LOVE Oxford, the annual Christian festival for thousands of worshippers, has been cancelled because it would have clashed with Oxford University students’ exams.

The worship event for churches across Oxford started in Broad Street in 2005 and then switched to South Park in 2009 before returning to Broad Street last year.

It relocated to South Park following complaints that the noise in the city centre disturbed students revising.

An estimated 4,000 churchgoers gather for the celebration with popular hymns, prayer and gospel music.

This year Sunday, June 29 was ruled out by the city council because it clashed with exams.

Rev Charlie Cleverly, rector of St Aldate’s Church, which helps to organise the festival, said: “The university quite reasonably wants quiet in Broad Street during exams but those exams seem to go on forever.

“Ideally we would like Love Oxford to be held in the summer term when the weather is fair and the students are around.”

Mr Cleverly’s assistant Lydia Smith added: “It’s disappointing, but this year a decision has been made to postpone Love Oxford due to the complications of getting Broad Street in university term/exam ‘red zones’.

“We are planning on having a City Cry evening prayer event at St Aldate’s church on June 13 with churches across Oxford involved.

“We have already made applications for Love Oxford for 2015.”

Oxford City Council spokeswoman Louisa Dean confirmed that Love Oxford asked to hold its event in Broad Street on June 29, a red zone day in the Broad Street protocol.

She said organisers had then asked for May 11 but had then pulled out of the date because of other commitments.

Executive member for city development Colin Cook said: “The protocol is there for guidance — it’s not a case of ‘thou shalt not’.

“South Park could be the best place for Love Oxford.”

Last year two dates in May chosen by organisers were rejected by colleges around Broad Street, so church leaders picked June 23 instead.

Oxford University spokes-man Matt Pickles said: “The Broad Street protocol was put in place after discussions between city council, university and colleges in the area.

“The protocol was put in place years ago and agrees dates for when events should and shouldn’t happen in Broad Street. Reasons behind these dates are to do with various issues including the timings of students’ exams.”