The largest crowd in six years packed the streets of Oxford today for one of the city's oldest and most treasured traditions.

Around 16,000 people stood side-by-side below Magdalen College's Great Tower to mark May Morning with the largest gathering the event has seen since 2017.

There were an estimated 3,500 more people in High Street and surrounding roads than for last year's event, according to Oxford City Council.

READ MORE: RECAP: Thousands descend on Oxford for May Morning

The bumper turnout coincided with the May Bank Holiday and crowds enjoyed a peaceful and colourful event, held just the second time since the Covid pandemic.

When the tower bells chimed at 6am, a hush fell on the crowd who stood cheek by jowl across Magdalen Bridge and the High Street.

Oxford Mail: The crowd stood cheek by jowl across Magdalene Bridge and the High Street for the 6am choral

In a tradition that stretches back more than 500 years, Magdalen College's choristers broke into song from on top of the tower

After they had sung traditional pieces, including the Hymnus Eucharisticus, the young choristers waved down to the crowd gathered below.

Revellers then visited pubs and cafes which had opened from 6.30am.

Many more enjoyed displays in Catte Street and Broad Street where Morris dancing sides performed traditional dances. Oxford City Morris Men dressed a traditional Jack-in-the-Green character, adorned with foliage.

Oxford Mail: Sharp and Blunt, an all female Morris dancing troupe from Adderbury, danced in Broad Street

Liz Halsey, 58, of Wolvercote Morris, said it had been the busiest year she had seen since first joining the celebration aged 12.

She said: "It's always been busy, but this year it seemed to be busier than ever. We had good weather, no one was worried about the lockdown that's been and gone, and it was just lovely."

READ MORE: John Otway surprised with 'special moment' at May Morning

It had been over 50 years since Sheila Cameron, 77, also of Wolvercote Morris, celebrated her first May Morning as a student at Oxford University.

Oxford Mail: Liz Halsey (left) and Sheila Cameron (right) of the Wolvercote Morris Dancers

She said: "Back then, there weren't so many people on the bridge and there was no amplification, so you actually had to listen and hear the choristers' real voices. You could hear it if you were close.

"The event is a combination of Oxford and tradition. When you're a student it's one thing but when you're grown up it's something else."

Keith Kirby 71, who first attended the event in 1971, walked around Broad Street with a traditional fertility cake which he offered to passers-by.

He said: "Somebody will do it each year. There is always a cake. It's just part of the tradition like Jack-in-the-Green and Morris dancing itself."

READ MORE: Choir sings from different tower on May Morning in 1976

Oxford Mail: Keith Kirby 71 walked around Broad Street with a traditional fertility cake

Alex Hitchman and partner Hannah Pollard, both 32, had used the branches of a quince tree that grows in their Botley Road garden to make green crowns.

Mr Hitchman said the event was important as it allowed everyone to feel part of the Oxford community.

He said: "When my mum was younger, she grew up in Didcot, and she felt like she never really was able to come to Oxford because it wasn't really for her as she was from a different town.

"But she always said that events like this meant that she felt she was able to come into Oxford and be excited and feel part of the community."

Oxford Mail: Alex Hitchman and partner Hannah Pollard from Botley Road with their green crowns

E-T Cresswell, 34, from Cowley, attended the celebrations in extravagant costume with her friends Emma Scandrett, 35, and Trevor Dean, 49,

She said: "I love the chaos of it. People driving around, Morris dancers in the street, the choirs singing off the tower. It's perfect."

Oxford Mail: Left to right, Friends Emma Scandrett, E-T Creswell, Trevor Dean all dressed in extravagant costume