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A Guide to May Day in Oxford
Image Credit: Danny Chapman

A Guide to May Day in Oxford

21 April 2017 | Edd Elliott

For those outside the Oxbridge axis, the last night of April will mean very little. For an Oxford local, however, it’s one of the most fun nights of the year – and the strangest morning to follow. If you are planning to stay up through the night you better have some events planned, and we are here to help. Here are some suggestions of how to spend your May Day in Oxford.

Evening Events
 
The typical route for staying up all night is drinking quite a lot of alcohol and finding some music to flail to – and who are we to quibble with such a winning formula? At the O2 Academy, house music hit-makers Bicep play a long set starting at 11pm, supported by Horse Mat Disco, Patrick Nazemi and more. The O2 is well known for having a wild atmosphere on May Day and this will definitely be busy – book tickets in advance. Just down the road is the cool younger brother venue The Bullingdon. They also have house-electronic on the bill supplied by Simple and Call Super as part of the regular Patchwork night.
 
If you are a fan of the grimy and the grotty, you’ve probably already discovered Oxford’s Cellar. They’re accustomed to being open til the early morning, and on May Day they have a Disco/House/Jungle set from Luv Jam and Ed Steele. Cellar is a bit of an acquired taste – but if it serves your flavour of dish, this is the place to see off April. Finally ATIK (aka Park End) has an expanded version of their usual Pounds In night. Selected drinks at £1.50 all night – if it’s a strain staying up til 6am, at least you won’t remember it.
 
O2 Academy Oxford
Photo Credit: Ed Webster.
 
Singing, Magdalen Bridge & Morris Dancing
 
Once the nightlife has died down and you are bleary-eyed, the (supposedly) main event gets going. The Magdalen College choir sing Hymnus Eucharisticus from their tower overlooking Magdalen Bridge from 6am. The yearly event always attracts huge crowds, so arrive early if you actually want to see the choristers. Following the hymns, the Magdalen bell tower rings out its own tune for twenty minutes, ushering in the new month.
 
Oxford city centre is traditionally swamped with Morris Dancers on May Day. Old men dressed in strange clothes doing an even stranger dance involving sticks and handkerchiefs – now that’s what we call a good time! Morris Dancers usually congregate on Magdalen Bridge, High Street, Broad Street and Cornmarket. There will also be peripheral Morris displays in Jericho and the outlying villages. Get jingling!
 
Morris Dancers on Broad Street
Photo Credit: Ed Webster
 
Morning Breakfasts
 
If you’ve stayed up all night, you deserve a hearty breakfast, and luckily the cafes, restaurants and pubs of Oxford have laid on an early morning spread. The best breakfasts available are delivered by The Turl Street Kitchen, who are offering a Full English or various fancier, smoked salmon filled dishes; Queen’s Lane Coffee House delivers continental, Greek or even Turkish breakfasts; or there’s The Buttery on Broad Street with its simple food and great views. These venues are open from midnight, 4am and 4.30am respectively.
 
There are some more adventurous options on offer as well. If you plan to keep drinking after May Day night, The Cape of Good Hope might be for you. They will be serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from 5am and you can hang on for their lunch menu of pub classics beginning later in the morning. Or maybe you fancy plugging that hangover hole with grease? Atomic Burger, recommended many times over by Culture Calling, are open from 6am and they will serve you one of the greatest burgers you’ve ever had in their own informal way. Ever wondered what toppings Chuck Norris would be if he were a burger? Atomic Burger will answer that question.
 

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