Thousands gather in Oxford to celebrate May morning - but where does the tradition come from?

WATCH: Mike Pearse joined the crowds in Oxford to welcome in May Day

Thousands of people have gathered in Oxford city centre to celebrate May Day morning.

The Coming of Spring celebrations at Magdalen College are a tradition that stretch back more than 500 years.

Crowds could be seen lining the High Street to listen to the choristers from Magdalen College Choir sing from the Great Tower.

They sung the Hymnus Eucharisticus which was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen College and has been sung every year on May Morning ever since.

The Great Tower's bells also ring out over the city.

Morris dancing and folk singing will take place in the streets too, to mark the significant date in the Pagan calendar.

Thousands of people turn up to listen to the choir. Credit: The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford

Where did it all come from?

The first May Morning celebrations are believed to have happened around 500 years ago to mark the completion of Magdalen Tower and the start of spring.

May Morning forms part of May Day which comes from Pagan traditions. The first May Day celebrations are thought to date back to Roman times when young people would celebrate spring's arrival with a day of dancing dedicated to the goddess Flora.

May 1st is celebrated in lots of other countries, for example, in Hawaii it is called 'Lei Day' and the date also coincides with International Workers' Day celebrations.

What happens in Oxford?

May Morning starts at 6am although many people start their celebrations the previous evening, partying through the night and into the morning.

Pubs and cafes open early to provide breakfast for the early morning revellers and there's music and dancing performances in the street.

Some students used to jump from Magdalen Bridge but the tradition is now banned because of previous incidents resulting in people being injured.

In 1997 one person was left paralysed and in 2005 ten were hospitalised from jumping off the bridge.