History & Background

The Traquair Fair was founded in 1976 as a Craft Fair to support the newly created resident craft community at Traquair House. It gradually grew over the years to incorporate theatre, music and children’s events. Taking place in the first weekend of August the Fair also became ideally placed to highlight performers and artists on their way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

By the mid 1980’s the Fair was described by the Scottish Tourist Board as the “most successful event in the Scottish Borders” and numbers climbed to almost 8,000. However, the event also become increasingly music orientated and despite attracting performances from KD Laing, Hank Wangford and the Battlefield Band the pressure of numbers took its toll on the historic grounds and the Fair was given a three year break.

In 1990, the Fair was restarted by Catherine Maxwell Stuart and the focus was more on family entertainment and high quality theatre as well as retaining an acoustic stage. The aim was to achieve around 6,000 visitors over the weekend and this was quickly achieved. The event has been carefully managed so as not to let the event get too large.

The programme of events has continually expanded and new elements added such as a large complementry therapy area, an artists area, a classical garden and a children’s puppet procession. There have been collaborations with community arts projects and circus workshops in the week preceding the event.

In the 21st century the Fair began to take on themes that led to new collaborations and new audiences. In 2001 the Fair had a Japanese theme and was part of the national Japan 2001 festival. This was followed by Indian, African and Latin American themes and in 2005 there was a theme of “Hidden World Cultures”.

Most recently, Catherine and her husband Mark Muller QC have developed a broader programme of events at Traquair and at the Edinburgh Festival under the banner of Beyond Borders of which Traquair Fair is part. The initiative is dedicated to facilitating small nation dialogues and cultural exchange by using Scotland’s own heritage. For more information see http://www.beyondbordersscotland.com/

The Traquair Fair has been supported by Event Scotland in 2010 and 2011 which has also enabled the further development of the event through a Visual Arts tent, a Children’s Book Tent and in 2011 a new Family Camp Site.