People in costume outside of Rochester Castle for the Sweeps Festival.

This much loved free festival, now in it's 42nd year, will take place from Saturday 4 May to Monday 6 May 2024 between 10am and 6pm.

The Rochester Sweeps Festival, International Festival of Folk Music and Dance has become one of the largest May Day celebrations of its kind in the world.

For 3 days, historic Rochester is transformed into a riot of colour and sound with the best folk musicians and bands, with hundreds of Morris dancers from across the country clattering their clogs and clashing their sticks up and down the high street. The festival also hosts a dynamic programme of international dance groups and workshops.

Saturday offers the largest gathering of Morris dance groups performing throughout the high street. On Sunday the festival showcases Morris and international folk dance and music, and on Monday the festival celebrates the great May Day traditions with Jack in the Green Parade.

Woman serving customer on food stall
Man in Sweeps Festival costume.
Boy playing a green piano

History of Sweeps Festival

In Victorian times chimney sweeps only had one day off a year and it was on 1 May. 

In Rochester the chimney sweeps would parade down the high street dancing and singing.