Oxford’s May Morning will be returning this year as an in-person live event after two years as an online event.
01 May falls on a Sunday this year, and many more people will be enjoying the visit to Magdalen Bridge to hear the choir sing, just as they have for centuries.
Oxford City Council wants to help create a special celebration for the city, remembering the days when the bridge was decorated to welcome the spring.
Artists from Oxford and its twinned cities will be commissioned, and competitions are being held in local communities to make artworks to be placed on Magdalen Bridge and surrounding areas.
The Council hopes the May Morning public art Crowdfunder campaign will raise enough to commission 30 pieces that will be displayed in Oxford on May Morning. Many of these will feature at other events in the city throughout the year.
Paula Redway, Culture and Community Development Manager at Oxford City Council, said: “We want this year’s event to be extra special, and we want to support Oxford’s artistic community.
“May Day is an occasion to lift the spirits and be joyful, so we’re raising funds to commission pieces showing Oxford’s hidden gems. They will then be displayed on Magdalen bridge for May Morning and also at future events.
“By donating anything from £5 upwards to the campaign, you will be able to claim one of several unique rewards. These range from specially designed badges and T-shirts to guided tours of Magdalen College or breakfast after the event.
“It’s a lovely way to be involved and a memento of the day itself.”
For more information on rewards and donations, please visit: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/oxford-may-morning
The origins of Oxford’s May Morning almost certainly date back to King Henry VII, who had a mass sung for his soul after his death in 1509.
After the Reformation, as these masses were abolished, the singing was moved to the College tower. The first written record of May Day celebrations comes from the 17th Century, referring to a historically long-held tradition.
The modern May Morning celebrations have been held annually from the top of Magdalen College Tower until the COVID pandemic of 2020 and 2021 when the event had to take place online due to the restrictions imposed on public activity.
In 2019, the last time the event was held in public, around 13,500 people attended.