In Pictures: Morris dancers kick off May Day celebrations

May Day celebrations across the UK have kicked off with Morris dancing, the singing of madrigals, maypoles and dips in the sea.

The traditional spring festival, also known as Beltane in Gaelic history, has its routes in ancient pagan festivals.

In Huddersfield, the raggedly dressed Thieving Magpie Morris Side did their Dance In The Dawn to mark Beltane.

Morris Men Dance in the Dawn
(Danny Lawson/PA)
Morris Men Dance in the Dawn
(Danny Lawson/PA)

Then the White Rose Morris Men waved handkerchiefs and sticks, with each Morris side having its own routines passed down over centuries.

Morris Men Dance in the Dawn
(Danny Lawson/PA)
Morris Men Dance in the Dawn
(Danny Lawson/PA)
Morris Men Dance in the Dawn
(Danny Lawson/PA)

In Birmingham, the Glorishears of Brummagem danced at sunrise on Barr Beacon.

May Day celebrations
(Aaron Chown/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Aaron Chown/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Aaron Chown/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Aaron Chown/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Aaron Chown/PA)

In Oxford, several Morris dancing sides entertained students and tourists alike.

May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)

While in past years, Oxford students have made a big event of jumping off Magdalen Bridge into the River Isis below, this year it was boarded up and they mostly stayed on dry land listening to the singing of madrigals from the tower of Magdalen College.

May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
May Day celebrations
(Steve Parsons/PA)
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