On Friday we were invited down to Bath by Carters Steam Fair to visit their beautiful vintage funfair. If you've seen Rocketman (one of our faves), you'll recognize the retro rides from the Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting sequence!
Carters rolls into town in gorgeous authentic vintage trucks that made us think of a travelling circus, like Dumbo. We had some serious caravan envy, looking at the staff's "living wagon" accommodation! If that was an air bnb or a glamping site we would book in in a heartbeat!
What rides are at Carters Steam Fair?
There are rides for all ages, from adorable carousels for toddlers to funfair classics like chair-o-planes, swingboats and dodgems (the dodgems are currently at Somerset House, London, they will be back at Carters next stop, Maidenhead on August 27th). The Galloper Horses are achingly pretty - steam driven with that iconic jolly pipe organ music and elegant horses that date from the Victorian era - and there is a range of shooting galleries, test your strength games and hook a duck around the perimeter of the fair.
Everything is hand painted, lovingly restored with traditional fairground signwriting, and you can even book onto a guided Art and Heritage tour! More info here.
Our favourite rides were the 1955 Hurricane Jets (David was living his best Virgil Tracey life in his green rocketship) and the 1960s Lightning Skid - we went on this one twice. Not to be confused with a waltzer, the cars of the Lightning Skid rotate on levers around a central point, and you have a foot pedal to fling you 180 degrees across the floor at high speed - so much fun!
Hurricane Jets and the Lightning Skid
We really enjoyed the hook a duck - it's so sweet that everyone wins a prize, and our cuddly snake will take pride of place in the tropical themed interior of our van! We were also really impressed with the shooting galleries because they were honest - we've experienced them before where the gun is rigged against you, with crossed sights so you can't shoot straight, and that is so frustrating! But at Carters if you can aim, you can win! 4 out of 5 hits wins a prize, the rifle is accurate and the targets aren't stuck down. How it should be!
Shooting gallery and hook a duck stash!
Tickets and tokens
Carters Steam Fair is completely free to enter, you just buy tokens for the rides you want to go on. This means you can spend as long or short a time as you like, grandparents or tiny tots can watch family members on the bigger rides, and there are machines dotted around the site where you can buy more should you need. Tokens work out at 50p each, and rides cost between 5 and 6 tokens. It's worth noting you'll get the best value for money, including free bonus rides (!) if you book online in advance.
Keeping things Covid - safe
After being unable to tour since 2019, Carters have a number of steps in place to make your visit Covid safe without detracting from the fun. All the staff and ride operators wore masks, there were numerous hand sanitiser stations, rides were sufficiently spread out that you had plenty of space to move around without being too close to other parties.
What about food?
There are a number of concessions stands selling funfair staples of candyfloss and hot doughnuts, plus hot drinks.
To sum up, a day at Carters Steam Fair is colourful, wholesome, beautiful and fun! It makes for some really special memories, and a chance to experience and get up close to some fascinating good old fashioned rides.
To find out where the nearest stop on the tour is for you check Carters website here - they're in Bath until August 22nd before moving on to Maidenhead.
Disclosure - we were invited to attend Carters Steam Fair in Bath and gifted free rides in return for a blog and social media posts, but as always our words are our own and the review is honest!