EXACTLY 150 years ago today, Oxford don Lewis Carroll took little Alice Liddell for a picnic and began telling her a wonderful story about talking animals, mad queens and magical potions.
His story, which became the classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, will be celebrated across the city this weekend.
The annual Alice’s Day aims to be bigger than ever before, culminating in a madcap Caucus Race on Sunday, featuring hundreds of revellers at Merton Field.
It will see people coming together to dance and sing on the field – part of Christ Church college, joined by schools – community groups and performers Cirque De Bijou.
Events have been coordinated by the Oxford Story Museum.
Co-director Tish Francis said: “It is going to be wonderful, holding the race on a field overlooked by the windows of Christ Church, where Alice Liddell would have sat and looked out.
“We have got singers, dancers, circus performers. In the words of the Dodo, the best way to explain it is just to do it.”
The Caucus Race, in the third chapter of the classic novel, saw animals running in circles in a race with no winner.
He eventually wrote them down and they were published in 1865, becoming loved across the world.
Ms Francis said: “Hopefully it is going to be a wonderful day with hundreds and thousands of people from Oxford coming along to join in.
“We even have the steps and words to a few of the songs on our website, so people can get a head start.”
Events are also taking place across Oxford to mark the occasion on Saturday.
A special flotilla on the River Thames will sail from Christ Church college to Godstow, celebrating the original boat trip when Lewis Carroll told his story.
It leaves the college at 12.30pm and departs Folly Bridge at 2pm for the second leg.
Other events include quizzes, exhibitions and giant chess at Oxford Castle.
Ms Francis added: “We wanted to mark the 150th anniversary of the first telling of this wonderful story with something that was bigger than ever before.
“We hope people come along and get involved.”
The Caucus Race runs from 2pm until 5pm on Sunday.