Things to do in England
What's on in May

Sometimes, a bit of planning comes in handy, especially when it comes to things to do in England.

May is the month when things really get going. For starters, there are two bank holidys in May: May Day and Spring Bank Holiday.

The other famous spring event is the traditional boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. It's one of those things to do in England that should be on your itinerary at least once in your life.

School holidays, family breaks or showing friends round will all pass a little easier when you know what's on in the neighbourhood. And if there's an event that really tickles your fancy, it's good to know beforehand when it's going to happen.

So here's a list of events that have become regulars on England's May events calendar.

late April or early May Flower Parade, Spalding, Lincolnshire
Spalding is world-famous for its bulb fields and vegetables, so no wonder that, in the 1920s, the citizens decided to celebrate all their hard work. And they haven't looked back. The Flower Parade, with spectacular tulip-studded floats, a Flower Queen and even its own fanfare, wends its way through the town to Springfields Arena for continuing merriment, while the whole area joins in.
May Morning May Morning Ceremony, Oxford
Oxford's May Morning celebrations start at 6am with the Magdalen College Choir singing a hymn, the Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower, a tradition that's said to go back about 500 years. The performance is so popular that crowds gather beneath the tower, along the High and on Madgalen Bridge to listen, and that the choir has even produced a CD named Music for a May Morning. And if you're attending one of the many May balls the night before, it's perfectly acceptable to stand on Magdalen Bridge in formal ball dress, listening to the music.
May Day Padstow Hobby Horse
A proper, old-fashioned May Day celebration, involving the famous Hobby Horse and processions, music and dancing in the streets.
8th May Helston Furry Dance, Helston, Cornwall
The Furry Dance celebrates the end of Winter and the arrival of Spring and goes back a veeeery long way. The Helston Town Band plays for the various dances held during the day and if you ever wanted to see men wear top hats and tails dancing in the street, this is your event. It's also great if you love lily of the valley. It's Helston's symbolic flower and everyone wears it. I could imagine the town to smell divine that day, so no wonder people travel from all over the world to see it.
13th May Garland Day, Abbottsbury, Dorset
Reaching back to the beginning of the 19th century, the village of Abbottsbury on the Dorset coast has celebrated the start of the fishing season by holding its Garland Day. Flower garlands, made by the children of the village, were blessed in church, before being rowed out to sea and dropped into the water. These days, the children dance their colourful creations through the village for all to admire.
Middle of May Watercress Festival, Alresford, Hampshire
Beloved by the Victorians and once shipped to London daily on the Watercress Express, watercress is Alresford's most famous product. And it's celebrated with the annual Watercress Festival. Competitions, entertainment and an amazing selection of foods made from or with watercress make this a wonderful day out in England. Watercress beer or icecream anyone?
29th May Garland Day, Castleton, Derbyshire
Castleton Garland Day, commemorating the restoration of King Charles II, is held on Oak Apple Day, the 29th May. The 3-feet-high garland is lifted onto the shoulders of the `King` who is dressed in Stuart costume, and paraded around the village pubs. Plenty of other jollifications and Stuart-costumed mayhem abound, making it one of those things to do in England of special interest for the historically minded of us.
Last Sunday in May Asparagus Auction, Bretforton, Worcestershire
The asparagus auction at the Fleece Inn in the tiny village of Bretforton marks the end to the month-long English asparagus festival. The village's silver band provides the entertainment, and there's a mini-food festival allowing you to taste lots of local goodies. Still, the asparagus festival is the newcomer here. The asparagus auction itself goes back much further. Just pop along and watch the fun!
Last Monday in May Cheese Rolling, Cooper's Hill, Brockworth, Gloucestershire
One of England's most unusual events, the famous Cheese Rolling has been held at Cooper's Hill for at least 200 years. Last year, the event was cancelled (officially) due to safety concerns. And I have to admit, chasing a truckle of cheese down this extremely steep hill, looks seriously scary. Especially as the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph (that's over 120km/h!). Nevertheless, an unofficial, locally-supported event did go ahead and supporters and afficionados hope that the same will happen this year. Keep an eye on the Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire website for updates.
Last Weekend in May Pie & Pint Music Festival, Leckhampton, Gloucestershire
The Pie & Pint Music Festival, held at Burley Field Lakes, is in it second year and proving a wonderful thing to do in England during the second bank holiday. The lineup of bands is inviting, there are about 50 different ales and ciders to sample and as for the pies.... For tickets, updates and news, please see the festival website.