Downton Cuckoo Fair

2022 – Date for your diary – Sat 30th April for the Fair!

To help stall holders plan for their events in 2022 the date of the fair will be 30th April 2022 (it’s always held on the Saturday of the first May Bank holiday).

Over the remainder of 2021 we will continue to monitor the regulations, guidance and advice for organisers of large outdoor events.  We receive updates from Wiltshire Council, and their Event Safety Advisory Group (ESAG), the industry body – The Events Industry Forum and The Purple Guide.

As a large, outdoor, un-ticketed, free-to-enter event our key considerations would be around any requirements: to manage / limit visitor numbers (eg to help ensure social distancing); to record stall holders/visitor details (eg for track and trace); to review vaccination status of stall holders/visitors (to confirm they are ‘protected’); or to ensure stall holders/visitor compliance to social distancing/mask wearing.  As for 2020 and 2021 years and recognising that we’re one of the first major events in the year the key decision point would be early in 2022.

The other consideration would be any requirements for any of the venues within the Fair, eg pubs, schools, churches etc.

2021 – Cancelled – Coronavirus

We are so sorry to have to announce that the Downton Cuckoo Fair 2021 will have to be cancelled.

It is with heavy hearts that the Downton Cuckoo Fair Committee have taken the decision not to hold the Fair in 2021.

With Government guidance relating to Covid-19 changing regularly the Cuckoo Fair Committee has with some difficulty, risk assessed the Fair to ascertain whether it could be run in a Covid safe way. With Safety Advisory Group experts on the Committee we have been very well placed to be clear about what is required but have concluded that there is too much uncertainty, potential risk, additional complexities, and extra cost for it to be a viable, enjoyable event.

We are very aware that the Covid situation and associated guidance will change in the next six months, hopefully for the better, but we would normally be planning, making bookings and outlaying costs now, so needed to make an unambiguous decision based on the current information and guidance.

More importantly, and at the forefront of our minds, is the welfare of the villagers and people who live locally to Downton, as well as all the volunteers and contractors who make the Fair happen. We are particularly mindful of the potential risks from an influx of people and we want everyone to stay safe and well.

We know that this will not be welcome news for those groups, organisations and societies for whom the Cuckoo Fair is their annual opportunity to raise significant funds. It will undoubtedly also be a blow to all our wonderful performers and stall holders. We would like to assure you that we didn’t take this decision lightly. A Fair with significantly fewer visitors, limited stalls and no entertainment would simply not be one which we are proud to share with you all.

So, in these difficult and uncertain times we also want to bring some cheer to the village where we can and would like to confirm that the Cuckoo Fair will, as ever, be providing Downton with a village Christmas tree. We hope this puts a little bit of sparkle in 2020 and very much hope that 2021 is a more optimisitic year but more especially we look forward to the prospect of welcoming you all to the best Fair ever in 2022!

For further information please read our Frequently Asked Questions below – click + to see the answers


If you are a fair visitor you can still contact your favourite exhibitors and help them with their custom during this difficult time by having a look at the stall holder A-Z directory

We considered many factors using the government’s COVID guidance and associated risk templates.  For us the key ones included:

  • Being an un-ticketed event with multiple entry points means we can’t control visitor numbers
  • Being a free event limits our ability to raise funds to provide the additional COVID precautions
  • Being free means a last minute cancellation incurs all the costs with no on-the-day income eg car parks, which would hit us hard financially
  • Although we have reserves these were reduced when we cancelled the 2020 fair and are further reduced by the cancellation of the 2021 fair (we have annual fixed costs)
  • We feature live entertainment at several venues, where it would be difficult to setup the required 2m bubbles. Under the current COVID guidance most of our entertainers are unable to practice at all.
  • Our stall layout is constrained by the size of the greens which would increase crowding.
  • The fair is held in the middle of a village and having 20k visitors would significantly increase the risk of bringing COVID to a low incidence area.
  • The fair is early in 2021 which means there is little the time, following the winter, for the pandemic to reduce.

Other Events

We appreciate it’s a long way off and that some people are unaware of the link between the Fair and the Christmas Tree but the proceeds of the running the Fair are used to fund the purchase, delivery, erection, lighting and insurance of the Downton Christmas Tree every year.  We also rely on the support of TreeMenders when it is taken down.

We also ran the Partridge Fair but this is now being organised by a different group.

So, in these difficult and uncertain times we also want to bring some cheer to the village where we can and would like to confirm that the Cuckoo Fair will, as ever, be providing Downton with a village Christmas tree.

We hope this puts a little bit of sparkle in 2020 and very much hope that 2021 is a more optimisitic year but more especially we look forward to the prospect of welcoming you all to the best Fair ever in 2022!

The Downton Motor Club have confirmed that NONE of their events (car show, Motor Run etc) will be held this year.

The Downton Football Club have confirmed that the car boot sale will NOT be held this year.

Downton Band have confirmed that their concert (which would have been held in the afternoon) is now cancelled

Stall Holders

We understand that it is not easy to secure a stall at the Cuckoo Fair, which is why we would like to offer all stallholders who had carried over their booking fee from 2020 the chance to roll their booking over again to secure  a stall in 2022.

As stated in our Terms and Conditions, we wouldn’t normally offer a refund if the Fair is cancelled, but given such likely difficult times ahead we would like to offer a refund to those who would prefer it, minus a £10 admin fee which will contribute to covering the costs we have incurred already this year.

To request a refund please follow the instructions in the email you have received.

This option will remain available until the end of April 2021

Having cancelled the 2020 fair we unfortunately also had to cancel the 2021 fair.  In terms of our funding situation the 2020 financial year incurred costs of £7,400 and the 2021 financial year will incur (fixed) costs of around £3,000.  Taken together these have a large impact on the reserves we hold – reserves we need to pay our suppliers in the event of a last minute or emergency cancellation (eg Southampton Boat Show).

The £10 admin fee for each stall holder booking refund is noted in our terms and conditions and will help to cover some of the annual costs like insurance, rental and legal fees, that we have to pay regardless of whether the fair happens.

Our current understanding of government guidance is that unlike other businesses we have no employees (we are entirely volunteer supported), pay no rates, trade only once a year and so don’t qualify for any of the existing support schemes under COVID-19.  Like other business who provide outdoor events we are working with trade organisations, eg the Events Industry Forum, to redress that but at the moment it appears we don’t qualify for any grants.

This admin fee money will therefore go towards ensuring that the Fair can happen in 2022 and we thank you for your understanding.

We aim to process refunds within a week of receiving them.  Typically refunds are delayed if your bank details are incorrect so please check them especially the name of the account.  These checks are being introduced by UK banks to help reduce online payment frauds.  There is a phased introduction throughout 2020 – for details see this article from the UK Finance and this article from Which?

The payments have a reference DCF xxx RFND with xxx being your stall holder reference (not location of the your pitch) as printed on the letter from us.