CORONAVIRUS! With restrictions on public gatherings, the traditional May Morning celebrations did not take place in Oxford this year.
However, Daily Information streamed a Virtual
May Morning from 6am. See https://www.facebook.com/DailyInfoOx/ and Oxford City Council encouraged residents to share memories, pictures
and videos using the hashtag #MayMorning
Magdalen College's Virtual May Morning can be seen on youtube at:
May Morning Oxford is an ever-changing celebration and there is no fixed programme. What follows is the general pattern of events...
5am: around this time, crowds start assembling on Magdalen Bridge.
6am: as the sun come up the Magdalen College choir sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower. After a brief service there are more short choral pieces. Then
bells ring out for some 20 minutes.
As soon as the choir finishes, there is a procession from the Bridge up the High Street to the city centre. Morris dancing begins around 6.20 am in
Radcliffe Square, and continues for nearly three hours at various locations including Broad Street, Catte Street, under the Bridge of Sighs, in front of St John's College on St Giles and on the forecourt of the Ashmolean Museum.
Around 6.20 am also, the tumultuous, green-themed Hurly Burly Whirly by God it's Early Band starts playing traditional dance tunes from the steps of the Clarendon Building on Broad Street. Expect bagpipes, fiddles, squeezeboxes, drums - and delirious
Meanwhile, Highland dance can be seen in Radcliffe Square, just outside All Souls, and others contribute in impromptu fashion to the revels. After the singing from Magdalen Tower, Horns of Plenty - Oxford's
community street band - entertains the crowds proceeding up the High Street. Also on the High, Brazilian rhythms come courtesy of Sol Samba, an exotic percussion and dance troupe who tend to hang back from the main parade so that their drumming does not overwhelm
the morris music.
And a Jack-in-the-Green can be seen in the city centre. He appears with the morris men gathered at Magdalen Bridge. After the Hymnus he proceeds up the High Street to feature in displays in Radcliffe Square, Broad Street - and at a
concluding rendition of 'Bonny Green Garters' outside St John's College on St Giles around 8.30am. For more on the Oxford 'Jack' see The Morris in Oxford.
Things quieten down for a bit around 9am as the massed morris retire for a private
breakfast at St Edmund's Hall. But they start up again around 10am as dancing resumes outside the Ashmolean Museum.
At noon, May Day celebrations continue at North Parade (see below).