Thousands in Oxford for May morning celebrations

Magdalen College

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Crowds gathered in the early hours below the Great Tower, Magdalen College

Thousands of people gathered in the centre of Oxford for the city’s traditional May morning celebration.

The annual event, which has been taking place for centuries, sees crowds congregate outside Magdalen College at 06:00 BST.

Choristers sang from the Great Tower of the college before bells rang out across the city for about 20 minutes.

Oxford City Council said about 12,000 people attended and a new crowd management worked successfully.

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Media captionWhat is Oxford’s May Morning?

Many believe the origins of the May morning celebration date from around 1505 when the Great Tower at Magdalen College was completed and the college chose to sing in the spring.

The event has been taking place each year in its current form since the 17th Century when Hymnus Eucharisticus – the song sung by the choir – was written by the Benjamin Rogers.

As the bells of the Great Tower ring, the tower itself sways up to 4in (10cm) at the top.

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The Magdalen College Choir sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of the Great Tower, Magdalen College as the sun rises

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Morris men parade through the streets

The May morning celebration also includes Morris dancing and folk singing in Radcliffe Square, Catte Street and Broad Street.

Many students choose to stay up all night prior to the celebration and numerous pubs, cafes, and restaurants open early to provide breakfast and refreshments for revellers.

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Folk dancers entertained the crowds

The new crowd management system, with one-way channels to let crowds to pass across Magdalen Bridge, was put in place this year.

It was introduced by the council after a number of people were blocked in as they tried to leave the event in 2017, when a record-breaking 27,000 people attended.

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Other costumes included this tree

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