Although the tradition was that dancing on the Monday following Whitsun itself (being the seventh Sunday after Easter) moving to the modern “Spring Bank Holiday” Monday made pretty good sense.

In the past, though, Whitsun was a time when Church festivals played an important part in Village life. It is entirely likely that the festival may have originated from a Pagan Spring festival that was used to promote growth in the coming years crops, and was adopted by the church in later years.

Needless to say, almost everyone in Bampton now refers to the Spring Bank Holiday as “Whitsun”…

…and so it is with this page!


The Bampton Whitsun weekend is packed with all kinds of activities in varying degrees of excitement from the pastoral to the adrenaline-fueled, and nearly non-stop from the Friday night to the not-that-small hours of Tuesday morning!

Music Sessions

There are music sessions generally on the Friday, getting the whole thing started, and also Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings with home and visiting musicians making merry in the pubs. Beware the Monday evening session where thirsty dancers and musicians gather to rebalance their hydration (honestly, that’s what’s happening…) and enjoy some wonderful live music.

The SPAJERS Great Annual Bampton Shirt Race

On Saturday in the early evening, Bampton folk take to the streets in all manner of homemade contraptions and in fancy dress to compete in the Shirt Race.

The original race, run in 1953, saw teams of two, dressed in traditional nightshirts (hence the “shirt” part of the name) racing in old-fashioned prams along a route stopping at all the public houses in the town where one would consume a glass of ale before running off to the next.

Some athletic contenders do still race in prams and pushchairs for the cup however most of the field are more “creative” with their chariots fielding themes from films, music, current and local affairs. Needless to say, the town’s hostelries can be really quite lively afterwards.

Flower Festival

For those in need of respite from the more “active” pursuits of the weekend, St Mary’s Church hosts a Flower Festival with beautiful displays of blooms on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

May Garlands

Continuing the floral theme and another centuries-old tradition, this time for the children, are the May Garlands. Essentially two willow hoops fashioned into a ball shape and festooned with flowers, crowned with a “top posy”, given a passenger of a much loved doll or soft toy inside and carried on a pole by two children. Viewing and judging around 11am on Monday.

Morris Dancing

Of course the Monday is mostly about the Morris. The three Bampton sides dance from 8am outside pubs, in gardens of some of Bampton’s impressive houses, on the streets and in the market square until around 6pm when visiting Morris sides join the fun with dancing continuing until around 9pm and the start of that Monday evening session previously mentioned.

Throughout the day the sides are followed by townsfolk providing a willing audience and much needed encouragement through the later stages!!