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Walpurgisnacht Beltane Sabbat

May: Beltane to Frigg's Day

From the Festival of Scarecrows to Walpurgisnacht and World Healing Day, we cover this month's pagan rituals, moots, parties and events. Find out what's on around the world with our April events guide.

Always confirm place and date in advance. Most events will charge for your attendance. To have your event listed here contact us.

For events connected with Beltane/Walpurgisnacht click here.

Europe

Belgium

The Golden Chariot and Battle Of the Lumecon

200,000 people gather in Mons, Belgium to celebrate this unique festival. Dating back to 1380 when the Fraternity of Saint George set up a ceremony in honour of its patron, the 'Golden Chariot' carrying Christian holy relics is pushed through the town's streets. Later in the day, a dragon, known in as the Lumecon, arrives to terrify the townspeople, but Saint George appears to do battle with the monster.

  • Dates: 22nd May (to be confirmed)
  • Location: Mons, Hainault, Belgium.
  • Contact: Mons Tourist Office, Grand Place 22, 7000 Mons. Telephone +32 (0) 65 33 55 80. E-mail ot@mons.be

Denmark

Green Mermaid Festival

Copenhagen's annual Green Mermaid Festival focuses on the environment in the Copenhagen region, aiming to promote the city as the 'Environmental Capital of Europe'.

  • Dates: 18-21 May
  • Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Contact: Green Mermaid Festival Office, c/o EPA Copenhagen (Miljokontrollen), Flaesketrorvet 68, DK-1711 Copenhagen V. Telephone +45 33 66 58 00. E-mail miljoefestival@mff.kk.dk

Greece

Anastenaria

Every year, barefoot villagers of Ayia Eleni near Serres, and of Langada near Thessaloniki, get themselves worked up into a trance before walking over hot coals in honour of Saints Helen and Constantine, although the tradition of Anastenaria dates back to Pagan times.

  • Dates: 21-23 May
  • Location: Langada and Ayia Eleni, Greece.
  • Contact: Greek National Tourism Organisation, Amalias 26, Athens, Greece. Telephone +30 210 3310392. E-mail info_desk@gnto.gr

Italy

The Procession of the Snake Catchers

On the first Thursday of May each year the people of Cocullo in the Abruzzan hills enact an ancient ritual to ensure the good behaviour of the neighbourhood's snakes. At around midday the statue of Saint Domenico is brought out of the church and into the piazza, where the serpari (snake catchers) cover it with snakes and other reptiles. The movement of the snakes is interpreted such that if they curl around the head of the statue, it is a good sign, but if they twist along the statue's arms, it is less auspicious.

The statue, still covered in snakes, is then carried by the serpari through the streets. Church bells and fireworks accompany the procession as it is led by the town's clergy and girls, wearing costumes decorated with ciambelli, a type of doughnut made especially for the celebration. The festivities continue well into the afternoon.

The festival used to revolve around the god Apollo until Christians subverted it and supplanted the god with their tawdry saint. Up until 1940 the snakes used to be burnt alive outside the village church, but today they are released unharmed into the nearby fields.

  • Dates: 1st Thursday of May.
  • Location: Cocullo, Roma, Lazio, Italy.
  • Contact: Municipio di Cocullo. Telephone +39 086 449 117.

United Kingdom

Castleton: Ancient Garland Ceremony

After beating the bounds of the village, the Garland King leads a procession on horseback, carrying a bell-shaped garland of flowers to the market. Accompanied by a band and garland girls dancing the 'garland dance' the King and his consort stop at every pub on the route to refresh themselves. Once at the market the garland bell is hoisted up to the church tower, the garland girls begin the maypole dance and the celebrations continue well into the night.

  • Dates: May (to be confirmed).
  • Location: Castleton, Derbyshire, UK.
  • Contact: Emma Thirwell, The Walk, Buxton Rd, Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WP. Telephone +44 (0) 1433 621 595.
Combe Martin: The Hunting of the Earl of Rone

Traditional folklore festival, the origins of which are largely unknown, although legend has it that a real Earl of Rone, escaping from Ireland four centuries in the seventeenth century, was shipwrecked on the beach of Combe Martin and later found in a nearby forest.

The Hunting of the Earl of Rone begins on the Friday with a procession of Grenadiers. Local children then search through the forest for the Earl. The next day the adults begin their search for the Earl. On Monday, the masked Earl appears in a Donkey Parade. An effigy of the Earl is then marched down to the beach at sunset and thrown into the sea, to the delight of several thousand onlookers.

  • Dates: 26-29 May.
  • Location: Combe Martin, North Devon, UK.
  • Contact: Earl of Rone Council, Trafalgar House, Castle Street, Combe Martin, North Devon EX34 0JD. Secretary: Barbara Brown. Telephone +44 (0) 1271 882366. Email secretary@earl-of-rone.org.uk
London: Mind Body Spirit Festival

The longest running event of its kind in the world, the annual Mind Body Spirit Festival is a celebration of healing, meditation, yoga and all forms of holistic living.

  • Dates: 24-29 May .
  • Location: Royal Horticultural Halls, Greycoat Street &, Vincent Square, London, England.
  • Contact: Mind Body Spirit Ltd, 755 Fulham Rd, London SW6 5UU. Telephone 44 (0) 20 7371 9191. Email info@mbsfestival.com. Website www.mbsfestival.com.

North America

USA

May Day Fairie Festival

Lovers of the little people gather to enjoy Irish music and watch magicians and performance artists on seven stages at Spoutwood Farm near Glen Rock during Pennsylvania's annual May Day Fairie Festival.

  • Dates: 5-7 May.
  • Location: Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, USA.
  • Contact: Website fairiefestival.net
ELF Fest

Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary's Earth Folk Life (ELF) Festival includes musical and theatrical performances, primitive camping, hot showers, fellowship, community firepits w/firewood provided, seasonal rites and ceremonies, semi-annual Grand Council, kids' activities, workshops and discussion circles, drumming and dancing.

  • Dates: 24-29 May.
  • Location: 559 McFadden Ridge Road, Bedford, Indiana, USA.
  • Contact: P.O.B. 1082, Bloomington, Indiana, 47402-1082, USA. Website www.elvinhome.org.
Maryland Faerie Festival

Chesapeake Pagan Community's annual Maryland Faerie Festival celebrates Fairies and Nature with music and merriment! Vendors, wandering fairies, children's activities, crafts, entertainment.

  • Dates: 20-21 May.
  • Location: 17405 Queen Anne Road, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA.
  • Contact: P.O. Box 25242, Baltimore, MD 21229, USA. Telephone +1 888 607 9134. Website www.marylandfaeriefestival.org.
Rites of Spring

EarthSpirit and Tamelin Productions present a celebration of the sacred Earth and the turning of the seasons.

  • Dates: 24-29 May.
  • Location: Western, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Contact: P.O. Box 340-N, Williamsburg, MA 01096, USA. Website www.earthspirit.com/.

Asia

Japan

Sanja Matsuri

Asakusa Shrine's Sanja festival is the biggest of Tokyo's traditional 'Three Grand Festivals', a three-day weekend of traditional mikoshi (portable shrine) processions through the streets of Asakusa.

  • Dates: Starts 3rd Friday of every May.
  • Location: Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Contact: Website fairiefestival.net

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