This ancient festival is usually held on May 8th , unless that date falls on a Sunday or Monday, in which case the previous Saturday is taken. It is a Spring festival to celebrate the end of winter and mark the arrival of the new vitality and fertility with the trees and flowers bursting into life. The houses and shops of the town are decorated with greenery and floral arrangements to express the spirit of renewal.
When the big bass drum strikes the first beat of the dance at seven in the morning, the spirit of the day is stirred and the celebrations commence. Some eighty couples dance through the streets, entering selected houses and shops to drive out the darkness of winter and bring in the light of spring.
The colourful Pageant, known as Hal an Tow, tells the history of Helston with the participating characters singing about the challenge of the Spanish Armada, the English patron saint, St. George and the fight between St Michael and the devil.