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Northern Section

Administrative area: Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and that part of North Yorkshire above a line drawn from Hawes to Staithes.

Fair Day is 5 May in the Vale of York town of Northallerton. Once one of two annual hiring fairs that occupied Northallerton’s wide main street, it is the successor to a medieval fair that was held on the feast of St George.

Formerly held during Whit-week, the town centre fairs at Richmond in Yorkshire and Barnard Castle in County Durham now take place at the time of the spring bank holiday.

In June Newcastle-upon-Tyne becomes a magnet for showmen from all parts of the country, drawn there by the city’s legendary Town Moor Fair. It began in 1882 as the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Temperance Association Festival (still its official title) and very quickly grew into a large funfair. Now occupying 40 acres of the Town Moor, a vast area of common land dating from Norman times that is administered jointly by the Freemen and the Corporation of Newcastle, it is probably the largest funfair in Europe. Known to all Geordies as ‘The Hoppings’, it always takes place during the week the Northumberland Plate, the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, is run at nearby Gosforth Park.

In July the highlight of the month is another gathering on a grand scale: the Durham Miners’ Gala, ‘The Big Meeting’, an event supported by a large array of amusements on the city’s racecourse.

On the third Saturday in September the small North riding market town of Stokesley is the scene of the largest one-day agricultural show in the north of England. From the previous Wednesday a fair in support of the show occupies the Plain, the town’s wide market place.

The High Street in the town of Yarm, once an important port on the Tees, is the setting for a fair in October that owes it origin to a 17th century charter and was once best-known for the sale of cheese.