THOUSANDS of people are expected to attend the Avon Vale boxing day hunt meet in Lacock this year.

The annual event, draws crowds of anything from 2,000 to 5,000 and people are being advised to get to the meet early to ensure a parking space.

Roads in the National Trust village will be closed as an expected 70 to 90 riders join senior joint hunt master Jonathon Seed, hounds and a six year old eagle owl called Ogla.

Eddy Stiles, who is chairman of the Avon Vale supporters club will be following the hunt on his quad bike with Olga, the siberian eagle owl, throughout the day.

He said crowds meet outside the Red Lion pub at 11am for drinks courtesy of the pub.

He explained: “It is rather longer than a normal hunt meet and some of the people that come along just attend to witness the spectacal of all the hounds, horses and crimson jackets.

“Some of the riders just come along on their horses for this event and wouldn’t normally attend. Others come along simply because it is something to do on boxing day.”

Mr Stiles will follow the hunt on his quad bike with Olga alongside some of the riders who aren’t jumping fences and hedges on the day.

He said: “I help them find alternative routes. My quad bike can get through anywhere, but it can’t jump so I find ways round.”

Mr Stiles said police also temporarily close the A350 following the hunt meet to make sure the riders can cross the road safely in such large numbers.

He said: “I tend to stay back away from the horses for the meet, so if Olga spreads her wings she doesn’t spook any of the horses.

“The people of Lacock have always been very welcoming and supportive of us meeting there.”

The hunt continues throughout the day until it gets dark.