12,500 people attend Oxford’s May Morning celebrations

Published: Sunday, 1st May 2022

About 12,500 people turned out to see in May Morning in person today (May 1), for the first time since 2019.

The traditional celebration of the coming of Spring brought together Oxford's communities and people of all ages to enjoy dancing, singing and revelry.

The celebrations, which are more than 500 years old, started at 6am with Magdalen College choir singing Hymnus Eucharisticus from the college’s Great Tower.

A crowd of about 12,500 people, stretching from Long Wall Street to the Plain Roundabout, listened to the choir.

Traditional events and activities, including Morris Dancing and folk singing, then took place across the city as the bell of the Great Tower rang out.

The crowd management system first implemented in 2018, including one-way crowd flows on Magdalen Bridge, worked successfully.

“May Morning makes Oxford the envy of the world. It is a uniquely Oxford tradition and makes us proud to be Oxonians. It was so uplifting to see everyone back together again after the pandemic and we hope to see in many more May Mornings together in the future.”

Paula Redway, Oxford City Council’s Cultural Development Manager

The May Morning event at Magdalen Bridge is organised by Oxford City Council on behalf of partners, including Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Central Ambulance Service, Oxfordshire County Council and Magdalen College.

ODS supplied 5 or 6 vehicles to block off streets for security purposes from 4am – 8 am.

12 people and three sweepers were deployed by ODS from 4am this morning to ensure the city centre is kept clean throughout the day as the festivities and normal activities carry on.

“ODS’ Streetscene Team are pleased to see that, after two years of having a virtual May Morning celebration, this year it is back to normal with thousands of people planning to attend this popular event.

“Our team are helping to organise the clean-up of the event. We will have 12 staff with 3 sweepers starting at 4.00am to clear the city centre in readiness for the event. The team are looking forward to helping out at the event as they really enjoy the atmosphere that these busy mornings bring.”

Ian Thompson, ODS City Centre and Streetscene Operations Manager