Appleby Horse Fair officially opened with a drizzly start today as thousands of caravans, trailers and visitors descended on Fair Hill for a weekend of festivities.

Horses that had made the long journey from homes the length and breadth of the country were rested in the long grass of the hillsides while others were paraded up and down in front of potential buyers.

Arrivals started yesterday with one field being available to bow-tops from 5 pm and the rest opening this morning at 4am.

Police said there had been some congestion in the town centre early this morning which was quickly resolved.

Up to 3,000 caravans and 10,000 travellers are expected at the fair over the weekend, as well as 30,000 visitors.

Traveller Billy Riley, 67, had made the journey to Appleby with a friend from Boston in Lincolnshire. He said he was expecting a good weekend ‘as always’, and that he was most looking forward to meeting up with friends.

“I’ve left my horses at home but I’ve brought a harness to sell,” he said. “I enjoy going down to the town in the evenings, singing songs with the lads around the campfire. I love coming up here. This is the same way of life as my father and grandfather had.”

Tamlyn Smith, 17, has been to the fair for the last few years with her boyfriend. They had come across from Newcastle in a caravan pulled by horse Big John.

She said: “I enjoy the shopping here, and it is nice to see all the horses.”

The Lawty family - Rob, Tracy and Abigail visiting from Scarborough, have been attending the fair for a decade. They said they enjoy the traditions involved, and seeing all the horses.

Rob said: “A few years ago there weren’t so many of the traditional green caravans but they seem to have been building more and there are lots here again. We like the idea of the much slower pace of life.”

One traveller had left Cornwall in April to make it to the event in his handmade and intricately decorated caravan.

Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, who is leading the policing operation of the fair, said: “Appleby is attracting a lot of people with families who have come to enjoy the event this weekend. So far there was only one minor issue of congestion in the town this morning. Our aim is for everyone to enjoy a safe, family friendly event.”

Chairman of the MASCG, managing the fair, Robin Hooper, said: “Things are going very well and all the planning assisted everyone in making sure things run smoothly and any problems are quickly resolved. We hope this continues throughout the fair and everyone enjoys the event.”

Anyone planning on visiting the fair is advised to take extra time for their journey and be aware of the fast moving horses in the area.