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image for Children's Activity Event item typeShrove Tuesday Skipping Day at Scarborough South Bay

Children's Activity Event, Tue 28 Feb 2017

Skipping Day

Skipping Day


Experience the unique celebration of Shrove Tuesday in Scarborough, when the entire town turns out to skip – yes, you read that right, skip!

Young and old, skipping ropes flying, right along the seafront, which is closed to traffic for the afternoon. No one’s quite clear why it happens, but one thing’s for sure – you won’t see anything like it anywhere else!

The South Bay foreshore is crowded with people for the annual event. As long ago as 1853, townspeople gathered here to celebrate ‘Ball Day’ on Shrove Tuesday. It was one of the few public holidays when apprentices and servants could be sure of having at least half a day to enjoy themselves.

According to local folklore in 1903 "a few bairns were skipping near the lifeboat" but by 1927 in a national publicity campaign, it was acclaimed as ‘Scarborough’s Skipping Festival’.

By the end of the 19th century the South Foreshore on Shrove Tuesday was like a fairground.

A local publication of the time proclaims "Baskets and balls of various qualities and colours were prominent too and battledores and shuttlecocks were bought even by men and women. On this day grown up folks can skip and play without being thought childish. Everyone becomes something different from their usual selves on Shrove Tuesday."

In those days, of course, there were no real traffic problems. The Foreshore Road between the Spa and Eastborough is now closed to traffic during the afternoon of skipping. The fact remains that from mid-day onwards there are likely to be thousands of ‘young’ people of all ages enjoying themselves along the seafront.

The other custom, which is still retained at Scarborough, is the ringing of the Pancake Bell. Over a century ago, the bell used to hang in St Thomas’ Hospital, which was then on a site in North Street.

It was used as a curfew signal at 6am and 6pm, before the days of the BBC time signals. On Shrove Tuesday, however, it was rung at noon as a signal to housewives to start frying the traditional pancakes.

The bell was moved to the Rotunda Museum in 1861, where it continued to be rung for the next 50 years. When age made it unsafe, a ship’s bell, presented to the Rotunda in 1979 to mark its 150th anniversary, was put in its place. A new replica Pancake Bell now hangs on the corner of where Newborough meets North Street.

The only break in the tradition occurred during the war years of 1939-45 when bell ringing was prohibited. Now, it is always rung by the Mayor of the Borough of Scarborough to start the skipping and pancake festivities.

Baby changing facilitiesCash PointCoach parties acceptedGift shopOn-site cateringOn-site light refreshmentsPublic toiletsTelephone (public)Accepts groups

Event details

Dates Times
Tue 28 Feb 2017


Tourism Bureau

01723 383636


Foreshore Road,
North Yorkshire,
YO11 1PD



See location of Scarborough South Bay on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: TA 046887  Lat: 54.28322 Long: -0.39401

By Road:
Follow signs for Scarborough's South Bay.
From the South end of the bay you will come along Foreshore Road.
From Peasholm Park in the North Bay, go on seafront along Royal Albert Drive, Marine Drive and Sandside.

By Public transport:
There is a regular No.6 bus service from the town centre down to the West Pier in the South Bay (day time only). Current timetable at

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 0 miles from Scarborough station


  • Baby changing facilitiesBaby changing facilities
  • Cash PointCash Point
  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Gift shopGift shop
  • On-site cateringOn-site catering
  • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets
  • Telephone (public)Telephone (public)
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups