Each year, over 100 morris sides [A morris side is a team of dancers. Generally dances have six or eight dancers in them. Often, there are more dancers in the side, with some resting while others carry on. Dancing can be quite demanding! ] and dance teams from all over the UK come together in Rochester for the Sweeps Festival , which takes place over the May Bank holiday and on May Day itself (if it falls separately from the weekend). The modern day festival is believed to be the biggest traditional May festival in England.
The Rochester Sweeps Festival of today was revived in 1980 from the May Day holiday which chimney sweeps of 300 years ago would have looked forward to and enjoyed. They celebrated their annual holiday on 1 May with a procession through the streets, accompanied by the Jack-in-the- Green . The Jack-in-the-Green, also known as the Green Man , is a seven foot character, representing the burgeoning forces of spring.The Modern Festival
There are three parts to the festival. It starts with the Jack-in-the-Green awakening ceremony on top of Bluebell Hill, followed by dancing and activities thoughout the weekend, and thenContinued page 2/3