The Barnstaple Fair is an occasion of celebration, the fair is an annual event that starts on the Wednesday before the 20th September, before the fair is opened there is an ancient ceremony held at the Guildhall in the centre of Barnstaple.
The ceremonial opening of the fair survives from ancient times. The Town Council meets in the Guildhall, where various toasts are honoured with spiced ale which, according to tradition, is made from a jealously guarded recipe handed down from generation to generation. Whilst the toasts are being honoured, "fairings", (a form of sweetmeat) is handed around.
On the reading of the Proclamation, a large stuffed white gloved hand garlanded with flowers is hung from a window of the Guildhall. The gloved hand represents the hand of friendship and the hand of welcome to the thousands that come to the fair. At 12 noon, a civic procession forms at the entrance to the Guildhall and the proclamation is read.
The fair is in Barnstaple for four days including Saturday. On Saturday afternoon a colourful carnival is held, the carnival starts at 6pm and makes its way through the town centre, after the carnival a firework extravagance is held to signal the final night of the fair.