For Tolkien fans everywhere, the annual Oxonmoot is an absolute must.

Now in its 38th year, this three-day Tolkien fest is an opportunity to gather with like-minded people and enjoy a mix of fun and educational activities — which always includes a pilgrimage to Tolkien’s grave in Wolvercote Cemetery.

“Oxonmoot has become a time of fellowship, with people often coming from overseas to meet people they rarely see, or brand new people who share their interests,” says Helen Armstrong, the chairman of Oxonmoot.

The event is always held around September 22 to coincide with the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo, two of Tolkien’s most famous characters. This year’s Oxonmoot is at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, from September 21-23, and features discussions, panels, a quiz, an art exhibition and a party — and, of course, a special tribute to The Hobbit, to mark its 75th anniversary.

“We have a little surprise for attendees in honour of this momentous occasion,” says Helen. “People’s fingers have been worked to the bone to create a really good time, and I think some of those people will be taking a break and enjoying being on the audience side! There are plans for something involving cake to celebrate The Hobbit, which was published on September 21 1937. It was a popular book then, but I don’t think anyone knew how long it was going to last!”

From tiny beginnings, the Oxonmoot now attracts up to 200 people from all over the world. “When it began in the early 1970s, Oxonmoot was simply a meeting of friends in Oxford,” says Helen, who has been involved almost from the start. “The very new Tolkien Society was centred mainly in London, and the idea of a visit to the town where Tolkien lived, worked and wrote for most of his life was very attractive.

“When I first came to Oxonmoot, it was still based at the Welsh Pony in George Street, by the bus station. I think that is now the Eurobar. I stayed at the youth hostel in Jack Straw’s Lane — I think that has now moved too! We had to be back in by 10 o’clock and we walked — quite a hike!”

Past Oxonmoots have involved distinguished academics such as Tom Shippey, author of The Road to Middle-earth (Allen & Unwin, 1982) and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (Harper Collins, 2000), and Dimitra Fimi from Cardiff University, a specialist in fantasy and folklore in literature, as well as visits to Tolkien-related venues.

“In 2008 we had an extended moot at Christ Church , where parts of the Harry Potter movies were filmed,” recalls Helen.

“Such a beautiful, traditional hall, a lovely location and very professionally run.”

But Oxonmoot is not all about academia.

“There have definitely been lighter moments,” says Helen. “There was a spoof version of The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s posthumous epic which lies far back in the history of Middle-earth — a cast of thousands all played by four guys and two wigs. I seem to remember that a penguin was involved too, but I can’t remember why!”

For more information about Oxonmoot 2012, visit Booking closes on Monday, September 3.