Cornwall's Premiere Destination

Sailing Sailing Camel Estuary

For a version of the Padstow May Day song listen to this album by Steeleye Span. British Light Classics. Listen to Sir John Betjeman's British Poems.

Obby Oss

The Oss and 'teaser' at the May Pole
1) The Oss and 'teaser' at the May Pole.

The first day of May is Obby Oss day in Padstow.* The origins of this traditional celebration are lost in the midst of time but it is thought to celebrate the arrival of Spring and may even be an ancient fertility festival.

* Unless May 1st falls on a Sunday in which case the Obby Oss celebrations take place on the Monday - May 2nd.

Inhabitants of Padstow (those born in the town) traditionally dress in white, with family loyalties dictating whether they follow the 'Red'/original Oss, or the 'Blue'/peace Oss.

Both Oss' are similar in appearance and perform a dancing ritual accompanied by an hypnotic folk song (unique to Padstow) around the town. Each Oss is lead by a group of followers as they make their way through the narrow streets and around the harbour.

The festivities start at 10am with the 'Blue' Oss making its first appearance from its stable, followed at 11am by the appearance of the 'Red' Oss from its home. Celebrations go on all day until the Oss' finally go to bed after 10pm.

The flags lining Strand Street
2) The flags lining Strand Street.
The May Pole showing a silhouette of the Obby Oss
3) The May Pole showing a silhouette of the Obby Oss.
The Obby Oss being teased in Broad Street
4) The Obby Oss being teased in Broad Street.
The Oss at the May Pole
5) The Oss at the May Pole.
A full view of the May Pole in Broad Street
6) A full view of the May Pole in Broad Street.
The Oss and 'teaser'
7) The Oss and 'teaser'.