Burnley Wakes Fun Fair returns for first time in two years

All the fun of the Wakes Fair will return to Burnley this week for the first time in two years.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 3:45 pm
The Joker will be one of the rides at Burnley Wakes Fun Fair
The Joker will be one of the rides at Burnley Wakes Fun Fair

The fair, which is taking place at Towneley Park, opens on Wednesday and will run until Monday, July 12th.

More than 25 rides and attractions will be at the family fair including Freak Out, Stealth Bomber and Joker as well as traditional favourites like the waltzer, dodgems, and a fun house.

There will also be a selection of child-friendly attractions and fun fairground games.

“I know 2020 was a challenging year for many people, and our industry was no exception,” says Billy Hill, of The Showmen’s Guild (Lancashire Section), which organises the Wakes Fair. “There were no events at all until July and even when we were allowed to open again many of the regular places we normally visit were unavailable for various reasons. Planning time and social distancing also made some of the larger fairs impossible.

“I was lucky enough to open some smaller attractions at a park in Blackburn, but many of my showmen colleagues took up driving jobs instead. As we still have a lot of fixed costs to pay, doing nothing was not an option.”

This year’s Wakes Fair will be run as a Covid-compliant event. Visitors are encouraged to maintain social distancing and use the sanitisation stations at each attraction before they step on board. Although masks are not required outdoors, people may wish to wear them while queuing for rides, buying food etc.

“It’s all about being sensible,” said BIlly. “We are very grateful to Burnley Council for their co-operation in allowing us to stage a safe and enjoyable event. After 24 months without a fair, we’re thrilled to be back putting a smile on local families’ faces. I think we’re all ready for a bit of fun.”

In thanks for their efforts during the pandemic, The Showmen’s Guild has distributed hundreds of free ride tickets to various local NHS organisations and care providers.

In addition, a number of 50p ride tickets have been provided to low income families.

Burnley Wakes Fun Fair takes its name from the former mill holidays, when practically the whole town would close down for the week.

While some families would head for the seaside, others would stay local to enjoy all the fun of the fair.

Originally held in the town centre, it later moved to Fulledge Recreation Ground on the other side of Towneley Park. It has taken place within the park itself, on the car park inside the Todmorden Road entrance, for the past decade.

Billy, who will be operating his family’s mini roller coaster (the Ice Dragon) at this year’s fair, has been coming to Burnley all his life.

“This will be my 60th year. I’m 61 now, but obviously we missed last year due to the pandemic. Not only have the rides and attractions have changed over the years, so has the way we power them. Where once we used to use maybe 30 to 40 generators, innovations such as energy-saving LED lighting mean we can now run the entire site on about 15. The generators also a lot cleaner than they once were.”

Although there was no fair in 2020, The Showmen’s Guild visited Burnley in January of last year to stage its annual Lancashire Section Luncheon at the Crow Wood Hotel.

This prestigious event, which moves around the North West, attracted mayors and mayoresses from 32 different boroughs, as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The fair opening times are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, from 5 until 9-30pm, Saturday 1 until 9-30pm, and 1 until 7pm on Sunday.