Every year Somerset Council hosts a historic outdoor travelling funfair and market near the centre of Bridgwater, Somerset. The funfair on St Matthews Field, TA6 7HD is organised by the Showman’s Guild with Somerset Council organising the market elements of the event. Bridgwater Fair attracts crowds from far a field and is recognised as the largest fair in the South West with roughly 40,000 visitors each year.
This annual event, which dates back to the Charter of King John, is now almost 800 years old, the last 600 years of which have been spent on St Matthews Field. The Charter decreed that the four-day fair was to start annually on the last Wednesday in September.
The 2023 Bridgwater Fair starts on Wednesday 27 September. The last day of the fair is Saturday 30th September.
Opening and closing times for the fun fair are usually:
- 11am to 11pm Wednesday
- 1pm to 11pm on Thursday
- 1pm to 11.30pm on Friday
- 11am to 11pm on Saturday
The West Street market usually opens:
- 10am to 10pm Wednesday
- 10am to 10pm on Thursday
- 10am to 10pm on Friday
- 10am to 10pm on Saturday
Following tradition, the Fair will be officially opened on ‘Fair Wednesday’ at 11.30am by the Council Chairman and the Mayor of Bridgwater.
Road closures and prohibition of on-street parking
Detailed road closure information is displayed in the notice section of the Bridgwater Mercury at least twice in the run-up to the event, usually late August and mid-September.
Road closures start at 9am on Tuesday 26 September 2023, and last until at 10am on Sunday 1 October 2023.
West Street, Milton Place, St Matthews Green, Westover Green and St Matthews Field were affected by road closures.
Diversion routes will be in place.
Prohibition of parking (and traffic coning) will be in place along many surrounding streets including Northfield, Durleigh Road (to the junction of Woodbury Road), Park Road and Albert Street from 8pm on Monday 25 September 2023 until 10am on Sunday 1 October 2023.
Westfield Close and Halswell Close was residents permit only.
If residents park without a permit, then they are liable.
As in previous years limited parking will be available Thursday to Saturday of fair week, with the Rotary Club of Bridgwater which is located on the Fairfield and costs of £5 per vehicle.
Additional public parking is usually available at the YMCA in Friarn Avenue and at Bridgwater Cricket Club on Durleigh Road.
A list of Bridgwater pay and display car parks is available for download below.
Please note there are additional car parks within the town centre, but these are not operated by the Council.
West Street and Fairfield Markets
The markets we know today, with their stalls set-up through West Street, as well as the one-day horse and goods market held at the top of St Matthews Field, are very different to the original fairs of 800 years ago. The West Street market runs from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening. The Fairfield market runs all day on ‘Fair Wednesday’ (the last Wednesday in September).
Traders from across the UK attend the West Street and Fairfield markets with products ranging from clothing and shoes, rugs and cushions, bulbs and plants, china and pottery, as well as culinary delights such as the famed Welsh cakes, brandy snaps, preserves and jams and much more.
Please see below for a map highlighting the locations of the West Street and Fairfield Markets and the parking days for the Fairfield Market.
Temporary cabin toilets, provided by the Council, are available behind West Bow House and Westfield House on West Street, and behind the Horse and Jockey Public House on Fairfield. Portaloos, including disabled accessible toilets, are also provided behind the Horse and Jockey Public House on Fairfield.
First Aid during the event is provided by St Johns Ambulance. This service is situated in Westfield Church car park, West Street, from Wednesday to Saturday of fair week. First Aid provision is funded by the Council.
Alcohol at the fair
Visitors to the Fair should be aware that West Street, St Matthews Field and most of the surrounding area are covered by the Council’s Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). This is an Order designed to tackle nuisance arising from people acting antisocially through drinking excessively in public places.
The Order gives the Police and PCSO’s the power to confiscate alcohol within the PSPO area. These powers will be vigorously enforced and anybody bringing alcohol into West Street or St Matthews Field especially can expect to be challenged and may be required to surrender their alcohol.
Only alcohol in plastic cups purchased from the hatch at the Horse and Jockey and consumed within the vicinity will be permitted.