First recorded as a parish wake in 1624, St Giles' Fair in Oxford has been a vibrant annual pleasure fair since Victorian times. One of the most prestigious in the country, it is held after St Giles' Day every September.

By Richard Lofthouse

Held annually on the Monday and Tuesday following St Giles Day, the St Giles Fair is a legendary Oxford event that almost no student has attended, the event falling in the last weeks of the Long Vac.

A decidedly muscular fair with seriously large rides that tower above famous sites such as The Eagle and Child pub and St John's and Balliol Colleges, and St Benet's Hall and Blackfriars, it has long been a primarily Town rather than Gown occasion.

The colourful rides offer a new aesthetic through which to see the rest of the thoroughfare, which spans from St Giles Church to the north all the way down to the church of St Mary Magdalen, and the start of Cornmarket Street.

Images © Richard Lofthouse


By Jonathan Cooper

I discovered the St Giles fair by accident as a part II chemist in 1995 and thus back at college in early September. One morning my curtains were opened to find a fully formed funfair just feet from my SJC North Quad window.

A few of us chemists went that evening - all I can remember apart from a very typical (if large) funfair such as I had seen many times before was a "guess your age" stall where a wizened old man with a strong local accent parted gullible customers from their money with a promise to guess their age within a year. (Answer presumably "you were born yesterday mate"...)

It disappeared as if by magic overnight as quickly as it appeared!