May activities in Dorset
Hooray – it’s May!
May Day celebrations begin a month of festivals, shows and fun-filled occasions. It’s a time of year when communities congregate in city halls, village greens and town squares to mark the longer days and revel in the best of the season.
Although May Day falls on the first day of the month, the traditional celebrations and festivities happen at any point during the first weekend of May.
This timely celebratory occasion was chosen as it marked the date when most of the ‘seed sowing’ had been completed, making it a convenient time to give farm labourers a day off from their duties.
Interestingly, taking off the first Monday of the month as a Bank Holiday only started back in 1978. As the May Day festivities, had been enjoyed by many communities throughout the centuries, the Labour Government at the time decided to mark the occasion, by granting the first Monday in May as a Bank Holiday, giving families a day off from work and school.
Over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, many towns and villages celebrate with communal fetes, traditional festivals and shows.
Often, the celebrations are quirky affairs featuring Morris dancing, Maypole dancing and novel processions displaying unique characters to the town where they are taking place. Streets and parks are often dressed in bright flags, flowers and greenery, and live music from town bands, teams of drummers or accordion players, all contribute to a lively, convivial atmosphere.
A key part of the May Day celebrations is the maypole, which is placed at the hub of the action, bringing the community together.
Local primary school children often participate in the Maypole dancing, which involves a fun dance using coloured ribbons that are eventually woven into a pretty pattern around the pole.
Pairs of boys and girls, positioned at the base of the pole, and holding the end of a ribbon, weave in and around each other, with the boys going one way and girls going the other.
Aside from May Day celebrations there are plenty of other activities for families to enjoy throughout the month – here are some of the best…
Blandford Georgian Fayre
From 10am to 5pm
Blandford, Blandford, DT11 7AH
With Scotty’s circus workshop, a music zone, a model armour display, a classic car show, a huge street fayre and market, traditional fairground entertainers and plenty of music to enjoy. The whole town will be closed off for the fayre.
Bee and Butterfly Bonanza
Town Meadow, Gillingham, SP8
With interesting stalls to browse, activities for all ages and a programme of short talks on bees, butterflies and wildlife gardening. Take home a 'Happy Hornet', make a butterfly mobile, and plant a pollinator pot. Call 01305 264620.
Orienteering at Moors Valley
Moors Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath, Ringwood, BH24 2ET
A comprehensive introduction to orienteering including how to set the map, read keys and follow a short course. For ages 10 years+. Cost: £2.50 per person. Call 01425 470721.
Crealy’s Biggest Sleepover
Crealy Adventure Park and Resort, Sidmouth Road, Near Exeter, EX5 1DR
To 14 May. Brownies, cubs, scouts or any other uniformed group can enjoy an entertaining two-night camping trip. Includes two days’ entry into the Theme Park, evening entertainment, a buffet meal and an exclusive animal barn tour. Call 01395 233200.
Exciting new additions unveiled at Lemur Landings
After a winter of improvements, new installations and redecoration Lemur Landings has been transformed in to a fantastic new play environment for families to enjoy. With a suite of brand new party rooms; a dedicated climbing zone with Sky Tykes low ropes course, 5m time trial climbing walls and fun and interactive Digiwall. There’s an exciting new play frame for younger visitors, an extensive role play village called Leweyville and a sensory room for babies and those taking their first steps. There’s never been a better time to play at Lemur Landings. For full details visit www.lemurlandings.co.uk
Spring at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park
Hop along and join in all the Easter activities and discover what is new at the Dorset Heavy Horse Park this spring. Children can join in a tour starting at the new "Canal" display where they can collect feed buckets and help hand them out on 'Market Street' discovering which horses delivered what goods including; coal, milk, fruit and veg and more.
They can also join in the new 'Farmer’s Garden Tour' - digging, pulling and planting and finding out where food comes from. Of course, all the usual attractions will be on offer, including engaging shows and the Heavy Horse Carriage and Tractor Trailer rides.
There are exciting play areas for tots to teens, go-carts, vintage fairground rides, friendly farm animals, pony rides, exhibits from days gone by including the new Heavy Horse to Heavy Haulage display enlightening the vintage era. For details visit www.dorset-heavy-horse-centre.co.uk or call 01202 824040.
Gangsta Granny goes to the Lighthouse
David Walliams’ most popular children’s book, Gangsta Granny, will be on stage at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts from Wednesday 24 to Sunday 28 May. This award-nominated show will be heading to the West End, so this is your chance to see it first!
The story is about a young lad called Ben, who is not looking forward to spending his Friday night with his Granny, as he thinks it will be so boring. But Granny has a secret and Ben is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta! For tickets and information call 01202 280000 or visit www.lighthousepoole.co.uk
Paintbrushes at the ready at Poole Pottery
Paintbrushes at the ready! Be inspired by the bright colours of spring and let your child’s artistic talents take hold at the Paint a Pot studio at Poole Pottery. The choice of ceramic items to paint is vast, from plates to mugs, from money boxes to figurines, and from vases to ornaments. Prices start from just £7 – and further savings can be made – just look for the voucher in this issue of Primary Times to make a saving of 20%. Items will be glazed and fired in the Poole Pottery kilns, ready for collection a few days later. Call 01202 668681 or visit www.poolepottery.co.uk
Fun in the fresh air at Farmer Palmer’s
Escape into the fresh air this spring at Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park and help unleash your child’s mind and energy with play, hands-on activities, cute animals, learning experiences and real adventure - all day!
Farmer Palmer’s understands that family is not just important - it is everything! So, the friendly folk at the farm park have created and evolved their facilities in a fashion that enables families to spend quality time together. Their Annual Pass rewards savvy parents who want to squeeze a little more out of life, invest in the future, and save money. Take a look at their website for details about the annual pass. Find Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park at Wareham Rd, Organford, Poole, BH16 6EU. For details call 01202 622022 or visit www.farmerpalmers.co.uk
Discover the delights of Pamphill Dairy this spring
Pamphill Dairy in Wimborne is one of the best spots in Dorset to see the bluebells and make the most of the outdoors this spring. Ideally positioned by a large field near the cricket pavilion, children have the freedom to play games and ride their bikes. The Pamphill Dairy Parlour Café has a charming country style feel and caters for both inside and outside dining. The outside picnic tables overlook the large grass field and children’s play area. Plus, there’s a butchery and farm shop on site. For details visit www.pamphilldairy.co.uk or call 01202 857131.
Pitch up for the Big Wild Sleepout at RSPB Arne
On Friday 2 June and then on Friday 4 August, spend the night on the fantastic RSPB Arne reserve in Dorset, as part of the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout. Take your own tent to the reserve and pitch up in an idyllic camping spot in an area of the reserve that is not usually open to the public. The event runs from 5pm to 10am and includes a guided walk and a meal cooked over the fire. For more information and prices contact email@example.com or visit www.rspb.org.uk/arne
The Blue Pool - Purbeck’s unique beauty spot
Located between Wareham and Corfe Castle, the Blue Pool is an oasis of peace and beauty. Once a clay pit, the Pool changes colour constantly as tiny particles of clay filter through the waters - sometimes green, sometimes turquoise - depending upon the diffraction of the light. Steps lead down to the water’s edge and up to views of the Purbeck Hills.
Children love the Blue Pool. The setting gives them the freedom to run around and discover secret places, in a safe and secure environment. There are three play areas, a marked trail to explore and plentiful opportunities to hunt for model squirrels hidden in the trees. Certificates are given out in the Museum for all squirrel hunters. Find the Blue Pool near Wareham (BH20 5AR). Discover more at www.bluepooltearooms.co.uk