Several origins have been suggested for the name. Most relate to dancing, the word “hopping” meaning a dance in Middle English (Old fairs included dancing). Another idea stems from the clothing which the travellers used to wear; that being of old, sack like tops and pants. Clothing often became infested with fleas from the animals that travelled with the fair. People were often seen “jumping” or “hopping” about itching from the bites which they received. Or the name may derive from the Anglo-Saxon word “hoppen” meaning funfair.
The fair took place at Jesmond Dene from 1914–1918 and returned to the more spacious Town Moor, just north of the city centre, in 1919. There was no Festival on the Moor between 1920 and 1923, but it returned in June 1924, where it continued annually until 1946; a non-Showmen's Guild Fair was held that year but proved to be unpopular. The Guild showmen returned in 1947 and the Hoppings was a success with a record attendance; it was held, uninterrupted, on the Town Moor until 2013.
It has over 60 large rides and many more children’s rides and stalls—everything from rollercoasters and funhouses to teacups and big wheels, fortune tellers and many food vans.
The dates for the 2012 Hoppings were 22–30 June.
Future of the Hoppings & rival events
The 2013 event did not occur and any future events are unlikely to go ahead due to the Newcastle City Council removing the funding and a dispute with the Showmen’s Guild over rent and pitch terms. In August 2013 the council held a new event with “broader appeal” which included a funfair held on the Town Moor.
In 2013 a funfair will take place at Herrington Country Park on the outskirts of Sunderland in the same week (June 21–30) the Hoppings would have been held.
- "Millions go hopping mad". The Independent. 29 June 1995. Retrieved 7 October 2013. "Europe's largest travelling fair, the Hoppings, is a week of frenzied activity."
- "Plans to postpone historic Hoppings". 15 March 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Newcastle Town Moor Fair". National Fairground Archive. Retrieved 7 October 2013. "In terms of size Newcastle is perhaps the biggest fair in Britain, if not in Europe"
- Lanagan, Paul; (2010). The Hoppings: Newcastle's Town Moor Fair. ISBN 978-0-9555059-0-4
- "Axed Newcastle Hoppings to be replaced by new community event". BBC News. 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
- "Sunderland to host Hoppings–style funfair after Newcastle event cancelled". Sunderland Echo. 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2013-06-12.