Roll up, roll up… because this is one Newcastle event you won’t want to miss. Hitting the Toon each year in June, The Hoppings is a fairground like no other. Drawing thousands of thrill-seekers from all over the North East, Europe’s largest travelling funfair is famous for its high-tech, white-knuckle rides. But there are plenty of old favourites too, from bumper cars and helter skelters to hoopla and tombolas. In fact, tradition plays a big part here - The Hoppings dates back to 1882 and both the locals and the travelling showmen who run it have been coming here for generations. Pay a visit and you’ll soon see why it’s so popular. The giddy mix of neon lights, pumping music and the wafting aromas of candy floss makes The Hoppings a feast for the senses that’s hard to resist.
And to really get the maximum amount of fairground fun, why not book into one of our Newcastle hotels? There’s a Premier Inn near The Hoppings with comfortable king-sized beds - and its central location is just the ticket if you wanted to take in some of the city’s other top attractions.
Wear wellies. Geordies have a saying that when The Hoppings comes to town, so does the rain.
In fact the 2013 event had to be cancelled because of the terrible weather.
The organisers do a great job of lining the main walkways with straw, but it can get muddy (and that’s all part of the fun).
The Hoppings is huge and, with over 300 attractions to choose from, it can all seem a bit bewildering for first-timers. Use our guide to help you decide where to head first.
The Hoppings is famous for having some of the best rides of any travelling fun fair. There’s Xtreme, which allows riders to experience both positive and negative g-forces. Or the 55-metre-high MACH5 which throws you around at speeds of up to 80mph. But one not-to-be-missed ride has to be Ice Jet, which includes over £20k worth of lighting and special effects, including UV lights and smoke machines - you can even request what song is playing as you’re spun around.
The Hoppings started in 1882, but some of the rides pre-date even that. There’s an immaculate carousel that dates back to 1881 - and it still has its original organ. The Ferris wheel is modern and extremely tall - it towers over Town Moor and gives lovely views of the whole of Newcastle. Then there are the ever-popular teacups, dodgems and flying mini planes. The ghost train is very popular too, and, while it may seem like a more sedate option, it is still very scary.
The Hoppings is famous for its fortune-telling mystics. You can’t miss them - their old-fashioned caravans and gypsy wagons are the first sight that greets you as you walk into the fairground. Most have been coming here for generations and many claim to be direct descendants of the original Gypsy Rose Lee. Getting your fortune told is a tradition at The Hoppings, so be prepared to queue to see one of the most popular clairvoyants.
Many of the attractions at The Hoppings are a real step back in time. Kids will love the halls of mirrors, or you can test your luck at the hook-a-duck and hoopla stalls. Tarzan, the aptly-named strongman stand, always draws a huge crowd. Think you can hang from a metal bar for two minutes? If you can, you win £20. Of course, It’s not as easy as it sounds. The rules are that you can’t adjust your grip or change hands, you just have to hold on for dear life.
The Hoppings takes place on the spacious Town Moor site, an area of common land in Newcastle that’s bigger than Hyde Park.
The Hoppings is on for eight days every June. Entry to the site is free and it’s open between 2pm and 11pm each day, apart from Saturday, when the fun starts at 1pm.
The first aid centre is at the main entrance on the Great North Road, although St John’s Ambulance staff also patrol the site. There are toilets on site too - but not many!
Each show person sets their own price, but expect to pay around prices are usually between around £2.50 and a fiver.
The Chinese noodle stall is very popular, as is the Grillhouse where you can get budget-friendly steak in a baguette or pulled pork sandwiches. Those with a sweet tooth are well catered for too, with Dutch waffles, pick and mix and a Belgian chocolate fountain with a range of goodies to dip in. Although The Hoppings was once called the Temperance Fair due to the lack of alcohol available, these days there is a saloon-style pop up bar where you can get jugs of sangria and Pimms.
The Hoppings is very near the trendy, affluent suburb of Jesmond where a world of culinary treats await. For burgers and cocktails there’s Jam Jar on Osbourne Road. Or try Dabbawal on Brentwood Avenue for Indian street food served tapas-style in bright, colourful surroundings. Also nearby is As You Like It on Archbold Terrace. This sprawling bar-restaurant is set over three floors and is a great spot for intimate meals during the week and nights out at weekends.
If you’re travelling to The Hoppings by Metro you’ll get off at West Jesmond. So why not use your visit to explore Newcastle’s most affluent suburb while you’re here? Jesmond has a wide variety of eclectic boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and Jesmond Dene, an area of outstanding natural beauty, is nearby too.
If you fancy a stroll, you’re also just a 20-minute walk away from the Great North Museum - a splendid Victorian building that houses a wealth of treasures from the natural world. Among the fossils and tanks full of live animals, you’ll find two Egyptian mummies and a virtual model of Hadrian’s Wall.
Slightly further on, but still just a 25-minute walk away from The Hoppings is the Laing Art Gallery, an internationally important collection of British paintings and craft. Take your time browsing its pre-Raphaelite masterpieces in quiet contemplation - it’s the perfect antidote to all that screaming and pumping music you’ll find at the funfair!
Town Moor is on the Great North Road and not far from both Haymarket and West Jesmond Metro stations. The area around the site does get very busy with traffic, so prepare for a wait if you were planning to drive or take a taxi.
The postcode for your sat nav is NE2 3NH. Head for the Grandstand Road entrance near the Blue House roundabout. There’s a paid-for car park which is less than a fiver for the day.
Buses from all over Newcastle stop right outside. Coming from the city centre? Get on at the Haymarket bus station and hop off at the Great North Road stop.
The nearest mainline train station is Newcastle Central. From here, take the Tyne and Wear Metro and get off at West Jesmond Metro station.
We have a huge range of fantastic hotels in the North East for the business and leisure traveller. If you're on business, check into our airport hotels. We also have a range of hotels ideally located for a weekend break away. Plus, there are hotels near Newcastle University and a collection of budget hotels for the price conscious Whichever part of Newcastle you’re planning to visit, you’ll find a selection of comfortable Premier Inn hotels nearby.
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