MARSDEN went `cuckoo' over the weekend as villagers celebrated the arrival of spring.

The annual Cuckoo Day festival started on Friday with a family walk around Marsden, a ceilidh at the Marsden Mechanics Hall and a folk music night at the Riverhead Brewery Tap pub.

On Saturday - Cuckoo Day itself - the sun shone as hundreds of people flocked to Marsden.

Julie Barton and Nick Hinchliffe travelled to the event from Bradford.

Julie said: "It is the first time we have been. It is nice to see traditions. I think it's great."

Nick, who grew up in Linthwaite, said: "This festival did not exist 20 years ago. It is interesting how villages seem to invent traditions. But if it brings tourists in I think it is good."

Outdoor entertainment included clog and morris dancing, maypole dancing, children's entertainers and rides at Wessen Court.

Marsden Junior Band and Marsden Silver Prize Band performed outside the Mechanics Hall.

Throngs of people relaxed by the river outside the Riverhead Brewery Tap, where the National Trust held plant stalls.

Indoor entertainment included craft fairs at the United Reform Church and St Bartholomew's Church Hall.

St Bartholomew's also hosted a mix of jazz, organ and instrumental music, plus performances from Mikron Junior Theatre and Marsden Junior Band.

At the Mechanics Hall, a community drumming workshop and refreshments were on offer.

Marsden Infants School hosted a fun event, with children's entertainer Simmo and a Cuckoo Day hat-making session.

For the older generation, there was a tea dance at Marsden Conservative Club and for all the family, there was a treasure hunt.

The highlights of the day were the duck race at Mellor Bridge at 4pm and the Cuckoo Day procession at 2.30pm.

Marsden Silver Prize Band led the procession through the village centre.

They were followed by circus clowns the Fiascos and cuckoo-themed wheelbarrow floats made by local people.

The Milltown Cloggies dancers followed and the Slubbing Billy clog dancers brought up the rear of the procession.

The festival ended yesterday with a special Cuckoo Day service at St Bartholomew's.

* Cuckoo Day is held to mark the start of spring.

* It is based on an old legend, which says that when the first cuckoo arrived in Marsden the villagers believed it would bring eternal spring. They built a wall around the bird to make it stay, but as the last stone was being placed, the cuckoo flew away.

* Cuckoo Day celebrations have been held in Marsden since 1993.

* Visitors from all over the UK now attend the annual event.