May Day: Ushering in summer with bells, flowers and dancing

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The Independent Online

For those of you who think May Day is a distress signal, May 1st is a marvellously hotchpotch day of festivities which combines traditions and superstitions from Paganism, Gaelic, Christianity and even chimney sweeps.

It features Morris dancers dressed in white, with bells on their knees and their toes, flowers on their hats and handkerchiefs in their hands. May Day revellers leap into rivers, dance through the streets decked out in garlands of flowers and perform Pagan rites to welcome the summer season. For, as the saying goes, 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out...' which means don't discard your winter warmers until the first day of May.

Around the country this weekend crowds will gather to celebrate May Day in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. From the Beltane Fires of Edinburgh to the Jack in the Green festival in Hastings, we've rounded up ten of the best ways to usher in summer this weekend.

Click on the image to launch our guide to ten ways to usher in May Day