Issue date: 16 July 2018
One hundred boats will cruise to the Great Ouse this summer to join IWA’s campaign focused Festival of Water in St Neots. Taking place on the beautiful, riverside Regatta Meadow over the August Bank Holiday weekend (25th to 27th August 2018) the event will promote the economic, social and wellbeing potential offered by two new waterways – between Bedford and Milton Keynes linking the Grand Union Canal to the river Great Ouse through a series of waterway parks and the Fens Waterways Link connecting the River Witham from Boston to the River Nene in Peterborough. The festival will also highlight IWA’s view that the Environment Agency, which manages the navigable waterways in Anglian Region, needs more funding.
Daily admission to the festival and parking are free, and with the excellent range of entertainment and other attractions visitors could easily plan to spend the day if not longer. Campsite pitches are still available for those who might want to stay for the full weekend.
Decked in their festival bunting and flags, cruisers, narrowboats and historic narrowboats will be joined by the Environment Agency’s patrol boats for visitors to view from the riverbank. Anyone who wishes to get afloat can take a trip on the John Bunyan, provided by Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust or they can have a go at canoeing or paddleboarding with Action4Youth. A selection of vintage buses and classic cars, a fun dog show on Sunday, birds of prey, an air cadet marching band on Saturday, an illuminated boat parade on the Sunday evening followed by a fireworks display organised by the town council, mean visitors for the day or weekend will have plenty to interest them. When it’s time to relax visitors can grab a bite to eat and a drink from the real ale bar and be entertained with live music and dance.
In the lead up to the Festival local primary aged children are encouraged to have a go at the River Trail passport. Lots of St Neots’ retailers are taking part, asking children to spot the waterways sights they would experience if travelling by boat to the Festival. Children follow the trail around the town and complete the passport at the Festival to earn a reward.
Mayor of St Neots, Cllr Barry Chapman said “I am delighted that St Neots has been selected to host this year’s Festival of Water on Regatta Meadow and the town council is proud to be sponsoring the Entertainment throughout the Festival as well as the Firework Display on Sunday evening. The sight of 100 boats moored on our local river and the opportunity to see so many bands and entertainers, several of them from the area, make great reasons to stay local to St Neots this coming August bank holiday weekend.”
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Additional information about attractions and entertainment over the weekend
Camping for the weekend costs just £30 and includes wristband access to the evening entertainment. Boat moorings are now all sold although you do not need to be booked into the festival to take part in the Illuminated Boat Parade on Sunday evening.
Entertainment runs throughout all three days from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and 10am to 4pm on Monday, and on into the evening for boaters and campers.
Land based attractions over the weekend include: a collection of classic cars and vintage buses and a host of craft stalls. Children’s entertainment includes funfair rides, water zorbing, helter skelter, Carz of Fun, birds of prey, the chance to drive a digger or build a wall with IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group.
Water based attractions over the weekend include: have a go at canoeing and paddle boarding with Action4Youth. For those that prefer to relax on the water, Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust will be running boat trips on The John Bunyan on Sunday and Monday. Keep an eye out for the Boat Handling competition throughout the weekend or come along on Sunday evening for the illuminated Boat Display and firework display.
Musical entertainment is to be provided by both local and nationally renowned artists and the entertainment programme is brought to visitors in association with St Neots Town Council. Entertainers include: Ouse Valley Jazz, Pennyless Folk, Panic Steel Band, Sunnyside Jazz, Phil Underwood and Braunston Pickle. Chucklefoot, the one man band and family entertainer, will be on site all weekend. On Saturday the Air Cadet Marching Band will be playing throughout the day.
Children’s River Trail Passport: In the lead up to the Festival local children are encouraged to have a go at the river trail around St Neots. Several local, independent retailers and outlets are participating. Children follow the trail to see the natural and constructed sites a boater might spot as they cruise the river to the Festival. They fill in the passport and bring it to the Festival where they complete the last few clues and hand it in at the WOW tent to earn their reward.