The Real Gypsy Fair

Long before "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" young Gypsy & Travellers create a TV documentary about their culture.

  • Type
    Documentary / Workshop
  • Year
    2006 - 2007

In 2006, Noise teaches a group of 15 young Romany Gypsy and Irish Travellers from West Yorkshire, how to record their life and culture for a TV documentary. The film produced and distributed by Urban Canyons for Noise Festival reveals some very traditional Gypsy values versus modern lifestyle trends, long before the more populist C4 series “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” hit the screens.

The film is set around the historic Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria. The fair is the oldest and biggest European gathering of Gypsy and Travellers. Every year, over 30,000 visitors descend on the sleepy Cumbrian town to meet their relatives and friends and still trade horses. The inspirational programme offers a greater understanding of the often discriminated community. The young filmmakers interview their older relatives, visit the Gypsy Lore Archive, meet famous Gypsy wedding dress designer Nico and seek the varying opinions of Appleby’s shopkeepers, councillors, the local police and young people about the annual mass influx of Gypsies and Travellers.

'Gypsy Fair could well become the definitive and enduring chronicle of the Appleby New Fair. Gathering, encompassing every aspect of the event and giving a genuine unbiased account of the attitudes of both those people who love it and those who hate it.'

Cumberland and Westmorland Herald

The first screening of the film takes place in Appleby, in June 2007, just a few days before the annual fair starts. The event is attended by the young filmmakers and their families and members of the local community. The screening was a chance to get rid of stereotypes, and gave a better idea of why Gypsy and Travellers converge on their town every year.

NOISE enables the young Gypsies and Travellers filmmakers to gain an Arts Award accreditation for their work. The recognised qualification comparative to a GSCE is presented to one of the filmmakers by Chancellor Alistair Darling when he visited the NOISE office in Manchester.

'The quality of the film and project was of a high standard. The adviser had worked hard in supporting a challenging and diverse group on a major piece of heritage themed work.'

Buzz Bury, Arts Award Moderator


Screened on Teachers TV, Community Channel and Horse and Country TV. Over 80,000 views on YouTube.

Copies have been bought by police forces, local councils and schools across the country.

Buy it!

Get your own DVD of ‘The Real Gypsy Fair’ at the NOISE online store here

'Documentaries of the Gypsy and Traveller communities have been filmed before, but rarely by the young people from within the community. This project enables young Gypsies to create a record of their culture from their own point of view. Their participation helped them to gain new skills, which they can pass onto their peers for the benefit of the community.' CEO Denise Proctor

'By taking part in this project, I can use a camera and interview people better. So much work has gone into making this film, and we are very proud of what we have made.'

Teresa Birtle, Young Filmmaker 

supported by
Heritage Lottery Film Logo     Leeds Gyspy and Traveller exchange