THOUSANDS of families are flocking to Abingdon this week for the return of the Michaelmas Fair.

The annual two-day extravaganza has transformed the town centre on Monday and Tuesday with a host of traditional rides, games and food stalls.

Widely-regarded as the longest in Europe, the fair stretched for a mile down the high street, taking in both the Market Place and Ock Street.

Though now packed full of entertainment the fair, named after the feast of St Michael, dates back to the 14th century when it was a hiring event for rural farmworkers in the area.

Over the years it 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 filled the town centre with the usual array of classic fairground attractions including the Waltzers, Dodgems, Fun House and Helter Skelter, as well as a bigger and better version of one of last year’s hit attractions.

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

There was also everything from popcorn and candy floss to duck hooking, as well as a large selection of smaller rides and attractions just for young children.

Among those taking in the sights and sounds of this year's event was Alistair Fear, who runs the Abingdon Blog.

In a post sharing photographs from the event, he wrote: "The strangest thing about Abingdon Fair is that, even though we live only thirty yards from the fair, we do not hear the pulsating noise from the big rides until we leave the house."

He added: "The weather was good, and there seemed to be lots of people enjoying themselves."

To mark the start of the fair, Abingdon Town Council held a blessing and dedication on Sunday.

Abingdon's mayor Margaret Crick and town councillors processed to the Galloping Horses in the Market Place.

Road closures which have been in place since 8.30am on Sunday will be lifted at 9am on Wednesday.

As is tradition, however, the end of the Michaelmas Fair does not mark the end of festivities.

The smaller scale Runaway Fair, which originally provided the opportunity for unhappy employees to change their minds, will take place on Monday in Market Place.

This will also include traditional rides, games and food stalls from midday until 11pm.

For more information visit or search Facebook for Oxfordshire Fun Fairs.