THOUSANDS of families will soon flock to Abingdon for the return of a fair dating back to the middle ages.

The Michaelmas Fair, widely-regarded as the longest in Europe, will take over the town centre on Monday and Tuesday stretching for one mile down the high street, taking in both the Market Place and Ock Street.

Named after the feast of St Michael, it was originally a medieval hiring fair for rural farmworkers to find work in the area around Abingdon.

Over the years it has evolved to include a large selection of rides and other amusements, now being hosted by the town council and organised by Birmingham-based Bob Wilson and Sons Funfairs Ltd.

The company has promised along with the usual array of games, classic fairground attractions including the Waltzer, Dodgems, Fun House, Helter Skelter a bigger and better version of one of last year’s hit attractions will debut at the historic fair.

Mission Space will replace the Sky Fly ride on Ock Street, towering 40 metres high and giving revellers an enviable view of the Oxfordshire town.

Emily Wilson from Bob Wilson’s Funfairs said: “The Sky Fly has been one of our most popular attractions the past few years in Abingdon, so we’re pleased to take it to new heights.

“Unlike some of our other tall rides, this one is not fast or intense, so you’ll have time to enjoy the views from the top, which should be most spectacular.”

There will also be the regular array of food and game stalls, as well as a large selection of rides and attractions just for young children.

To mark the start of the fairs, the Abingdon Town Council will hold a blessing and dedication in the Market Place at 8pm on Sunday.

The Michaelmas Fair starts setting up from 8.30am on Sunday, after which there will road closures and diversions on High Street, Market Place, Ock Street, Stratton Way from its junction with Bath Street to Ock Street, The Square and West St Helen Street from its junction with High Street to Lombard Street.

Road closures will be in place until 9am on Wednesday.

The smaller scale Runaway Fair, which originally provided the opportunity for unhappy employees to change their minds, will be on Monday, October 15.