THOUSANDS flocked to the fun of the fair today as Oxford's oldest annual attraction returned.

The nearly 400-year-old St Giles Fair laced the famous city street with haunted houses, dodgem cars other rides, while traders set up camp for the two days ready to tempt taste buds with sweet treats, loaded chips and veggie feasts.

Among the new additions to the fiesta this year – and following the introduction of a prosecco bar at last year’s fete – is a red double-decker bus bar in front of the Lamb and Flag.

However the bus has caused some confusion to punters, who thought the pub must be running it as part of the festivities.

Staff said the new venture on their doorstep was not good for business and also asked if it was appropriate that alcohol was now being sold at a fair traditionally aimed at families.

One member of staff who asked not be named told the Oxford Mail: “Somebody was complaining to us, he thought it was our bus.”

St Giles Fair, one of the oldest in England, dates back to 1625 when it was a parish festival to celebrate the feast of the patron saint St Giles.

By the 18th century it had become a toy fair and eventually evolved, in the late of the 1800s, to be more like the event which has become a city institution, with a mixture of mechanical rides and side stalls.

Bob Gooden, who has been selling balloons at the fair for 70 years said: “It’s just tradition.

“Everybody comes, I sell balloons every year.

“The rides have got a bit more upmarket but it’s very similar, that’s why everybody comes, it’s traditional that’s what brings people back.”

Others who have been regulars for years include Sonia Adams, who went to the fair today with her grandchildren Mya and Connor.

She said: “We’ve been coming back for years, we really like it.”

She added that, as the school holidays were drawing to a close, the fair was something the children had been looking forward to as a 'last hurrah'.

Jim Morris, owner of Jimbob’s Baguettes on Magdalen Street, was today selling ice cream outside his store and said that he thought the reason the fair had remained so successful over the centuries was because it was not in a field or park but on the city streets.

He said: “It’s always lots of fun, lots of people.

“It’s nice and local: everybody loves a fair and this one is in the city centre.”

Oxford City Council's board member for culture and and the city centre Mary Clarkson said: “St Giles’ Fair is one of the great Oxford traditions.

“It has always moved with the times and I am sure that as usual it will provide a fun occasion for all."