May Day

May Day in Seattle takes two distinct forms. While some take to the streets to march in recognition of International Workers’ Day, others take a more ancient route and gather around maypoles to choose their May King and Queen. I went along to Woodland Park to watch as a group of Seattleites welcomed spring with music, games, dancing and an impressively ornate maypole decked with yards of ribbon.

There were three-legged races, toss the egg competitions, tightrope walking and a good old-fashioned tug ‘o war.

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

Flower garlands and brightly coloured ribbons reigned supreme; even bicycles joined in the festivities.

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

But the real spectacle was the raising of the maypole and the weaving of the ribbons as the crowds danced to the thump of live drumming.

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

may day, maypole. seattle, washington, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

What did you do this May Day?

xxx Ailsa

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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62 Responses to May Day

  1. this post is outstanding! i love every image, the bicycle would make a scrooge smile, and the thought of the tribal thump thump thumping of the drums making the maypole dance warp into a frenzy of color made me laugh! and laugh. how great it must have been to witness that!

  2. Thanks for posting your pictures! We used to go to a wonderful May Day party every year when I was a kid. It was so much fun to grab a ribbon and weave around. 🙂

  3. Margaret says:

    The decorated bicycle is wonderful.

  4. bebs1 says:

    Oh my, it looks like a big bundle of fun for the whole family! I’ve only seen one Maypole in the German alps but then we missed the festivities.

  5. Roberta says:

    We went to a nursery and bought flowers…

  6. Deb says:

    Lovely to see THIS May Day in Seattle rather than what made all 3 top news channels last night. Maybe you should send some of these photos into KING, KOMO, and KIRO and show them what a wonderful outdoor celebration May Day can be.
    My granddaughter and I made a May Day basket for her parents even though she’s only 8 months old!

    • ailsapm says:

      I know, Deb, I’m glad I chose to celebrate May Day in Woodland Park rather than downtown! Wow, your granddaughter is getting an early start on crafting, I love it. 🙂

  7. I think you should get the best May 1st award of all time for color, swirling and fun!! This was just mood elevating all around! I would re-blog it but I have only a fraction of your followers so just BRAVO! ♛♛♛ <—- My personal award : )

  8. kelihasablog says:

    What beautiful pictures! They take me back to when I was a child and we celebrated May Day. It looks like everyone had a wonderful time! 😀

    • ailsapm says:

      It was a really fun day, the tightrope walking was pretty cool, I was amazed how many kids just hopped on up and were able to walk quite easily along the rope! 🙂

  9. kitkatknit says:

    50 years ago, when I was in the 3rd grade, my 3rd grade class practiced for MONTHS to do the MayPole dance for the spring concert and PTA meeting. Dress rehearsal went perfect!!!!! Not so when it came to the actual event. Oh well!!!!! May 1st was also the day we’d as children fill little flower baskets, leave them on people’s porches, ring their door bells and run.

  10. Pat says:

    What wonderful images. I find it hard to take photos of crowds – you did a great job. What a great party.

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks Pat, crowd scenes are fun but tricky because there’s always someone ready to walk right in front of your camera as you’re taking a shot. 🙂

  11. Looks like such a colorful and festive occasion! Beautiful photos, Ailsa!

  12. What fun! It reminds me of a Renaissance Fair I went to a thousand years ago. The flowers are so pretty. That ribbon dance must have been a hoot to watch.

  13. Praveena says:

    Each and every pictures are lovely,Alisa..Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. pamtanzey says:

    What a joyous day. Thank you for sharing your adventure! Beautiful photos!

  15. poppytump says:

    That Maypole dance was on a scale I haven’t seen before ! Fantastic .
    What a joyous way to bring in Spring … you’ve captured some lovely expressions there Ailsa 🙂

  16. Beachbums1 says:

    Great photos ~ so colorful. Happy Spring!

  17. dadirri7 says:

    how fantastic ailsa, a wonderful spring celebration!!

  18. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I used to maypole dance at infant school!

  19. suej says:

    Oh, what fun, takes me back to my schooldays!

  20. ledrakenoir says:

    Wonderful photos, so colorful so happy days… 🙂 😉

  21. Sangeeta says:

    Wow….riot of emotions and colour !! Reminds me of my days in Seattle and Bellevue

  22. I read that the celebration in Seattle turned violent. Hopefully this is not the one.

    • ailsapm says:

      It wasn’t anywhere near here, Dorothy, thankfully. There were a handful of troublemakers at the downtown rally that started kicking off. As far as I know, there were more reporters than rioters, the media usually blows things way out of proportion.

  23. unfortunately I thought it was still April 😦 I want a bike like that and might just make one!

  24. This looks incredibly fun!

  25. How wonderful! I wonder why we never do this here. This would seem more like a small town thing than a big city thing. Although the turnout is more certain. One day I would like to take part in such festivities (take part aka take pictures, haha)

  26. Colorful maypoles on display in your series. Nicely done. Did you find your backpack among the crowds?

    • ailsapm says:

      I thought I spotted it on the back of that flower-bedecked bike, but it turned out to be someone else’s. 😉

  27. markd60 says:

    Nice post! Good photos! Happy Summer!

  28. Pamela says:

    Shades of my Yorkshire childhood! How I loved May Day and the Maypole dancing, the games, the fete, the feasting. Good that these traditions continue throughout the world.
    Lovely post – I’m wallowing in nostalgia!.

  29. What a lovely way of celebrating! I have never seen such a Maypole with all those threads and weaving them together – interesting! Thank you for a most wonderful post!

  30. freedman121 says:

    When I was in elementary school I used to participate in the pole weaving – but I don’t remember anyone getting stuck in the middle! We used to rehearse for hours so that the ribbons wouldn’t get tangled. Must have been very frustrating for the teacher!

  31. Lynette says:

    Thanks for your positive post! I was out of town on May day this year and the news made it all sound like Seattle area people are crazy anarchists and violent people. I know they are a minority, but this post made me happy. Its great to see people celebrating and having fun and being NICE. (NW tradition!)

  32. viveka says:

    Have to love that bike …. Brilliant photos of a very fun and colorful festival. We put flowers in your hair on Midsummer. The photos with all the ribbons are excellent. Your so talent with your camera.

  33. awesome shots!! looks like it was fun!

  34. Loca Gringa says:

    Fabulous images and oh what fun!

  35. Loved to read about May Day in Seatle! Some traditions sound similar to those in the UK strangely enough. fab photos. Enjoyed reading all about it. great blog. Kath Luxton

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