May Day Oxford

May Day Celebrations in Oxford


If you want to enjoy the spectacle of May Day in Oxford, be prepared to get up early. At 6am the choir sing from the top of Magdalen College tower, and people congregate on Magdalen Bridge to witness this ancient ritual.

If you want to join the throng on the bridge itself then you need to be there around 5am. But to be honest there is a better view from the High Street side of the tower, and whilst it's still crowded it isn't quite as bad.

Magdalen College Tower

Listening to the choir sing from Magdalen College Tower

Be prepared to stand cheek by jowl with around 5,000 other people; some up early to watch, and many more who haven't yet been to bed and have spent the night partying before arriving at the bridge. In fact I would be amazed if some of them really knew why they were there, they were so drunk!

Nevertheless, this year it was a safe and relaxed event with plenty of security to make sure people didn't jump into the River Thames from the bridge (a long time student ritual which has led to serious injuries in the past).

Wrap up warm (gloves and scarf are a good idea) and wear comfortable shoes as you will have to walk a fair way – at least a mile. Personally I wouldn't take a handbag as it would be so easy to lose it in the crowds.

There is entertainment everywhere; Morris dancers, folk bands, calypso and brass bands. The coffee shops and pubs are all open and breakfast is even more appetising when you have been up for hours and it's still only 7am.

This year we were blessed with a warm and sunny dawn and I can't think of a better thing to do on a Sunday morning. It really was a unique opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Oxford without the usual busy traffic.


May Day Video


Written by Helen



May Morning in Oxford, Oxford City Council