One of the great things about Cornwall is the community spirit. Soaked in tradition and folklore, there are now countless celebrations and festivities taking place across Cornwall year-round. Whether you’re a local or on holiday, there’s always something to look out for and get involved in no matter your generation.
One such festival takes place on May Day across the villages of Millbrook, Cawsand and Kingsand in the Rame Peninsula and is well worth some attention. The historic Black Prince Flower Boat Procession is an annual event and traditionally took place to bid farewell to the winter cold and welcome spring sunshine – little wonder it’s so popular!
Originally named after Edward, the Black Prince who was to become the first Duke of Cornwall, the procession focuses on a flower-decorated boat that’s carried by ratings from HMS Raleigh. The boat, a model sailing boat, is carried through the streets shoulder-high and is accompanied along the way by dancing, music and children carrying flower baskets, garlands and small model boats.
Kicking off in Millbrook around 10am, the procession continues through Kingsand and finally reaches the shores of Cawsand Beach around 4pm, where the boat is then launched into the sea, banishing any wicked weather as it goes.
For those of you who want to suit and boot for the occasion, the dress code encourages traditional red and white colours topped with red cloaks and sashes. It must be stressed that this is not obligatory though, if you’d prefer to leave your red cloak at home this time.
Although the procession is now very popular, it actually died out about 50 years ago and was fortunately brought back in 1986. These days, the procession draws happy crowds and many of the cottages that line the route are decorated with flags and flowers too. If you’d like to read more about it, folklore expert Jan Gendall has written a book called Black Prince Flower Boat that can be bought at the festival, with proceeds going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Whether you’ve been to the area before or are experiencing it for the first time, the Black Prince Flower Procession is a great day for families, friends and visitors to the area keen to learn about local traditions and get involved. With the event also raising funds for local charities it’s a great day and a great cause all round, and hey, if there’s chance of more sunshine who wouldn’t want to try it?