The Flagcrackers of Craven are almost as iconic as the landscape that surrounds them.

Unique in appearance, the morris dancers – who are drawn from all walks of life – black their faces (for anonymity, we understand) and sport decorated top hats.

This year, The Flagcrackers are celebrating their 25th anniversary, with special dance outs including colourful, stick clashing displays at various Craven locations such as Ribblehead and Malham Cove.

Their first outing will be on Easter Monday when they will perform around the canal basin, town hall and Victoria Square in Skipton.

Central to the festivities will be a Day of Dance in the town on Saturday, June 15, culminating in a massed gathering at the canal basin at around 3pm.

The team will be inviting some of their favourites along to showcase their skills at the event, which will feature every kind of morris dance style and even some belly dancers.

The Flagcrackers specialise in Border dance – so-called as it was originally danced in the Welsh border counties of Herefordshire, Worc-estershire and Shropshire.

The dances are energetic and noisy, involving clashes of sticks and shouting. This in itself draws the crowds, who appreciate this English tradition.

The earliest recorded dance is believed to have been performed at Hereford races in 1609.

The Flagcrackers’ ethos is to retain traditional dances and evolve new ones, with a generous dash of entertainment value for spectators.

Their shows may look relaxed and spontaneous, but they are actually thoroughly rehearsed.

They have a repertoire of many dances, of which around 12 are constantly practised and danced out in any given year. The quiet winter months are used to perfect stepping and sticking techniques and to develop new dances from scratch.

Over the years the team has practised at various venues around Skipton, from The Albion to Carleton Working Men’s Club. It now meets at the Farnhill Institute on Wednesdays from 8pm to 10pm and anyone interested in joining the team is welcome to go along.

For more information or to book The Flagcrackers, contact the Squire, Nigel Foster, on 01535 631282.