Speak to anyone from Hull about their memories and experience of Hull Fair and they’ll probably mention the sights – illuminating the skies for miles across Hull, the smells – something that will stay with you forever, the excitement – the anticipation of what’s to come, and the adrenaline – experiencing thrills like no other!
Hull Fair is probably Hull’s oldest tradition, dating back more than 700 years. It opens on Friday 7 October and will run until Saturday 15 October (excluding Sunday 9 October).
Last year an estimated 800,000 people rocked up to Walton Street with expectations of thrilling rides, family fun and traditional fairground food, and it did not disappoint! This year’s fair is set to be as successful as ever – with 70 adult rides, 250 children’s rides and 150 stalls, there’s something for everyone.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of attending before, or even if you’re an annual fair-goer, we’ve compiled some top tips to ensure you’re funfair-ing like a true Hullensian and a list of interesting Hull Fair facts to get you in-the-know.
* The Big Wheel – this is where you can catch all the sights of Hull from a height, and see the whole of Hull Fair in all its glowing glory!
* Some of the biggest, most extreme rides in Europe – adrenaline junkies should give AIR a go. As one of only three of its kind in the world it stands at 100ft tall and spins 360 degrees by 360 degrees by 360 degrees.
* Wright & Co’s brandy snaps – a must, trust us.
* Bob Carver’s pattie buttie – a secret family recipe for over 125 years, a delicacy Hull is famous for.
* Walton Street Walk – a concoction of smells and tastes from the cinder toffee, donuts, roast chestnuts and toffee apples (to name a few) are incredible.
* The funhouse and waltzers – there’re hundreds of things to do at Hull Fair but we still love the classics – do be warned, if you scream “go faster”, you will go faster!
Did you know?
* Hull Fair’s purpose hasn’t always been about fun and entertainment. In medieval times, the fair functioned as a market, and trade was the top priority. Festivities really began in the 18th and early-19th century when the fair was dominated by jugglers, theatrical booths, puppet shows and the famous Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie, which introduced the people of Hull to their first sights of wild animals.
* When the decision was made to change the location of the fair to its current home on Walton Street, the showpeople were concerned people wouldn’t know where the fair was.
* Randall Williams, a Yorkshire showmen who regularly visited Hull Fair with his Ghost Show, came up with the novel idea to attract the crowds – he arranged an extravagant funeral cortege from the old fairground site to Walton Street. People followed, intrigued to see who warranted such a show. When they arrived at the fair he bowed to the crowd and declared: “Now you know where Hull Fair is.”
* During the years of the First and Second World Wars, like most traditional fairs throughout England, Hull Fair was cancelled and was not revived until warfare had ceased.
* The interwar years saw much innovation at Hull Fair, one example of which was Pat Collins introducing the Wall of Death in 1930, a daredevil motorbike ride with a lion in the sidecar!
* Possibly the most historically notable stall of Hull Fair was Chicken Joe – The Man We All Know. Regularly attending in the 1930s and 1940s, Joe Barek ran a fairground spinner offering prizes of groceries and chicken, proving to be a popular reward due to the shortage of meat around the war. Generously, a three-piece suite was awarded to the winner of the final game of the fair!
* In the 1950s fairground rides such as waltzers and arks would double-up as places to hang out, and dodgem tracks would become a stage for holding hold rock ‘n’ roll dancing competitions.
Find out more about this year’s Hull Fair here.