Monday, 18 April 2016

All the fun of the fair!

And it's right on my doorstep!

My former home town of Kirkcaldy in the Ancient Kingdom of Fife on Scotland's east coast plays host every year to the longest street fair in Europe and the oldest in Scotland. Known as the ''Lang Toun'' Kirkcaldy, and its neighbouring burgh, Dysart, stretch for more than three miles along the shoreline of the Firth of Forth, just north of Edinburgh and the annual Links Market occupies nearly a mile of The Esplanade, the dual-carriageway road which runs along the sea front of Kirkcaldy (see on map).

Commemorative plaque denoting the site of the Links Market
As you can see from the Kirkcaldy Civic Society plaque shown here there has been some kind of market on this site for 712 years - beginning some 188 years before Christopher Columbus ''discovered'' America! (By the way, the Scots word ''links'' refers to a sandy beach - which is why some Scottish golf courses are called ''links courses'' - because they are sited on sandy dune beaches).

The Market takes place around Easter time and lasts for six days (always from a Wednesday afternoon to the following Monday evening) but because it is so big it takes several days beforehand and afterwards to erect and dismantle all the attractions meaning that The Esplanade is cordoned off for almost two weeks. You can imagine the disruption this causes to residents and traffic - The Esplanade is a major through route for traffic using the coast road to travel between the many villages and small towns in this part of Scotland - but everybody seems to take it in their stride with good grace.

Diversion signs and road cones on The Esplanade

It is the first fair of the season in the Showman's calendar and The Market is a major social event especially with the younger generation but even old fogies like me and Mrs Kasman will take a walk through and marvel at the attractions on offer many of which seem rather wild to us and not at all like the more gentle fairground rides of our youth (dodgems were about my limit!). Over the course of the Market about a quarter of a million people will visit and the whole town can get very busy especially on Friday and Saturday with many minor roads near The Esplanade being restricted to residents only or closed altogether.

When it first started all those years ago no doubt it was a ''proper'' market selling livestock and produce and such but there were probably itinerant entertainers - conjurers, jugglers, bards, etc. - who made the market into an entertainment event for all and it stayed that way for centuries until the 18th century when the first ''rides'' appeared such as roundabouts (carousels) driven by ponies. Steam powered rides soon came along and electricity was introduced and the Market began to look less like a market and more like the fairground it is today - a cacophony of lights, loud music and screams!


A car park next to a busy road

Two big trucks and their cargo

A crane lifting a large metal girder into position on a fairground ride

Mobile homes parked on a grassy area near a main road

A mobile stall selling hot food

The Esplanade, Kirkcaldy and the Links Market


Kirkcaldy Links Market

Clouds above the Links Market

Two people high up on a fairground ride

A carousel with children riding on it

A big wheel at the fairground


This has just got to be the scariest fairground ride in the whole Links Market history. The ride lasts just under three minutes and it must be a looong three minutes for those brave enough to try it out. Just in case you are wondering, no, I didn't go on it! Watch this short video and ask yourself if you would you try it?

This years' funfair has just finished and all the attractions now move on to other fairgrounds throughout Scotland but they'll all gather together again next year for another annual Links Market and Kirkcaldy will be ready to welcome them once more!

 All photos and the short video clip by the author.


  1. I bet that would be a lot of fun to attend. It looks like it.

    1. Mrs Kasman and I always take a walk through the Market but it's been years since we actually went on any of the rides.

  2. So are there still vendors, or is it more for the rides and such now?

    We've just recently learned that the carnival will not be coming to our region at all this year, which I'm sure is going to leave a lot of kids disappointed. I don't mind too much, but I do miss the sidewalk sale we used to have when we lived in the Montreal area. It stretched almost from one end of our borough to the other, and there were always good sales on everything :)

    1. Up until about 10 years ago there were still vendors at the Market selling all manner of trashy goods but today the Links Market is really just rides and food stalls.

  3. Enjoyed this thank you for sharing

  4. That looks like good fun. Sharing it, so my Scottish relations can read and maybe attend next year. :)

    1. It's great fun for the younger generation but us oldies should only watch!

  5. Great photos Bill and a feeling like I'm there. I've always wanted to visit Scotland and your posts make want to make it sooner!

    1. Come on over - you will be made most welcome!

  6. We have the fair here also! And we have the little pop up carnival here to :) Love all the photos.

  7. It looks like lots of fun. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pitures.

    1. We had fun there and all we did was take a walk through!