St Giles Fair - one of Oxford's most historic annual events - has been cancelled because of the coronavirus.

The city council has confirmed the fair will not go ahead this year as planned on Monday, September 7 and Tuesday, September 8.

With thousands of people attending it would be impossible to guarantee safe social distancing.

Oxford Mail:

The news will disappoint thrill seekers who gather every year for the colourful stalls and nerve-wracking rides.

READ AGAIN: St Giles Fair unlikely to go ahead

Last month the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain said it was still possible the fair could go ahead.

Joey Noyce, a representative of the London and Home Counties section of the guild, said last month: "It is possible it could go ahead, but if the guidance stays the same, it won’t. It is not something I would like to say either yes or no at the moment.

Now a decision has been taken to cancel this year's fair.

The London & Home Counties Section of the Showmen’s Guild and Oxford City Council said in a joint statement: "It is with great regret that the London & Home Counties Section of the Showmen’s Guild, in conjunction with Oxford City Council, has to announce that, unfortunately, the St Giles Fair 2020 will not be able to go ahead this year and has subsequently been cancelled.

Oxford Mail:

"With the UK still in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, especially given that the fair attracts large crowds, it is felt that the risk to the public’s health and wellbeing is far too high for the event to go ahead.

"The Showmen’s Guild would like to thank Oxford City Council for their assistance and understanding throughout the planning process.

"We are now looking forward to presenting the St Giles Fair in 2021 in the hope that it will be bigger and even better next year."

Oxford Mail:

The fair is held on the Monday and Tuesday following the first Sunday after St Giles' Day (September 1).The fair dates back to 1625 when it was a parish festival to celebrate the feast of the patron saint, St Giles.

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In the 18th century it was a toy fair, then in the early 19th century it was a general children’s fair. 

The funfair grew during mid and late Victorian times.

Oxford Mail:

Mary Clarkson

Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for the City Centre, Covered Market and Culture at Oxford City Council said: “This is disappointing news, but we fully support the Showmen’s Guild in their decision.

"Public safety in this pandemic is the most important consideration. The Showmen’s Guild have been working hard with government advisers on what’s possible and have had to take a very tough decision.

"St Giles Fair has been a fixture in Oxford’s calendar for centuries, we will look forward to next year with even more anticipation than usual."