ABOUT 5,000 people gathered in Bicester town centre for an afternoon of picnics and partying for the third annual Big Lunch on Sunday. 

Hundreds of tables and chairs lined Sheep Street, Crown Walk and Pioneer Square, with people bringing their own food or enjoying a hog roast and barbecue in the sunshine.

There were two live stages for entertainment, including local singers bands, a performance arena for dance and martial arts performances, a food market and costumed Disney characters greeted children.

A flash mob including about 200 people surprised onlookers with a dance performance of the Cha Cha Slide.

It was the most popular event since it was launched in 2012 as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

Originally held in Bicester Avenue Garden Centre, it is now organised by community group Grassroots Bicester’s Big Lunch Committee and was moved to the town centre last year so more people could take part.

Committee chairman Jason Slaymaker said: “This is part of a concept that people don’t get to sit down and have a meal together or see their neighbours.

“It’s a fantastic set-up that allows the whole community to come together and spend one afternoon together having a really great time.

“On the main street it was absolutely heaving and the fantastic weather made it a great atmosphere.”