Thousands are set to gather in Oxford to celebrate the popular traditional event May Morning.

Dating back over five centuries, the unique Oxford tradition will return next week on Wednesday, May 1.

It will see crowds along High Street and Magdalen Bridge for the 6am choral welcome for the coming of spring.

Choristers from Magdalen College School will sing traditional pieces including the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of Magdalen College’s Great Tower.

Written in the 17th century by a fellow of Magdalen College, Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century and has been sung every year on May Morning ever since.

The bells of the Great Tower then ring out over the city for approximately 20 minutes.

Celebrations will continue across Oxford with dances, music, food and entertainment available, including Morris dancing and folk singing.

As part of the celebrations, a number of cafes and pubs will open early from 6.30am.

A crowd management system will provide one-way channels on Magdalen Bridge to enable the crowd to flow during and immediately after the event.

People will not be allowed to stop in the channels, and stewards and signs will be in place to direct people to areas where they can stop and view the event.

Those wishing to move through or leave the event space will need to keep left.

Designated viewing areas for wheelchair users, families with young children and those with buggies will also be available again, in the car park of Magdalen College School and in Rose Lane.

If capacity is reached on Magdalen Bridge, stewards and barriers will be used to stop any more people from accessing the bridge from the west and east.

Bicycles including those ridden and pushed will again not be allowed to cross Magdalen Bridge immediately before or during the event.

A road closure will be in place from The Plain to the top of the High Street from 2am until around 9am on Monday 1 May.

Diversions and alternative cycling routes will be signposted. 

Paula Redway, Oxford City Council’s culture and community development manager, said: “May Day is a brilliant and uniquely Oxford experience.

"The event really brings people of all ages and backgrounds in the city together, with students, families and visitors alike all up early to partake in this much-loved tradition to celebrate the arrival of spring together.

"To keep it enjoyable for everyone, we are asking people once again to follow the instructions from stewards, keep to the pedestrian channels, and use the buggy and wheelchair areas if needed.

"If you are travelling through the city please be aware of the road closure and alternative routes for both cars and bicycles.”

Oxford City Council organises the May Morning event at Magdalen Bridge on behalf of partners, including Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Central Ambulance Service, Oxfordshire County Council and Magdalen College.