A POPULAR annual event in Downton which first began in 1530 has been cancelled for 2024. 

The Downton Cuckoo Fair’s board of directors released a statement on their website confirming that the event will not take place next year.  

With significant additional costs for 2024, inflation and an ongoing difficult economic situation, the board decided the event is untenable for 2024.

The first fair was recorded in Downton in 1530 when a cuckoo was let into the village. The Cuckoo Fair continued to be held until just after the First World War. It was then resurrected in 1979 to mark the arrival of the cuckoo. 

Salisbury Journal: Downton Cuckoo FairDownton Cuckoo Fair (Image: Derek Maidment)Read more: Downton Cuckoo Fair 2022 in Pictures

Now a spokesperson for the Cuckoo Fair said: "The size and increasing popularity of the Fair means that it cannot continue to operate in the same way or with the same small team of existing volunteers. We work tirelessly to make it happen but are a group, like many other volunteer groups, who are getting older.

"Sadly, the reality is that it would be financially and organisationally challenging for us to run the event in 2024 and cancellation is our only option."

Salisbury Journal: Downton Cuckoo FairDownton Cuckoo Fair (Image: Derek Maidment)Read more: Salisbury has so much to offer

The Cuckoo Fair is non-profit making and run entirely by local volunteers who aim to create a fun village event. 

Information on the event’s website stated, ‘subsequently things have changed with the departure of some key experienced members of the core team, including our health and safety lead, for reasons of health, work or family commitments.’

Salisbury Journal: Downton Cuckoo FairDownton Cuckoo Fair (Image: Newsquest)

To organise the fair, there is a lead-in time of seven months and the team has to produce and update an event management plan of more than 70 pages. The event's financial accounts confirm the event is around the break-even point. As an unticketed event, revenue does not increase with growing visitor numbers.


The website statement concluded that ‘going forward, more positive support from all parts of the community is needed including a willingness to engage with or be a part of the events team.’