May Day Celebrations
We live just 40 minutes from Oxford and I don't think any town does May Day better ! Many colleges hold balls and other people stay up all night so they can be at Magdalen Bridge for 6am. They do this so they can hear the Magdalen College choir sing the 7 minute long Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower just as the sun comes up. Then all the bells in the tower are rung for about 20 minutes to welcome in May Day.
You need to find a spot on the bridge around 5am if you want to be close enough to hear the choir. The bridge and the roads around it are officially closed between 3am and 9am to allow this special event to happen, so even officialdom takes it all very seriously ! They also pass out messages of friendship to people on the bridge during the celebrations. People often wear hats and costumes decorated with flowers and it is a lovely spectacle.
By around 6.15am it is time for the Morris dancing, with troupes of Morris men processing down the High Street and dancing in Radcliffe Square. The dancing goes on for the rest of the morning, interrupted by breakfast, as all the local pubs open at 6am.
All over the town there is plenty of music and dancing until finally people are too tired to continue and it all quietens down in the afternoon.
Best of all, it's all free, so if you ever find yourself in a position to go, do try it out as it is definitely something totally unique !