Website celebrating May Day festivities in Oxford. Expanding all the time...

Listening to the choir at Magdalen Tower, May Morning 2018 (photo Tim Healey). Some 12,000 people are reckoned to have attended - a big turnout for a weekday. The giant crowds appear when May Morning falls on a weekend or Bank Holiday. A record 27,000 people attended in 2017.

Oxford folk legends Magpie Lane celebrate the season with a concert at the Holywell Music Room on Sunday 28 April 2019

May morning in Oxford is famous for the thousands who gather at 6am to hear a Latin hymn sung from the top of Magdalen College tower.

It is an extraordinary ceremony, but only one feature of Oxford tradition. Maytime revels take place all over the city, and were already controversial in Britain in 1250 when the Chancellor of Oxford University forbade ‘alike in churches, all dancing in masks or with disorderly noises, and all processions of men wearing wreaths and garlands made of leaves of trees or flowers or what not.’

This website honours both the historic celebrations and the joyous spontaneity of revels today. You will find photos, videos and any amount of abstruse information about maypoles and morris and much more besides.

Up the May!

The May Ox on Aristotle Bridge, May Morning 2011 (photo by courtesy of Linda Proud)

NEWSFLASH: Return of the May Ox

For about 20 years an ox bearing a maid decked with garlands used to appear on May Morning at Aristotle Bridge in North Oxford.  The effigy was created by the late Michael Black, the sculptor who restored the solemn, bearded Emperors' Heads outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Michael Black helped to create an alternative May Morning in North Oxford, inviting morris dancers to his home in Chalfont Road and furnishing them with a beery breakfast known as 'Black's Treat'. The nearby Anchor pub was a focus for their revels. Events declined in recent years due to the sculptor’s ill-health, and on St Valentine’s Day this year Michael Black died at the age of 90. One last appearance of the May Ox is scheduled for Aristotle Bridge on May Morning 2019. Celebrations are likely to last from 6-7.30am

NEWSFLASH: Revels for Sheela

The Sheela in St Michael at the Northgate. She once stood on the west wall of the Saxon Tower, arms akimbo, proudly displaying her womanhood.

A peaceful protest and celebration of the sacred feminine is planned for May Morning Oxford 2019. The focus is to be Cornmarket Street, where the Saxon tower at the Church of St Michael at the Northgate houses a rare and ancient Sheela-na-Gig. Frenetic and fabulous revels are promised; more details anon. Meanwhile visit:

www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16611554.appeal-for-help-to-celebrate-oxfords-sheela-na-gig/

On North Parade, May Day 2018 (photo Tim Healey)

Abingdon Traditional Morris at the Bridge of Sighs, May Morning 2017 (photo Tim Healey)

Sol Samba on the High Street, May Morning 2017 (photo Tim Healey)

This site is maintained by writer and broadcaster Tim Healey. Thanks to the many friends who have contributed material.

www.timhealey.co.uk

Email contact to right

Click on Menu above for events details, photo gallery, videos and pages on the historic background.

NOTE: May Day 2019 falls on a Wednesday

 

LINKS

Oxford City Council maintains a website devoted to May Day, with important notes on bus transport, road closures and parking.

See https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20035/events/559/may_morning_in_oxford  

Daily Information highlights concerts, gigs, and much more. See www.dailyinfo.co.uk/mayday 

Folk in Oxford offers a round-the-year survey of the traditional music scene and how to join in. See www.folkinoxford.co.uk