Pixie Day - Midsummer Celebration in Ottery

Pixie Day is an old tradition that takes place in Ottery St. Mary each year. It's always the Saturday nearest to Midsummers Day on June 24th. It began in the form that we see it today in 1954 but its roots are much older with its beginnings in the 15th century.

The day commemorates the age-old legend of Ottery St Mary's infamous 'Pixies' being banished from the town (where they caused havoc) to the local caves know as 'Pixie's Parlour'. The story goes that they are remembering the time when they ruled in Ottery and they try to prevent the church bells from ringing.

Apparently, according to those who know these things, the noise of church bells ringing is something that really upsets the pixies. When the bells are rung they have to retreat to the Pixie’s Parlour.

The bells were first hung in St Mary’s Church in Ottery in 1454 when the bell known as St Mary was finally hung in the bell tower. The pixies then had to flee into exile and nothing more was heard of them for about 500 years.

Pixie Day was revived in 1954 and every year since then there is a plague of pixies in the town on the Saturday closest to the Midsummer. They try hard to capture and imprison the bell ringers but so far they haven’t succeeded. The jubilant bell ringers then go to the Land of Canaan to celebrate.

The celebrations begin in the early afternoon when a large fete opens on the Land of Canaan. In 2006 these include a coconut shy, tombola and skittles along with one or two new events. For example the Young Farmers are organising a game called "Lob the Loo" and also another called "Cow Pat Bingo" they are both new games so I’m not entirely sure exactly what they entail, but both of them sound highly unsavoury!

You can also enjoy displays of Morris dancing, a pet show. You can also watch the Devon and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service demonstrate their remarkable skills in removing a trapped casualty from a crashed car. The Fire Service plays an important part in Ottery life because of all the events in the town involving fire!

As evening approaches the celebrations focus on Ottery's town square. Hundreds of 'Pixies' (made up of local Cubs and Brownies dressed in pixie attire) capture the St. Mary's church bell ringers and drag them from the church to the square, where a re-enactment of the pixies' banishment takes place.

The Pixie Day evening climaxes back in the Land of Canaan where Ottery’s favourite entertainment in the form of a huge fireworks display takes place.

When you've been to Pixie Day join us for other events

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