the grassed area of the hill can be uneven. A wheelchair-accessible toilet will be available and carers for patrons with a disability or otherwise requiring accompaniment will be provided with a free ticket.

Becca Inglis, adds, “Audience members with mobility considerations often prefer to head straight to the stage area at the beginning, rather than follow the procession, to find a great place to watch from. Our friendly stewards will be on hand to help you get situated and give you any information you might need. Look out for the painted people in orange hi-vis jackets.”


Location: Windsor

Legoland Windsor is a great place to celebrate May Day with the whole family as there are attractions suited to children as well as older adults.

There is a mixture of Lego-themed rides, models and workshops for you to enjoy over the May bank holiday. There are roller coasters like The Dragon and the Dragon’s Apprentice, interactive adventures like Laser Raiders and Lego City Driving School to name just a few.

Older adults who struggle with their mobility can still enjoy a safe, fun-filled day at the resort as there are wheelchairs and motorised scooters available to hire, a hill train to take visitors around the park and free carer tickets. There’s even a sensory room to allow guests with additional needs to enjoy a quiet moment.

Legoland also offers a Ride Access Pass to assist guests with a physical disability to help prevent them from standing for extended periods of time.

Jack-in-the-Green Festival

Location: Hastings

This annual May Day event runs from 3-6 May and takes place in various parts of this seaside resort.

Over the four-day Jack-in-the-Green Festival, there are thousands of people who turn up to watch Morris dancers and a costumed parade – regarded as one of the most bizarre in the UK. There’s also music from the best local bands and attractions to entertain the whole family.

The Jack in the Green Parade tops off the festival as it takes place on Bank Holiday Monday and starts at the Fisherman's Huts in Rock-a-Nore Road in the Old Town and finishes on the West Hill. It is here where you will get to enjoy more traditional folk dancers and live music.

The town is accessible to visitors with mobility issues and wheelchair users and you can enjoy the parades or music without having to worry about access issues.

Calke Abbey

Location: Ticknall, Derby

Calke Abbey is a popular place to visit as it tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The house and stables are little restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story.

Visitors can discover powerful stories of a family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures. Visit the beautiful, yet faded walled gardens and explore the orangery, auricula theatre and the kitchen gardens. Escape into the ancient and fragile habitats of Calke Park and its National Nature Reserve.

Calke Abbey will be putting on a range of free-to-attend May Day celebrations as visitors can come and cheer on Morris dancers at the Riding School.

The abbey is accessible to visitors with mobility problems as there are:

•Designated mobility parking spaces

•Buggy service operated between the car park and house/garden

•Disabled toilet available near visitor reception

•Wheelchair access to parts of the house (and virtual tour available)

•Wheelchairs available to borrow

•One tramper available to borrow

Helston Flora Day

Location: Helston, Cornwall

The Helston Flora Day is arguably the most famous May Day event in the whole of Cornwall as for hundreds of years the townsfolk have celebrated this event.

The ancient festival is usually held on 8 May and the spring festival celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of new vitality and fertility.

All the houses and shops in the town go all out to celebrate this iconic event by decorating themselves in greenery and floral arrangements and it all begins at 7 am when a big brass drum strikes.

One of the highlights of the day is when some eighty couples dance through the streets and enter selected houses and shops to drive out the darkness of winter and bring the light of spring and summer.

Visitors with mobility problems can easily get around the town and if you’re looking to go on a short break around this part of Cornwall, then there are plenty of accessible holiday cottages and attractions you can visit.

Life Science Centre

Location: Newcastle

The Life Science Centre is a unique, award-winning tourist attraction in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne where one ticket gets you everything! Inside the science centre, visitors can get hands-on with science in the Experiment Zone and Brain Zone, experience live science shows in the Science Theatre, get creative in the brand-new Creative Zone (which opens 25 May) and sit back, relax and explore the Universe in the North’s biggest planetarium!

To celebrate May Day with your grandchildren you can enjoy lots of exhibitions and displays such as ‘Face to face and out of this world’ and ‘Moonstruck’.

The Life Science Centre is very accessible to visitors with mobility problems and the attraction currently holds the Equality Standard Gold Award.

The science centre has level access, with lifts to all floors as well as spaces for wheelchairs available in the planetarium and Science Theatre. There is also on-site parking for blue badge holders, which is available on request (subject to availability), drop-off points for minibuses and coaches (must be pre-arranged before visit) and a fully accessible car park located close by.

The best events and places to celebrate May Day


•Beltane Fire Festival

•Calke Abbey

•Life Science Centre

•Helston Flora Day

•Jack-in-the-Green Festival

If you found this guide interesting, then you should take a look at similar guides on the blog.

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Image credits: Rod Allday

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.