Ryburn Longsword

May Day Celebration1st May 2022, 5.30am

May Day was one of the major festivals of the Celts in Britain, representing the first day of summer and has been celebrated all over the country ever since.

Finally, after two years of lockdown, Ryburn Longsword danced together on May Day morning at 5.30 in the real world, rather than virtually, to bring up the sun at dawn on May 1st 2022.

And here we are! No obvious sun, but definitely some weather…

If you are interested in dancing with Ryburn Longsword, please contact Liz Cryer by email on ryburn3step@gmail.com or by phone 07908 142201

Return to practices

Ryburn Longsword will resume practising at 7.30 on Wednesday 2nd March 2022 in the upstairs room of Ripponden Community Centre.

If you want to have a go, this is the time to do it! None of us can remember the dances so we will all be starting from scratch. Please contact Liz Cryer by email on ryburn3step@gmail.com or by phone 07908 142 201

May Day was one of the major festivals of the ancient Celts in Britain, representing the first day of summer, and May Day has traditionally been celebrated all over the country ever since.

Each year the members of Ryburn Longsword have got out of bed early to ‘dance in’ the May at sunrise and then relocate to a team-member’s house for a communal breakfast. For the second year running, Government restrictions have banned our meeting up but that hasn’t stopped us getting up at 5.30 to view the dawn and meeting up for virtual breakfast by Zoom.

Let’s hope we can dance the sun up on May 1st 2022!

Mayday 2021

Mayday 2020

And – how it should be… Mayday 2019

Mayday morning 2019

Keep up to date with Ryburn Longsword on our Facebook page:


Longsword dance is a Yorkshire-based form of traditional dance performed by five, six or eight dancers dancing together in a circle, making a number of movements in which the dancers go over or under one of the swords. The dance normally ends with the production and display of a ‘lock’ where swords are intertwined in one of a variety of shapes.

Ryburn Longsword has been dancing since 1994. Some of our dances are traditional and come from villages across Yorkshire, others have been created by members of the group.


Members range in age from twelve to seventy, most of them living in the Ryburn Valley near Halifax in West Yorkshire. During each year we can be seen dancing on May morning, at local events such as Ripponden Village events, Todmorden Folk Festival, Littleborough Rushbearing and Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing, and at festivals and events further afield.

Sue Coe dancing with Ryburn Longsword at her EFDSS Gold Badge award on 16 November

If you would like to try Longsword dancing, please contact Sue Coe on 01422 822569.
Or email ryburnlongsword@gmail.com

We welcome dancers of all ages and abilities to our Wednesday evening practices which take place from 7.30pm to 9.00pm at 103 Oldham Road, Ripponden. We are very lucky to be able to dance to traditional live music for our practices, which are very friendly and informal.

The Ryburn Longsword Band. Photo: Bruce Fitzgerald

Our ultimate aim is to dance  with precision and style to public audiences, so dancers and musicians are encouraged to attend practice regularly.


Photo: Andy Day
Photo: Andy Day

Adult dancers wear a velvet surcoat or vest with applique panels showing scenes from the Ryburn Valley, which were originally designed and made by Chris Coe. Recently, new panels were created by Emma Smith, one of our dancers. The younger members wear velvet tabards whose backs show creatures found in the Ryburn valley. They were also designed by Chris in consultation with young people themselves. The beautiful colours of the velvet and satins combine to dramatic effect during the twists and turns of the dances, especially in sunlight.

More information about Ryburn Longsword activities can be found HERE.
And you can keep up to date on our Facebook page:

An Independent Folk Development Project in the Ryburn Valley