The Scarborough Fair

Established under Royal Charter in 1253, the original Scarborough Fair drew merchants from as far away as the Ottoman Empire to ‘sell goods of true worth’ to hundreds of visitors each August and September. The fair survived for 430 years, taking place for the last time in 1788.

Over 230 years later, The Scarborough Fair is set to return, reimagined as a year-round programme of distinctive arts, heritage and sporting events at venues across the town. Made possible with investment from the UK government’s Town Centre Fund, The Scarborough Fair is a project of North Yorkshire Council, working in partnership with the public and private sectors and initiated following extensive consultation with local residents, businesses and community organisations.

Ambitions of the Fair

The Scarborough Fair has six strategic ambitions:

  1. To use cultural activity to maximise on and lend narrative to Scarborough’s rich and impressive heritage and to ensure the area is seen as a contemporary, year-round destination.
  2. To address social exclusion and enhance opportunities for people who are disadvantaged and to improve prospects for our areas of multiple deprivation.
  3. To contribute towards economic regeneration and targeted sector support for the creative and cultural industries including art, design, film, retail, tourism and hospitality.
  4. To contribute to the levelling up agenda by enhancing employment opportunities, increasing community pride and engaging with people through creative learning programmes.
  5. To use Scarborough’s cultural capital to refresh the town’s image, attract more skilled people to its workforce, promote inward investment and improve ecological sustainability.
  6. To incorporate every aspect of culture and provide a space for music, visual art, performance, sport and food to take centre stage and promote the best that Scarborough has to offer.

The Scarborough Fair will play a central role in the town’s regeneration, progress the place-making agenda and animate our communities. Local stories, people, venues, spaces and landscapes will be the inspiration for activity with a national appeal and that increases local pride, enhances aspirations and deepens understanding. The Scarborough Fair will be the way that we tell our story in a more dynamic and cohesive way – linking the heritage, geography, culture and people of our town in a way that helps us articulate our story much better – the story of Scarborough in the future, not the past.


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