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Frolics and festivals - what to do this May bank holiday

May 1, 2013
by Laura Canning | seasonal

Getting into the May Day spirit Happy May Day! We hope – and fondly imagine – that y’all are twirling around maypoles, threading flowers through your hair and stepping out with some Morris dancing. (And pondering on revolution in between the frolicking: May 1 is also International Workers’ Day. To the barricades!)

May Day celebrations have been going strong in Britain for centuries, apart from when they were briefly banned by puritans in the seventeenth century (restored by party king Charles Two, of course) – and the May Day bank holiday is still alive and kicking despite Tory suggestions in 2011 to retire it. The very idea. Naturally, shenanigans of all sorts should be stretched out as long as possible – and in that spirit, here are a few things to do this May bank holiday weekend:

Take to the skies : No, not Biggles-like, although flying lessons are available near our Branscombe Airfield site if this be your thang. Most UK theme parks open their doors and rollcercoasters now for the summer season: have a look at our guide to UK theme parks for the main parks and where to stay nearby.

Get flowery : The famous flower floats of Spalding Flower Parade and Spalding Flower Festival are on parade this Saturday, with other events over the weekend including a craft fair, art exhibition and Morris dancing. There are also flower festivals and displays at the many medieval churches in the area: more details and a map here .

Stay : Our closest site with availability for the weekend is Lazy Acre six miles away, a family park opened in 2012 with a hot tub and fishing on site – and more flying lessons next door for taking to the skies. Electric pitches for tents start from £40 for two nights this weekend with tourer and motorhome pitches from £50. Or stay at pub campsite the Rose and Crown , which has non-electric pitches for the May Day break from £24 for two nights.

Home of tasty cheese. (Pic from UKsignpix, Wikipedia Commons) Roll cheese down a hill : It almost seems a sacrilege to treat our favourite cheese like this, but the Stilton Cheese Rolling event in Cambridgeshire is a British tradition nearly as old as governments trying to ban our holidays. The cheese rolling starts at noon on Monday, with the day also including dance groups, stalls and crowning of the May Queen and King.

Stay nearby and pick up more cheese at the farm shop of Tall Trees Leisure Park , which has pitches from Sunday from £10.50 a night.

Dig it : The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival at the heart of Dorset ’s Jurassic Coast is where to take your mini dinosaur hunters, with a gargantuan amount of activities on offer this weekend such as hands-on art, talks, a fossil fair and a fossily display from the folk at the Natural History Museum. We particularly like the sound of Horace, the travelling pliosaur cinema.

Stay : Stroll back to the dog-friendly Wood Farm Caravan and Camping Park a mile and a half from the festival, with a fishing lake on site, licensed shop, games room, café and indoor pool. Hardstanding electric pitches for tourers and motorhomes start from £45 for 3—5 May, with premium pitches also available from £56 for both nights. Tent pitches at Newlands Holiday Park two miles away start from £40 for both nights for non-electric and £48 for electric.

Come alive : Meet the characters of Henry II’s court at Dover Castle’s Great Tower from Saturday to Monday, with the Come Alive ticket price including entry to Dover Castle and its Second World War tunnels, Dunkirk recreation and old nooks and crannies – possibly with ghosts. The castle is also running a sleepover event in the Great Tower on 17 May, which is obviously the perfect excuse to base yourself in Kent for the month: the Rochester Sweeps Festival is on from 4—6 May too and the Maidstone Fringe Festival is on from this Thursday until Monday 6.

Stay : Base yourself in Ashford at Broadhembury Caravan and Camping Park , which has electric pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes in the couples only area from £60 for Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday nights; the family park area has hardstanding tourer and motorhome electric pitches from £74 for both nights.

Chuckle : Sarah Millican, Richard Herring, Isy Suttie, Mark Thomas, Stewart Lee…small wonder that the Grauniad and Indie have both praised the Machynlleth Comedy Festival as ‘a welcome break from the norm’ and ‘small but perfectly formed’. As well as the main acts, the Welsh festival has music, cabaret, children’s events and life drawing – with cream teas served at elevenses. It’s running from Friday to Sunday at various venues in Machynlleth.

Stay : Gwerniago Campsite is two miles from the festival, between Machynlleth and Aberdovey, and is near the RSPB reserve of Ynyshir, home of the BBC’s Springwatch. Grass pitches for any size of tent start from £45 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. At Cringoed Caravan Park eight miles away, grass pitches with no size restrictions are available from £51 for the three nights with optional electric hook-up.

For more festivals this weekend – and beyond – look at the festival finder on the Pitchup.com homepage, where you can search festivals by name or see at a glance festivals that are coming up soon. All our listed festivals have details of nearby campsites and caravan parks with their distance from the venues.

If none of the above tickle your fancy for May Day weekend, try:

Cheltenham Jazz Festival , Glos, 1—6 May

Electric Garden Festival , Blackpool, 3—4 May

Live at Leeds , Leeds, 3—5 May

Puravida May Gathering , Dorset, 3—6 May

Troyfest Music Festival , Herefordshire, 3—6 May

Elvis Weekender Festival , Bridlington, 3—6 May

Whitby Spring Session , Whitby, 3—5 May

Thornhill Music Festival , Dumfries and Galloway, 3—5 May

Stepping Stones Festival , Cumbria, 3—5 May

Dorchester Festival , Oxfordshire, 3—12 May

Wath Festival , Rotherham, 3—6 May

Or if your May Day activity holiday involves doing something a bit more quiet and/or solitary than festival going, look for a campsite or holiday park according to what’s available to do in the area, such as campsites with fishing nearby , sites in a walkers’ paradise or sites near watersports : browse through the ‘Themes’, ‘Nearby leisure and ‘Within 15 miles’ filters to find parks near what you want to do. You can also take a look at individual campsite and holiday park listings to find area info under ‘Local attractions’, with details of nearby pubs, walking routes, beaches, bike trails and must-sees, or browse through our available campsites and caravan parks for 3—5 May .

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