Sunday, July 6: BEASTS will bring Banbury to life this weekend as the Town Mayor's Sunday and Hobby Horse Festival get under way.
Weird and wonderful animals of all descriptions are expected to take over the town when Banbury makes this year's event the biggest celebration of its town charter 400th anniversary.
A procession will leave Banbury Town Hall at 12.20pm led by the Lord Robartes' Regiment of Foote from the Sealed Knot and will also include the Air Training Corps band, a full Civic procession and Hobby Horse beasts and Morris Teams.
All residents are invited to join town councillors as they make their commitment to the people of Banbury at St. Mary's Church during the Civic Service, which will start at 12.45pm.
The free afternoon in People's Park will have a Jacobean flavour with traditional activities and a chance to see a Jacobean Moneyer producing coins of the period, a Barber Surgeon, Jacobean Dyer, Cartographer, Leather maker and Candle maker.
The day will also include special Jacobean activities for children, including making Witch Pots and Plaster Gargoyles.
Lord Robartes Regiment of Foote are members of the Sealed Knot whose object is to promote historical research whilst raising the public's historical awareness of the English Civil Wars.
To add to the host of events taking place, a traditional English maypole will be erected in Banbury for the first time since 1589.
Click on the links below for further details on various activities taking place over the weekend, a message from town Mayor Cllr Ann Bonner and a Programme of Events and map of People's Park.
Message from the town Mayor of Banbury
Sunday, July 6 Programme of Events
Map of People's Park
Entry form for adult's Hobby Horse race
Children's Make your own Hobby Horse
Fancy Dress Competition on a Cock Horse
Fancy Dress Competition - Nursery Rhyme Characters
Guidelines for Children's Races
Banbury Town Council press release
The annual Hobby Horse event - inspired by the Ride a Cock Horse nursery rhyme - starts on Saturday when Bloxham Morris dancing team will be touring the town along with beasts and guests.
On Sunday town mayor Ann Bonner will be joined by civic dignitaries to lead a procession from the town hall to People's Park, stopping off at St Mary's Church in Horse Fair for a 12.45pm service.
Mrs Bonner said: "We usually have a good response to Town Mayor's Sunday but this year is going to be even bigger because it's with a Jacobean theme and is the biggest event of the year to mark 400 years of having our town charter.
"I urge everyone to come down to the town hall, the church, or straight to People's Park for the start of events.
"It will be a wonderful procession followed by an afternoon of fun and enjoyment with stalls, fancy dress competitions and the horse races.
"It's for the town and about the town. It's about our history and everything I want to celebrate that's good about Banbury. We try to plan something for everyone."
In People's Park, where events will be officially opened at 1.30pm on Sunday, the maypole will be a major attraction alongside the usual mix of hobby horses in every style and colour, and stalls galore for shopaholics.
Hobby horse racing will also be a main event and new this year as part of charter celebrations will be an array of Jacobean demonstrators and a Sealed Knot encampment.
Hobby Horse organiser Vera Wass said: "There used to be Neithrop Maypole in Banbury and up until 1589 people used to celebrate May Day but this was stopped by the Puritans.
"We will be inviting the people of Banbury to come and make merry round the maypole .
"I think it's quite an achievement. The symbolic raising of a maypole for people to dance round after all this time is quite a pleasing thought.
"It's quite exciting to overcome that many years of prejudice and to have a climate in which we can reinstate that is rather a testament to the people of Banbury today."
There will be lots of children's activities at the festival including fancy dress competitions, and Hook Norton Silver Band will be providing some of the music.