‘Tis the season for beaches, fun and fairgrounds. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than wandering through a traditional fair, smelling warm popcorn, hearing carousel music and laughter, all the while collecting as many prizes and cuddly toys as possible.
The great news is that you can replicate the feel of a traditional fair pretty much anywhere and for any occasion. You can take inspiration from the Spanish Ferias, German markets and fairs or, my personal favourite, the old-school, vintage British funfair.
There’s definitely a broad spectrum of possibilities and options if you choose this theme for a party or wedding, either going for a tame event with fair-inspired accents, or a full on mini-funfair with games, booths and candyfloss. There is however a happy medium.
The first thing you’d need for a funfair birthday party is the right venue. Choose outdoors whenever possible: a park or garden would be ideal. From there my advice is to go as old school and traditional as possible, but full of vibrant colours and detail. Invitations can be themed, with watercolour big tops or helter-skelters, or even as a giant ticket or fair coupon. Take inspiration from Willy Wonka: it might not be a chocolate factory but aim for the same whimsical and nostalgic aesthetic.
For décor, choose stripes, pastel colours and garlands of naked lightbulbs. String these between trees or over a seating area for maximum effect. Why not also include a few easy and classic fair games, such as a coconut shy and balloon darts, which can be complemented by charades to be played by you and your guests as the evening goes on. A photo-booth is always a crowd pleaser too, and you could have a painted carousel horse for guests to pose with.
When it comes to food and drink, it truly depends on the kind of event you’re hosting. If it’s a wedding or more formal, think of incorporating touches of fair food in traditional dishes, such as a candyfloss-based dessert or using popcorn as garnish. If it’s a less formal gathering however, why not rent fair food stands and allow your guests to snack on sweets from vintage carts. For drinks, you can create a bar area serving nostalgic cocktails, incorporating once again candyfloss and sweets, milk, caramel and overall childhood flavours.
What I love about a theme like this is that it can work for any age and at any level, from the formal to the casual and intimate. So what are you waiting for? It’s time for you to throw a fairground party and feel like a child again.