WHILE most of us were tucked up in bed at 5am this morning, thousands of people in Oxford were gearing up for the return of a centuries-old tradition.

Crowds lined the medieval streets of the university city from the break of dawn as May Morning celebrations kicked off.

The tradition dates back more than 500 years and sees students and Oxford locals alike wake before sunrise celebrate the onset of spring. 

Scroll through the pictures above to see the party in full swing

Oxford Mail:

About 13,500 people fell silent on Oxford's iconic Magdalen Bridge as the Great Tower clock chimed in 6am, followed by the ethereal sound of choristers singing from the top of Oxford University's famous Magdalen College tower.

And then the party began...

Oxford Mail:

Pic: Richard Cave

Some of the more unusual costumes on display included flower crowns, straw hats and jingling bell bracelets, while some went a step further with more elaborate outfits.

Oxford Mail:

And this man came dressed as a tree.

Oxford City Council’s cultural development manager Paula Redway said: “May Morning is a uniquely Oxford tradition.

"It is one of the highlights of living in our beautiful city, and I am delighted that so many people were able to take part and enjoy it."