Municipalities in Spain make the fair ‘silent’ so that all children can enjoy

by Lorraine Williamson
low stimulus feria times

Allowing all children to enjoy the fair is largely possible by making a fair ‘low-stimulus’. Especially for children who process stimuli differently, the sound and light are being temporarily scaled down at more and more fairgrounds, including in the Basque Country. 

Blinking disco lights, music, balloons, cotton candy and popcorn are often the ingredients that make a funfair a success. However, this is not always fun for all children. The booming music and countless lights often prevent children with a certain sensory processing disorder, such as autistic or highly sensitive children, from enjoying the attractions. 

Basque municipality of Irun also opts for a ‘silent fair’ 

Precisely for this reason, the municipality of Irun (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) has chosen to run the fair, set up this week at San Marcials, silently and without lights for a few hours a day. In the case of Irun, this will be done daily from 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm. Moreover, at these times, children who cannot tolerate all the noise and light can also enjoy a few hours of funfair. 

Low-stimulus funfair not new in Europe 

Furthermore, Irun is not the first place in Spain to take this initiative. Other cities in the Basque Country, such as Donostia, Azpeitia, Arrasate and Bilbao, have already implemented this measure. But Seville has also been offering a sound and light-free fair to their small customers for about 5 years. In other countries, such as the Netherlands, the fair is also ‘low-stimulus’ at fixed times during the day. 

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What does a low-stimulus fair look like? 

A low-stimulus fair is an event designed specifically for people with hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as those with autism, ADHD, or other conditions that cause sensitivity to crowds, loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells. The goal of a low-stimulus carnival is to create an environment that is less overwhelming and better suited to the needs of people with these types of sensitivities. 

In a low-stimulus fair, noise is kept to a minimum, the lights are dimmed. Consequently, this also ensures it is less crowded. Furthermore, some attractions are adjusted and, for example, go slower, and sometimes special areas are even set up where children can play, or withdraw to if they do feel overwhelmed. 

Also read: Fiestas, ferias, and celebrations in Spain 2023

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