How to Build A Maypole

by Linda Donahue

Dancing around a maypole comes from an ancient Druid tradition. It welcomes spring in a festive, lively dance that weaves together colorful ribbons, much as nature weaves the land with colorful bands of flowers. The dance lives on today in many places around the world, but is perhaps most popular in Great Britain. Erecting a maypole (one intended to stand temporarily) is a relatively easy task, requiring little physical labor.

Select a pole. Maypoles can be of most any height. Generally, the more dancers under the maypole, the taller the pole. However, consider that taller poles should be stouter and will be harder to come by. You can find a suitable pole at places like Home Depot where you can buy pine Round Stock (1 7/16 inches wide) by the foot in the wall and trim section. It will carry 20-foot poles, but any length between 10 and 15 feet should easily suffice. For sturdier poles, you would need to go to the lumber department.

Dig a hole with the shovel. If you have a 10- or 11-foot pole, then dig a hole about a foot deep. If your pole is 12 to 15 feet tall, then dig your hole about two feet deep.

Cut the ribbon (or streamers) so that they will be nearly the length of the pole when the pole is planted. So if you have a 10-foot pole and bury the end a foot in the ground, you want your ribbons/streamers to be just under 9 feet long. This way, when dangling, they will not drag on the ground. Cut enough ribbons/streamers to have one per dancer.

Attach your ribbons or paper streamers atop the pole using either the staple gun or nails. Arrange the ribbons so they spread around the pole top and are not all lying in the same direction. Note: Many people use more than one color of ribbon (or streamer) so that as they wrap around the pole they make a lovely checkered pattern. If you use more than one color, alternate them as you spread them around the top in a circular fashion. Staple or nail the ribbons/streamers securely.

Plant the pole in the ground. Pack the earth so that it is good and hard. You do not want the pole being pulled down during the dance. Note: If you are setting up a permanent pole, you should use a stout pole (which you will have to get from a lumberyard) and then you would set the pole in concrete.


  • Some patio umbrella stands have a hole at the bottom. You could thread the maypole through the stand (and out the hole) before burying the end of the pole. You would need someone to hold the stand out of the way while burying the pole, but once you finished, and set the stand down, you would have some added stability.


  • Paper streamers will be more fragile and likely to tear during the dance. If you use paper streamers, you may want to caution the dancers to not pull while they are weaving in and out.

Items you will need

  • Pole Yards of ribbons or streamers Staple gun or hammer and small nails Shovel

About the Author

I teach belly dance classes and perform with a dance troupe. I also teach tai chi classes. I practice empty hand forms as well as weapon forms and have competed in tai chi competitions, earning a gold and three silver medals. I have also judged at tai chi tournaments. As an Air Force Brat, I grew up traveling and have lived overseas in Okinawa. I taught AP and IB computer science for 18 years and designed a CS III course that was the first (and to my knowledge) the only CS III course to receive Texas State accreditation.

Photo Credits

  • electric pole image by Eric Isselée from