Today is Tynwald Day, the Isle of Man’s national day. We had a lovely family afternoon wandering round the fete, which had everything I expected but also some little surprises.
What is Tynwald Day?
Tynwald is the name of the Manx government and is the oldest continuously running government in the world. On 5th July each year – or the nearest weekday if it falls at the weekend – Tynwald sits outside at the site of the 1000 year old government on Tynwald Hill.
Members of the public are able to attend in the seated grandstand alongside the hill and an ancient tradition allows them to put forward any petitions for changes in law to the MHKs (Members of the House of Keys a the equivalent of the UK’s MPs). There is a procession as the Governor – the Queen’s representative in the Isle of Man who oversees proceedings in the absence of a member of the Royal Family – arrives, followed by a short church service. The dignitaries then make their way to the hill where they sit and all the laws that were passed in the previous year are read out first in English, then in Manx.
As well as the traditional ceremony, there is a fete with stalls, food outlets, bouncy castles, live music and performances.
What did we do?
We wandered around the stalls, which were selling some beautiful local hand-made products, food and raising awareness of local charities.
As we passed by the main tent we saw some local children doing a street dance performance, which was very well received with a good audience. There would then be live music throughout the evening to close the festivities.
The highlight of the day, though, had to be the Viking Village that had been set up in the Cooill y Ree gardens.
As we walked down the steps we could see tents appearing through the trees. They contained people in Viking dress showing traditions such as making clothes, cooking over an open fire and metal forging.
There were areas where children could dress up in Viking clothes, weapon display performances and talks about Viking ways of life.
Is it worth a visit?
Yes. It is a wonderful day to learn about Manx history, customs and traditions close up; is very rare to be able to see an ancient ceremony in person. The stalls and performances are definitely worth looking round and the Viking Village was a really interesting experience.
I’m looking forward to taking the boy next year so he can start learning about the island’s incredible history.