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A mix of traditional and modern celebrations for May Day in Oxford

Well just in case you haven't already realised, it's May the First today and events have been taking place right across the Meridian region.

May Day customs and traditions are steeped in history but are generally a celebration of springtime fertility.

Now, of course, it's an excuse for an early morning party, not least in Oxford where thousands of people gathered in the city at the break of dawn. Asana Greenstreet joined the fun.

Oxford welcomes in May Day

Thousands of students welcomed May Day today in Oxford Credit: PA Wire

More than 5,000 people gathered in Oxford to celebrate the beginning of Spring.

The first of May was marked with bells ringing over the historic city for approximately 20 minutes.

The crowd wore fancy dress costumes and masks, gathered in the street to hear the choir sing from the Magdalen Tower at 6am.

People in Oxford were stopped jumping off the city bridge Credit: PA Wire

Police barricaded the bridge in a bid to stop the university students taking part in the traditional bridge-jumping antics, which have caused many injuries.

A small number of revellers who did appear to consider jumping from the parapets of the centuries old bridge were foiled by security guards.

The choir wave after performing to a crowd in Oxford Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Leader of Oxford City Council, Bob Price said, "We have opened up the city for the last couple of years and people have respected this decision.

"Our aim is to continue to hold a successful event and to support and promote all the activities and events taking place across the city for the people of Oxford to enjoy together."

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Celebrating the coming of Spring... It's May Day!

Morris dancers in Radcliffe Square, Oxford last year celebrating May Day Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

May Day celebrations are being held across the region today with one of the most traditional in Oxford.

The choristers of Magdalen College began singing at 6am before the bells rang out across the city.

The Magdalen Bridge will be open to pedestrians and closed to traffic from 3am until 9am to enable everyone to enjoy the singing in comfort and safety.

The bridge will reopen to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.

Morris Men will also be dancing in Radcliffe Square, Catte Street and Broad Street, like last year.

Leader of Oxford City Council, Bob Price said, "We have opened up the city for the last couple of years and people have respected this decision.

"Our aim is to continue to hold a successful event and to support and promote all the activities and events taking place across the city for the people of Oxford to enjoy together."

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May Day meerkats maypole treat

Not to be outdone by all the celebrations marking May Day, the meerkats at an animal park in Kent have been getting in the act.

Keepers at the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, near Ashford, provided a May Day themed enrichment experience for them by placing a colourful May Pole in their enclosure.

Richard Barnes, Head of Large Carnivore section said: ‘Our meerkat mob is naturally curious and energetic – this May Pole feeder enables us to present them with an alternative way to get their favourite snacks whilst offering them a little bit of a challenge and something different.’

Bridge open for celebrations

This year Magdalen Bridge will be open to pedestrians and closed to traffic from 4.30am until 9am to enable everyone to enjoy the singing in comfort and safety. The bridge will re-open to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so between 8.30am and 9am.

Dancing will begin behind the University Church (off High Street by Radcliffe Camera) at about 6.15am and continue at various points in the city.

May Morning events and activities will take place across the city including Morris Men dancing in Radcliffe Square, Catte Street and Broad Street.

There are plenty of places open in Oxford to celebrate May Morning. For many years, Magdalen Bridge has been a focus of attention and we want to celebrate the whole city and everything that is traditional about May Morning. We are opening up the city so everyone can take part in the event together, in a safe and enjoyable environment. Last year we held a successful event and our aim this year is to support and promote all the activities and events taking place across the city for the people of Oxford to enjoy together."

– Ceri Gorton, Cultural Development Manager at Oxford City Council

Many bars and restaurants across the city will open for breakfasts including eateries in the city centre, Jericho and East Oxford.

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