ABOUT 100,000 people are expected to attend Oxford’s annual two-day St Giles fair on Monday.

This year’s fair falls before many schools have reopened and as a result organisers expect huge numbers of visitors.

The September celebration has been running as a funfair since the late Victorian period, when technological advances brought in the modern fairground rides, but there has been an annual street fair at that location since at least the 1600s.

The festival began as a community feast, or wake, on the first Sunday after St Giles Day, the first of September.

This year, for the second time, the fair hosts one of the largest portable rides in Europe. Air is a colossal mechanical octopus which swings, spins and loops 30 riders 100ft over the fairground.

City council co-ordinator Mike Newman said: “This year we have tried to balance traditional fairground attractions such as the coconut shy, carousel and helter skelter with larger super rides, more Alton Towers than Carfax tower.

“We have got no end of stalls with games and contests, food stalls and childrens’ rides like dodgems.

“St Giles Fair is definitely something special to Oxford.”

In 1930, Wantage poet John Betjemen described it as “about the biggest fair in England.” He said: “The whole of St Giles, right up to and beyond the War Memorial, is thick with freak shows, roundabouts, cake-walks, the whip, and the witching waves.”

Technicians will begin setting the gigantic Air up at around midnight tonight.

Magdalen Street and St Giles will be closed, again from midnight tonight, through to approximately 6.30pm on Wednesday.

The event will also have an effect on public transport services. Buses on routes 2, 14, S4 and S5 will be unable to serve Keble Road and will travel through Broad Street instead of Magdalen Street.

Buses on routes S2 and S3 will be unable to serve the old Radcliffe Infirmary, and will instead go via Broad Street.

And buses on route 17 will be unable to serve Park End Street, Magdalen Street or George Street, running instead directly to Castle Street (17) or the Rail Station (17A/ 17C).