Thousands of travellers from across Europe arrive in Cumbria for Appleby Horse Fair

Thousands of travellers from across Europe have begun to arrive in Cumbria as the Appleby Horse Fair gets underway, with locals closing a school and shutting pubs as the festival starts.

Police said they have made arrests for theft and drug driving and been called to the scene of a crash where a horse died and three people were injured before the fair started. 

A total of 30,000 visitors are expected to congregate in the small town of Appleby-in-Westmorland and neighbouring Kirkby Stephen for the annual four-day event.

Around 10,000 of these will be members of the gypsy, Roma and traveller community, with the 250-year-old fair billed as the largest traditional gathering of the community in Europe.

Travellers have already begun to arrive in the town, with many bringing horses, ponies and carriages with them to ‘the New Fair’.

Many have taken to washing their horses in the waters of the River Eden, which flows through the towns, as the festival gets underway today, June 9.

Aerial photos show hundreds of caravans and horse-drawn carriages have moved into the area, with their owners setting up camp in fields nearby.

In preparation some locals pubs have decided to close their doors during the week of the fair with organisers confirming at least 11 pubs in Appleby and Kirkby Stephen will not open while the event takes place.

In the run up to the fair, Cumbria Police is urging motorists to drive cautiously in the area and told the public to report any concerns they might have.

Appleby Primary School, on Station Road, will close tomorrow on June 10 because of the event.

Cumbria County Council said: ‘The closure is due to the health and safety of pupils travelling to and from school during Appleby New Fair.’

The RSPCA is also advising visitors to Appleby Horse Fair not to sell or buy puppies at the event, due to concerns that many may be sick.

‘I can’t emphasise enough to Appleby visitors, that buying a puppy from the fair is really not a good idea,’ said RSPCA Chief Inspector Rob Melloy. ‘Last year we saw a lot of puppies being sold and some were so sick they had to be put to sleep by a vet. It is so tragic, but if people continue to buy them at the fair, breeders will continue to bring them each year.’

the RSPCA said it will be on hand at the event, offering welfare advice and support for the hundreds of horses brought to the fair.

Police said they have made arrests for theft and drug driving and been called to the scene of a crash where a horse died

Three people were injured before the fair started, police said, rushing to the event which sees around 30,000 visitors

Three people were injured before the fair started, police said, rushing to the event which sees around 30,000 visitors

A woman sits on top of her horse as it strides through the waters of the River Eden this morning. Many travellers wash their horses when they arrive in the town in preparation for the fair

A woman sits on top of her horse as it strides through the waters of the River Eden this morning. Many travellers wash their horses when they arrive in the town in preparation for the fair

A man washes his horse in the River Eden this morning ahead of the Appleby Horse Fair. Travellers wash their horses in the river after arriving before trotting them up and down the 'flashing lane' - a closed off rural road - and haggling over them

A man washes his horse in the River Eden this morning ahead of the Appleby Horse Fair. Travellers wash their horses in the river after arriving before trotting them up and down the ‘flashing lane’ – a closed off rural road – and haggling over them

A man stands next to a horse after washing it in the River Eden this morning, with police officers pictured in attendance at the annual event

A man stands next to a horse after washing it in the River Eden this morning, with police officers pictured in attendance at the annual event

A man washes his horse in the River Eden this morning is the first day of the annual Appleby Horse Fair gets underway

A man washes his horse in the River Eden this morning is the first day of the annual Appleby Horse Fair gets underway

The Appleby Horse Fair is one of the largest gatherings of gypsies and travellers in Europe, with people dressing up to look their best for it

The Appleby Horse Fair is one of the largest gatherings of gypsies and travellers in Europe, with people dressing up to look their best for it 

These women posed for a selfie before heading into the town of Appleby earlier today, as the long awaited event finally go underway

These women posed for a selfie before heading into the town of Appleby earlier today, as the long awaited event finally go underway

Travellers have arrived with caravans and carriages, with this aerial image showing them setting up camp in fields close to the town earlier today

 Travellers have arrived with caravans and carriages, with this aerial image showing them setting up camp in fields close to the town earlier today

People head out into Appleby earlier today as travellers, gypsy and Roma from across Europe congregate in the Cumbrian town

People head out into Appleby earlier today as travellers, gypsy and Roma from across Europe congregate in the Cumbrian town

Children ride on a pony-drawn cart through the town of Appleby today, as thousands of people from the traveller community arrive for the horse fair

Children ride on a pony-drawn cart through the town of Appleby today, as thousands of people from the traveller community arrive for the horse fair

Attendees to the horse fair wasted no time getting into the swing of things, quickly changing clothes and heading out into the town for a day out

Attendees to the horse fair wasted no time getting into the swing of things, quickly changing clothes and heading out into the town for a day out

Appleby Horse Fair: Historic event tracing its roots back to 1685

The fair is held outside the town of Appleby, at the point where the old Roman Road crosses Long Marton Road, on Gallows Hill, which was named after the public hangings that were once carried out there.

It was once thought the fair originated from a royal charter to the borough of Appleby from King James II of England in 1685, although more recent research has found the charter was cancelled before it was ever enacted.

The gathering is sometimes known as ‘the New Fair’ because Appleby’s medieval borough fair, held at Whitsuntide, ceased in 1885.

The ‘New Fair’ began in 1775 for sheep and cattle drovers and horse dealers to sell their stock.

By the 1900s it had evolved into a major Gypsy/Traveller event which brought families from across the UK and Europe.

The Appleby Horse Fair takes place every year at the beginning of June, with year’s edition being held a week later than planned after organisers delayed it to make way for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

It comes after the Covid pandemic impacted on the previous two years, with the fair being cancelled in 2020 and postponed in 2021. 

Les Clark, Chair of the Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Coordinating Group (MASCG) said: ‘All the agencies involved in responding to the fair were keen to reach a compromise that enabled both the settled communities of Appleby and the surrounding areas and the Gypsy and Traveller communities to arrange and enjoy both celebrations.

‘We’re grateful to the Gypsy and Traveller representatives in the Multi-Agency Strategic Coordinating Group for being flexible on moving the date of next year’s fair to accommodate the celebrations of the Queen’s Jubilee.

‘As part of this mutually agreed compromise, a delegation of representatives from the Gypsy and Traveller Community will gather in the Fair field on Wednesday 8 June, to reinforce the traditional dates of the Fair.

‘The MASCG will also engage with those communities that normally accommodate people travelling to the fair in the days before to ensure that the impact on their Jubilee celebrations is minimalised as well as reinforcing a strong, ‘Do not come early’ message to those wishing to attend the Fair.’

Billy Welch, a member of the Multi Agency Co-ordinating Group, and representative for gypsy and travellers, said: ‘In the spirit of compromise and mutual respect that led to the cancellation of the Fair in 2020 and its postponement in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m pleased that we have been able to reach agreement on the dates for next year’s fair.

A woman rides her horse into the River Eden in Appleby this morning on the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair. The event is expected to last for four days

A woman rides her horse into the River Eden in Appleby this morning on the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair. The event is expected to last for four days

A man poses for a photo on the first day of the event. The Appleby Horse Fair has been a traveller-centric event since the 1900s

A man poses for a photo on the first day of the event. The Appleby Horse Fair has been a traveller-centric event since the 1900s 

A woman poses for a photo on the first day of the annual event, which originated as an event for sheep and cattle drovers, and horse breeders, to sell their stock

A woman poses for a photo on the first day of the annual event, which originated as an event for sheep and cattle drovers, and horse breeders, to sell their stock

A man rides on a carriage pulled by two horses in Cumbria today ahead of the Appleby Horse Fair. Tens of thousands of people are expected to arrive in the county for the event

A man rides on a carriage pulled by two horses in Cumbria today ahead of the Appleby Horse Fair. Tens of thousands of people are expected to arrive in the county for the event

People arriving for the Appleby Horse Fair set up camp on fields in the Appleby area. They are expected to stay for at least the next four days

People arriving for the Appleby Horse Fair set up camp on fields in the Appleby area. They are expected to stay for at least the next four days

Crowds gather on the banks of the River Eden this morning to watch travellers washing their horses on the first day of the horse fair

Crowds gather on the banks of the River Eden this morning to watch travellers washing their horses on the first day of the horse fair

‘This decision will enable the settled communities in and around Appleby to mark the Queen’s Jubilee, while preserving the Fair’s historic association with the town at a time that’s as close to the traditional dates, as is possible.’

‘It has also been agreed that, after last three years in which the traditional dates for the Fair have been disrupted for different reasons, we will return to the traditional dates in 2023.’

Motorists in the area have been warned that horses and carts will be on the roads, and are being urged to take care.  

Earlier this week a horse was killed after it was involved in a crash with a vehicle while pulling a carriage on the A66 on Monday morning, June 6. 

The busy road, which is one of the main routes into the area, was closed while police dealt with the incident, which left three people who were on the carriage with minor injuries. 

Cumbria Police said it had made no arrests following the incident and that the driver of the motor vehicle was uninjured.

Chief Superintendent Matt Kennerley, Gold Commander for Appleby Horse Fair, said: ‘At this time of year we always urge drivers to be particularly careful on the county’s roads.

‘The likelihood of encountering slow-moving traffic is high so we must all be attentive behind the wheel.

‘I urge people to take particular care on the A66, where fast-moving vehicles can come across slow-moving, often horse-drawn, vehicles and also the A685 in the vicinity of Kirkby Stephen, where there are caravans and horses by the side of the road. Whilst we already have large numbers of officers in these areas, we have further increased our resourcing here, to reassure people and help keep everyone safe.

‘By being aware of the potential dangers, we can all do our part to make sure everyone reaches their destination safely and without incident.’

Dollie-Anna, aged two, looks towards her mother after they travelled in a horse-drawn caravan to the Appleby Horse Fair today

Dollie-Anna, aged two, looks towards her mother after they travelled in a horse-drawn caravan to the Appleby Horse Fair today

A man attends to his horse and carriage at the side of the road in Appleby this morning. The fair is the largest gathering of its type in Europe

A man attends to his horse and carriage at the side of the road in Appleby this morning. The fair is the largest gathering of its type in Europe

A woman rides her horse through the streets of Appleby-in-Westmorland today, as the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair gets underway

A woman rides her horse through the streets of Appleby-in-Westmorland today, as the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair gets underway

There were long queues on the roads leading into the area this morning as thousands of travellers arrived for the annual event

There were long queues on the roads leading into the area this morning as thousands of travellers arrived for the annual event

This year police have made changes to traffic regulations so local roads can be opened and closed when needed.

The number of temporary toilets has also been increased, and there will be daily meetings of the fair’s co-ordinating group.

In its 250-year history the fair has only been cancelled twice, the first in 2001 during the foot and mouth outbreak and the second in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The gathering is billed as the biggest traditional gypsy fair in Europe and has developed traditions that take place every year.

Gypsy horses are washed in the River Eden in Appleby and trotted up and down the ‘flashing lane’ – a closed off rural road – before being haggled over and bought.

There is a market on Jimmy Winter’s Field with stalls selling everything from fashion to horse-related wares.

Cumbria police have not yet responded to MailOnline’s request for confirmation on how many have been arrested.

Travellers arriving in Appleby this morning with horses pulling along their carriage. The event is expected to attract 10,000 members of the travelling community

Travellers arriving in Appleby this morning with horses pulling along their carriage. The event is expected to attract 10,000 members of the travelling community

A stall holder sets up their market stall on the first day of the show. Traders will sell goods to the thousands of people expected to attend this weekend

A stall holder sets up their market stall on the first day of the show. Traders will sell goods to the thousands of people expected to attend this weekend