A carousel horse at Ilkeston Fair.Ilkeston Charter Fair

The traditional 771st Ilkeston Charter fair takes place every October and is one of the oldest and largest street fairs in Europe. The 2023 event takes place from Wednesday 18 October –to Saturday 21 October 2023. Official opening Thursday 19th October.

Opening hours: Wednesday 18.00 hrs – 23.00hrs
Thursday 12.00 hrs – 23.00 hrs
Friday 12.00hrs – 23.00hrs
Saturday 12.00hrs – 23.00hrs 

Watch a video about Ilkeston Charter Fair on the council's Facebook page.

Over 700 years of history on your doorstep

A view of Ilkeston Charter Fair at night.For virtually an entire week, Ilkeston Town Centre is transformed into a vast fairground filled with colour, lights and action for this popular event.

Thousands of visitors come to enjoy the exciting and spectacular white-knuckle rides together with the more traditional side-shows.

The Charter was granted by King Henry III in 1252, making the fair older than Nottingham’s famous Goose Fair, and it remains one of the largest street fairs in Europe.

The King’s Charter begins: ‘Know ye that we have granted and by this our charter confirmed to our beloved and faithful Hugh son of Ralph, that he and his heirs for ever shall have free warren in all their demesne lands of Elkesdon.’

Dated the 10th of April 1252, the Charter was granted by the King to Hugh de Muskham and gives the lord of the manor and the townsfolk of Ilkeston – written back then as Elkesdon – the right to hold a market on Thursdays and an annual fair on the Assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary in August.

Initially, the fair would have been mainly a trading event but amusements and festivities were also associated with fairs on holy days. The start of hiring fairs dates back to the 14th Century with the passing of the Statute of Labourers in 1351 by Edward III.

Famous show families haven been a part of the fair’s history, including Samuel Taylor, the famous Ilkeston Giant, and John Albert Proctor. A strong relationship developed between the showmen and the local authorities and the event’s first civic opening was given in 1931. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, Erewash Borough Council has continued to develop the friendship and expand the fair.