Perhaps Helston's greatest claim to fame is the internationally famous festival of the Furry, or Flora Dance. This is held every year on May 8th unless that day falls on a Sunday or Monday, when it is held on the preceding Saturday.
You'll probably have to park outside the town and walk in. Thousands of visitors throng the streets all day and there's a carnival atmosphere from dawn to well into the night.
You'll find the town decked out with bluebells, gorse, laurel leaves and colourful flags. Dancing begins at 7.00 am, and at 8.30 there's the mummers'play known as the Hal-an-Tow, at several venues throughout the town. Watch St George and St Michael slay the Dragon and the Devil, cheered on by a crowd dressed in Lincoln green and Elizabethan robes.
The children of the town dance at 10.00 am, at midday there's the principal dance, with invited participants in top hats, tails and dress gowns; and a final dance at 5.00 pm. The dancers weave in and out of the shops, houses and gardens behind the Helston Band playing the famous Flora Dance tune.
The origins of the dance are certainly pre-Christian and are connected with ancient spring festivals all over Europe. Nowadays its ancient intention of ushering in prosperous harvests goes hand in hand with the splash of colour all over the town, the joyous music and high spirits of all involved
Dancers follow the Helston Town Band as they take part in the Early Morning Dance as part of Flora Day celebrations, in Helston, Cornwall
The Flora Dance, also known as the Furry Dance, is one of Britain's oldest customs still practised today and is said to be a celebration of the passing of winter and the arrival of spring
A series of dances take place throughout the day, beginning at 7am, winding all over the town and even in and out of private houses and shops.
The midday dance was traditionally the dance of the gentry in the town; this is why men still wear top hats and tails while the women dance in their finest dresses
The Helston Town Band prepares to lead dancers leaving the Corn Exchange
The Helston Town Band leads dancers through a private house as they take part in the Early Morning Dance
Dancers follow the Helston Town Band through a private residence
Hal-an-Tow is danced in several places around the town, and the participants have to run from one performance to the next
Dancers follow the Helston Town Band as they take part in the Early Morning Dance
People dance in the early morning light
Participants in the midday dance make their way through the town
People watch from windows as dancers take part in the Early Morning Dance
Pictures by Matt Cardy, stolen without permission from The Daily Telegraph
Here is a link to more pictures on the Guardian website:-