The Normans may be long gone but Hastings is all set to welcome a colourful bank holiday invasion on Monday when thousands of bikers, Morris dancers and green men and women arriving to celebrate May Day in style.
The traditional Jack in the Green Festival on Monday coincides, as it has done for years, with the May Day Bike Run when up to 40,000 motorcycles are expected to roar into Hastings.
It has become one of the biggest motorcycle tourism events in the UK, attracting more bikes in a single day than the World Famous Isle of Man TT races do in a fortnight.
This year the organisers, bike1066, have teamed up with Swinton Insurance to make the welcome bigger and better than ever. Howard Martin of bike1066 says; “Working in partnership with Swinton has been fantastic with their team really helping put Hastings on the International biking map. We are expecting bikers from all over the country as well as Holland, Belgium and Germany.”
Bike1066 also work closely with Sussex Safer Road Partnership, Sussex Police, Hastings Borough Council and other agencies to make sure that Hastings on May Day is also one of the safest motorcycle events in the UK.
The Jack in the Green festivities start on Friday May 28 with music and dancing around the town all weekend, culminating in a vibrant procession through the streets of the Old Town to the West Hill on Monday May 1.
The procession will feature Morris dancers sweeps, green men, drummers and giants and will be led by the Jack - a dancing bush crowned with flowers. For full details of the event visit www.hastingsjitg.co.uk.
Morris dancers and spectators will get an early morning lift on Monday 1st May, as Hastings Borough Council will be opening the town’s West Hill Lift at 4.40am for the ‘dancing at dawn’ event.
Kevin Boorman, the council’s marketing manager, explained: “Morris dancers have ‘danced at dawn’ on May 1, on Ladies Parlour on the West Hill, for many years.
“This year, because May 1 coincides with the May Day bank holiday, we are expecting a lot more Morris dancers than usual and more spectators too.
“To show our support for the event, which starts around 5am, our West Hill lift will open at 4.40am, allowing those Morris dancers staying in the Old Town to have an easier journey up the hill.
“Morris dancers in Morris kit will travel free, spectators pay the usual fare.
“The West Hill lift is 126 years old, and is one of the oldest railways in the world still using its original carriages. Dancing at dawn as the sun rises on May 1 is an old tradition too, and we’re pleased to be able to open the lift early to allow Morris dancers to get to Ladies Parlour rather than climb the 100 plus steps to the top!”
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