PREPARATIONS are under way for up to 100,000 revellers to enjoy Oxford’s St Giles’ Fair.
The fair – which will see St Giles closed to traffic for three days from midnight on Saturday will be officially opened by Lord Mayor Mohammed Abbasi on Monday.
And there are warnings that the historic two-day fair will bring in extra people on Monday when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are scheduled to arrive for a visit to the new China Centre at Oxford University’s St Hugh’s College.
The fair in 2012, when more than 60,000 people attended on the Monday, was the busiest in memory, according to Oxford City Council, due to good weather and the fact that youngsters were still on their summer holidays.
Mr Abbasi said: “I’m looking forward to opening the fair — it’s a great Oxford tradition.”
In 1930, Wantage poet laureate Sir John Betjeman described it as “about the biggest fair in England”.
St Giles, Magdalen Street East and West and other roads in the area will be closed from midnight on Saturday until 8.30am on Wednesday and diversions will be in place.
The main diversion route for through traffic in both directions will be Worcester Street, Walton Street, Kingston Road and St Margaret’s Road.
The city council’s fair coordinator Mike Newman said: “The big rides will be much the same as last year with Air returning and a new one called Star Flyer.”
Oxford Bus Company will divert buses from Sunday until Wednesday.
The City 2, 6 and park and ride 500 services out of Oxford will start from a temporary bus stop on Broad Street outside Blackwell’s bookstore, while inbound services will terminate in Broad Street. Those services, as well as the park and ride 300 service, will be diverted via Parks Road and St Margaret’s Road to avoid St Giles.
The park and ride 300 service will use stop B2 in George Street outside the New Theatre for passengers heading towards Pear Tree.The annual blessing service for St Giles’ Fair will take place at 5.30pm on Sundayin front of St John’s College.
ST GILES’ FAIR THROUGH THE AGES
St Giles’ fair dates back to 1625, when a parish festival to mark the feast of St Giles was created.
By the 18th century it had become a toy fair, while in the early 19th century it was a children’s fair.
Since the 19th century, the fair has been held on the Monday and Tuesday following the first Sunday after St Giles’ Day.
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