Horncastle Horse Fair Celebrations Summer 2023!

Black hobby horse

Events running from July to September.  FULL PROGRAMME BELOW.

A community celebration is being held in Horncastle throughout this summer to mark the 75th anniversary of the last Great Horncastle Horse Fair. The celebration includes, an exhibition, free workshops, a guided walk, a film screening and more, and will culminate in a main event on Saturday 12th August, in several locations around Horncastle town centre.

In the early 19th century Horncastle's Horse Fair was reputedly the largest horse fair anywhere on earth, "for nowhere has anything like it". It was held every year from at least 1229 around the Feast of St Lawrence (10th August) and brought visitors seeking the best horses from as far away as Russia, Hungary and even America. The fair declined with the coming of the railways and motorised transport, with the last one held in 1948.

The 2023 Horse Fair will be very different. This will be the first year, of what organisers hope will become a new annual celebration, of this very significant part of the town's history. There won't be any real horses this year, (this may change in the future) however the community, organisers and artists will be creating all sorts of horse fair inspired activities and goings on, to celebrate the town's heritage in a way which is fun, interesting, engaging and even a bit silly too!

Photo 1   Unicorn spray paint by ImageSkool

Joe Richardson, a West End actor and puppeteer who grew up in Horncastle, will introduce a free film screening of War Horse at Stanhope Hall on 9th August. Joe was one of the puppeteers in the international tour of the National Theatre's 'War Horse' production and will also be working with local artists and performers to bring some new puppets to life, especially for the evening event on Saturday 12th August.

Photo 4   Horse Fair Exhibition at the Joseph Banks Centre

Alongside a fascinating exhibition about the original Horse Fair at the Joseph Banks Centre (running from July through to September), there will also be a Horse Fair Trail of specially community designed and decorated wooden horses in 40 Horncastle shop front windows throughout the school summer holidays.

Photo 2   Colourful horse decorated by local children.jpeg

Children, families and the community as whole can take part by making horse hats and flags in free drop in workshops with artists 'Lumo Workshop' at Horncastle Community Centre from 7th to 12th August, 10am to 4pm. Everyone who takes part will then be invited to gather together in the Community Centre garden on 12th August at 7pm to be part of some Horse Fair fun around the town!

Photo 3   Getting creative with Lumo workshop

On Saturday 12 August Daytime, 9am to 3pm (as part of Horncastle's market day) the main celebration event will begin with games and activities, including 'Horsing Around' with Rhubarb Theatre, making a new portable horse mural with graffiti artists lmageskool (creators of Horncastle's new mural on Lawrence Street), a mini vintage carousel, music, Morris Dancers and more!

On Saturday 12 August Evening 7pm to 9pm the event will continue with a specially commissioned short creative film and light installation by artist William Lindley shown on a loop in the Lion Theatre, a montage of historical horse fair images on a loop inside St Mary's Church and a horse puppet that you

can meet on the street, accompanied by workshop participants with their horse hats and flags who will set off from the Community Centre.

Horncastle Lions have also organised a firework display that will take place near the football pitch at 9pm, adding some extra sparkle, once the Horse Fair event has drawn to a close.

Ian Marshman from the Horncastle History & Heritage Society one of the organising partners of the whole event said "The Horse Fair was part of Horncastle's history every August for centuries, and really put the town on the map. With the 75th anniversary of the final Horse Fair this year we wanted to do something to celebrate all that history. We hope all the events planned will give people a reason to visit Horncastle this summer."

The Horse Fair celebrations have been made possible with funding from the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund and are part of a two-year programme being delivered by Spilsby Sessions House, who have secured the funding to support a range of creative projects in East Lindsey. Spilsby Sessions House is working with Different Light, a Lincolnshire collective of artists, producers and technicians, to deliver the Horse Fair project, together with key partners Horncastle History & Heritage Society, Horncastle Town Council and local volunteers. Some additional funding has also come from East Lindsey District Council's Vital & Viable Market Towns programme.

Bruce Knight, Arts Director at Spilsby Sessions House is a key member of the team behind not just the Horse Fair Celebration, but also Spilsby Light Night, Festive Fabuloso and many other local creative projects. "We are really pleased to be able to support the wider East Lindsey community and particularly Horncastle Heritage & History Society who have been the driving force behind the Horse Fair project. This year's celebrations are an exciting beginning, that will bring together both the community and the talents of local artists to mark this very special anniversary. We already know that we will be able to deliver something similar next year. Our hope is that ultimately, the Horncastle Horse Fair will become an annual summer event for the town, attracting visitors from near and far, just as the original event once did."

The Full Horse Fair Celebration Timetable


6 July to 30 September

  • Horncastle Horse Fair exhibition at the Joseph Banks Centre


22 July to 3 September

  • Community made Horncastle Horse Fair Window Trail in 40 shopfronts around the town


Saturday 5 August, 9am to 3pm

  • Free drop-in graffiti session at Horncastle Market led by James from lmageskool who did the amazing artwork on the public toilets on Lawrence Street.


Monday 7 - Saturday 12 August, 10am to 4pm

  • Lumo Workshop drop-in arts & crafts sessions every day in the Community Centre. Members of the public will be able to pop in for a few minutes (or a few hours) to make horse hats and flags, or just to chat to the artists and watch them making the bigger horse puppet.

Groups can be booked in too - just email simon@mrholly.co.uk


Wednesday 9 August, 7pm

  • Warhorse free film screening at Stanhope Hall - introduced by Joe Richardson, a West End actor and puppeteer who is originally from Horncastle and who worked on the National Theatre's production of War Horse.


Thursday 10 August, 11am

  • Horncastle Horse Fair Guided Walk. Meet at the Joseph Banks Centre. No need to book, just turn up


Friday 11 August

  • Horse Race raising funds for the Friends of St Mary's Church. 7pm for 7.30pm at the Community Centre.


Saturday 12 August

DAY 9am - 3pm, in the Market place

  • All your market favourites plus extra craft stalls in the Market Place, with hands-on creative activities for families, some with a horsey theme
  • lmageskool create a new moveable Horse Fair mural+ drop-in and have a go
  • Rhubarb Theatre 'Horsing Around' with interactive games & street theatre
  • Miniature vintage carousel
  • Horncastle Art Group - open air sketching
  • Alford Morris Dancers plus other live music too!

EVENING 7pm - 9pm, around town

  • Community Centre at 7pm - meet at the community centre and bring your horse hats & flags made during the week. The new horse puppet will then make an appearance and together we will horse around town!
  • Lion Theatre - Especially commissioned creative film by artist William Lindley being shown on a loop inside the Lion Theatre with additional lighting and effects.
  • St Mary's Church - Montage of original Horse Fair images shown on a loop inside on a screen, with a soundtrack and some additional images and illuminations.

lmageskool community designed graffiti boards on display


Saturday 12 August, 9pm

  • Free fireworks at the Playing Fields at 9pm

For more information contact Simon Hollingworth, Creative Producer on 07795 416149 I simon@mrholly.co.uk

This project is part funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025.The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business and people and skills. For more information, visit http://www.gov.uk/.../uk-shared-prosperity-fundprospectus

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