During the May Fayre national festival London’s shopping districts and church parishes come alive with traditional British entertainment – expect food stalls, street performers, puppet shows, fairground rides and plenty of drinking. For most British towns, May Fayre marks the first major national celebration of the spring and is a platform for some of the biggest carnivals of the year. Here are three of the biggest events in and around the capital:
Covent Garden Puppet Festival
If you’re going to be in London on Sunday 10th May, Covent Garden will guarantee a day filled with tasty British cuisine, world class puppetry and traditional brass music. The big event at this year’s May Fayre is the Puppet Festival. Here Punch and Judy puppeteers from all over the country will congregate for a day of good old-fashioned fun.
The festival will open at 11am, and will be led by a live brass band. Afterwards there will be a toast to Mr Punch, who celebrates his 353rd birthday this year; then a special church service will take place at noon. The puppet shows will begin at 12.30pm and end at 5.30pm. During this time you’ll be free to partake in workshops, test your skills at maypole dancing, and even socialize with clowns. Folk music will be provided by The Lost Marbles String Band.
Notting Hill MayFest
Formally known as St John’s Festival, the annual Notting Hill MayFest brings together the best local musicians and contemporary artists over a two week period. The event starts on 1st May and celebrates the May Fair on Saturday 9th May. A big Mayflower Parade at St Johns Church concludes the celebration at 12pm on Saturday 30th May.
The MayFest, May Fair and Mayflower Parade are all completely free of charge. The opening of the event will begin at St John’s Church with a performance from acclaimed organist Stephen Farr. A further two recitals will take place at lunchtime at St Peter’s Church on the following Mondays. The programme of music, art and family activities will continue until Sunday 10th May.
Richmond May Fair
The 45th consecutive Richmond May Fair will take place on Saturday 9th May on the green of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene. The Art of Living Choral Group, St Margret’s Elastic Band and Al Fresco Steel will be providing music during the day, while rock band Nark Drool and the Shudders will conclude the event with a set filled with 50s classics.
The Richmond May Fair will guarantee a day filled with traditional 19th century entertainment with over 100 charity stalls, a vintage carousel and helter-skelter, maypole dancing, the crowing of Richmond’s May Queen, and plenty of food. All of the proceeds from the event will go to a local charity.
The May Fayre tradition is one of the oldest in England. There’s no better way to celebrate our unique heritage and learn a thing or two about our ancestors along the way. But not everyone likes to be transported back to the 19th century… If you’re not one for traditional British entertainment and would prefer to celebrate the coming of spring in a slightly more adventurous manner, take a trip on The London Helicopter.