Europe’s biggest travelling funfair is coming to Newcastle for one weekend only on Friday 22nd June. With over 300 attractions set to take over the Town Moor this summer it’s got me thinking about when I used to go and visit every year as a child. The Hopping’s fair has been coming to Newcastle for over 136 years now and started as a way to encourage movement from the boozy antics at the race to a more family fun event.
Back then the fairground rides were free. Although times and the worlds financial status has changed, the prices just keep going up and up all the time. I always thought that as a child £2 a ride was great. I was allowed to go on the ones I wanted (if I was a suitable age and height of course) where memories of me absolutely hating the ride that goes up and down and drops you in your seats to the floor. Anyone else remember that one? It was perhaps then when I grew my fear of rides and roller-coaster, I can’t even tackle the pirate ship anymore. But with rides costing £5 or more per person per go I can only image the prices parents must pay. This probably limits a child’s experience at the Hopping’s to only a few rides because of the expense and I know as a child I would have wanted to go on them all.
Never the less, as an adult now (still very young at heart) I take the venture every year to the Hopping’s in tradition. Don’t get me wrong I won’t step foot on a ride as even the thought gets my pulse racing a little. I just wander the stalls late at night and watch the fair ground lights. And this has become one of my favourite things to do in summer. Newcastle has the pleasure to have such culture from Europe even if it is only a fairground. Going late evening when the sun is setting and the ride lights come on is so lovely to see. The smell of burger vans and sugar coated donuts fill the air. Cotton candy on sticks and sweet stalls galore.
If you are around in Newcastle when the Hopping’s are on the Town Moor I really recommend you have a wander. Even if you are like me and don’t like rides and adventure thrills such as these it is such a good atmosphere to be a part of. It isn’t just rides either, there is the classic haunted house, dodgems and my favourite hook a duck. I used to love attempting to get a duck as a child and my dad would come and hook a duck when the man wasn’t looking. Last year I gave it a go and in my 21 years I had become a professional duck hooker. My prize was to pick a soft toy and after perhaps too much deliberation I chose a bright pink fluffy monkey (one of those that their hands and feet have Velcro stickers on).
The Hopping’s has changed from when I was a kid in terms of the danger of rides and cost too but the entertainment and atmosphere of it all hasn’t. If you’re taking children for the first time take lots of cash and be prepared for them to want to go on all the rides. If you just want some greasy funfair food then I really think everyone would enjoy a walk through the moor when the lights light up the skies of Newcastle. You might even catch me there, look out for the pink fluffy monkey!