New Age travellers / Crusties
Vehicles used by New Age travellers
Regions with significant populations
United Kingdom
New Age

New Age Travellers (not completely synonymous with but otherwise shortened as New Travellers[1]) are people located primarily in the United Kingdom generally espousing New Age beliefs with hippie / Bohemian culture of the 1960s. New Age Travellers were often referred to as crusties or gutter punks and used to travel between free music festivals and fairs prior to crackdown in the 1990s. New Traveller also refers to those who are not traditionally of an ethnic nomadic group but who have chosen to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.[2]

A New Traveller's transport and home may consist of living in a van, vardo, lorry, bus, car or caravan converted into a mobile home while also making use of an improvised bender tent, tipi or yurt. "New Age" travellers largely originated in 1980s and early 1990s Britain,[3] when they were described as "crusties" because of the association with "encrusted dirt, dirt as a deliberate embrace of grotesquerie, a statement of resistance against society, proof of nomadic hardship."[4]



The movement originated in the free festivals of the 1960s and 1970s[5] such as the Windsor Free Festival, the early Glastonbury Festivals, Elephant Fayres, and the huge Stonehenge Free Festivals in Great Britain. However, there were longstanding precedents for travelling cultures in Great Britain, including travelling pilgrims, itinerant journeymen and traders, as well as Romani groups and others.[6]

Peace convoy

See also: Battle of the Beanfield

In the UK during the 1980s the travellers' mobile homes—generally old vans, trucks and buses (including double-deckers)—moved in convoys. One group of travellers came to be known as the Peace Convoy after visits to Peace camps associated with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).[5] The movement had faced significant opposition from the British government and from mainstream media, epitomised by the authorities' attempts to prevent the Stonehenge Free Festival, and the resultant Battle of the Beanfield in 1985—resulting in what was, according to The Guardian, one of the largest mass arrests of civilians since at least the Second World War,[7] possibly one of the biggest in English legal history.[8]

In 1986 and later years police again blocked travellers from "taking the Stones" on the Summer Solstice. This led Travellers to spend summers squatting by the hundreds on several sites adjacent to the A303 in Wiltshire.

Later events included the Castlemorton Common Festival, a huge free and unlicensed event which attracted widespread media coverage and prompted government action. Some legal festivals, such as WOMAD, continue to take place in a variety of countries, including the UK.

Outside the UK

Following the crackdowns against aspects of New Age Traveller culture and the free festivals, some ceased travelling altogether and others headed to continental Europe to pursue continuance of the lifestyle.

A North American counterpart to the UK-based New Age Travellers and former free festivals, is the Rainbow Family which was formed around 1970 and which hosts annual Rainbow Gatherings.

Meanwhile, housetruckers in New Zealand have maintained an alternative, "hippie nomad" lifestyle.


  1. ^ Frediani, Marcelo (18 December 2017). "On the road: New Travellers and their radical need for space". Espaces et Sociétés. 171 (4): 73–89. doi:10.3917/esp.171.0073.
  2. ^ "Example Definitions of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK".
  3. ^ "New Age Travellers - a traveller lifestyle and subculture in Britain".
  4. ^ Fox, Dan (3 April 2018). "24-Hour Party People: How Britain's New Age Traveler movement defined a zeitgeist". World Policy Journal. 35 (1): 3–9. doi:10.1215/07402775-6894684. ISSN 1936-0924. S2CID 158322983.
  5. ^ a b "New Travellers, Old Story" (PDF). The Children's Society. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  6. ^ Ivakhiv, Adrian (2001). Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona. Indiana University Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-253-33899-9.
  7. ^ "What happened next?". the Guardian. 2004-02-22. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  8. ^ Stuart Maconie (2014). The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records. Ebury Press. pp. 356–. ISBN 978-0-09-193380-7.


Further reading and external links