Whilst morris dancing is popular all around the world, it is often associated with the Cotswolds and is steeped in history and tradition. Many sources believe that morris dancing dates back to the thirteenth century, though others would argue it has been around for even longer. Within the Cotswolds, many villages had adopted their own morris dancing routines and costumes by the 1880s (during the Victorian era) though these localised traditions have lost their prevalence in the area in more recent times, although that’s not to say you can’t find people still enjoying this pastime!
Notable Dates for Morris Dancing in the Cotswolds
A major event in the Cotswolds is the Oxford Folk Festival. This puts great importance on public participation and it is easy to join in with morris dancing activities as well as spectating. The centre point for the festival is the Old Fire Station in the heart of Oxfordshire. The venue is a cultural hub and certainly worth a visit if you are planning on a trip to Oxford town centre whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds region.
Getting Involved in the Morris Dancing Tradition
The Oxford Folk Festival is seeks volunteers each year for both general duties and for participating in morris dancing. The aim is to raise awareness of the traditional dance form and allow the public to try it out. Alternatively, you can become a “Friend of the Folk Weekend” by making a small donation which will no doubt help keep the local talent alive.
The Gloucestershire Morris Men welcome new members – both dancers and musicians. They assure newbies that previous dancing experience is not necessary, and that past members have been aged between 12 and 80! The group practises for one evening per week in a local school hall, a session which is followed by a social gathering in the nearby pub. If you are not local to the area then be sure to catch them performing by checking their performance timetable on the website.