This year’s May Morning celebrations will be held online – they will be live-streamed on Facebook and broadcast in part by the BBC. Following the government’s advice last month on mass gatherings, the annual May Day celebrations were cancelled in their 500-year old traditional form.
The virtual celebrations will begin with a pre-recorded performance of the Hymnus Eucharistus by Magdalen Choir, which will air on the Daily Info Facebook page from 6 am, the Magdalen College Choir’s Facebook page, and will be broadcast by BBC Oxford.
Other celebrations will include Morris dancing from Oxfordshire troupes, performances by local Oxford musician John Otway and a Welsh folk group, a spoons tutorial from Oxford University Morris, and a history of May Day from actor Tim Healey.
At 8 am, Oxford’s community street band, Horns of Plenty, will perform a rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, encouraging participants to join them in doing so while maintaining social distancing. Local musician Rufus Quickenden will then lead a May Morning singalong.
Magdalen College took to their Twitter page to share promotional videos ahead of Thursday’s event, including footage of choristers preparing separately for their recordings of the performance, which will be put together to resemble the sound of a choir singing in unison.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and the City Centre, said: “Despite the current coronavirus pandemic, we want to continue the tradition of May Morning celebrations in a safe online environment. May Morning is a unique event here in Oxford that many of us look forward to, and have attended over the years.
“We want to encourage everyone, old or young, whether this is your 50th May Morning celebration, or your first, to come and join in the fun and celebrate with us online. All we ask is that everyone follows social distancing measures and is safe during the celebrations.”
Jude Stratton, of Horns of Plenty, said: “On May Morning in Oxford we take to the streets to celebrate both the coming of spring and the creativity of the wonderful people of Oxford. The Horns of Plenty love that moment when the last notes from the choristers die away and the crowds flood up the High Street ready to dance as we play.
“In these strange times, we will keep the tradition alive by playing and singing from our gardens, doors and windows. Please join us at 8 am and the online celebrations before and after.”
The live-stream of the day’s events can be accessed via Daily Info‘s Facebook page. Oxford City Council is encouraging people to share May Morning celebrations via #MayMorning.