Thousands enjoy first day of Bedford River Festival - the parade a boats a highlight during the afternoon

Bedford River Festival parade of boats.
Bedford River Festival parade of boats.

Thousands of people have enjoyed the first day of Bedford River Festival in the sunshine.

The riverside is hosting the region’s biggest free festival which continues this evening with a superb line-up of bands.

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson on the parade of boats the river festival.

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson on the parade of boats the river festival.

Among a fantastic array of fun attractions, river events and stalls, visitors could watch the first dragon boat racing heats and a wonderful parade of boats.

Beaming to the crowds lining the Embankment, Mayor Bedford Dave Hodgson was a passenger on one the first of the boats to wow the spectactors.

Beautifully decorated boats included themes of The Beatles, The Snowman and even a ‘performing gorilla’!

Bedford River Festival continues on Sunday, July 20, with events along The Embankment and Russell Park as well as on the riverside meadows with a full programme for all ages.

Bedford River Festival.

Bedford River Festival.

Sunday sees the parade, which previously marked the beginning of the Festival on Saturday. It has been moved to Sunday starting at noon. It is expected this will help to create a bigger and better parade as businesses have said more of their lorries will be available to be used as floats.

It should also reduce the impact of closing the High Street on businesses and shoppers on what is usually their busiest day of the week.

The Heritage Village includes a World War One Commemoration Village on top of Castle Mound, with a range of activities and events to recognise 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

Jet Boots Bob will also be performing on the river itself on Saturday and Sunday, with shows throughout the day.

The John Bunyan, Bedford’s Community Boat, will be busy too. As well as the venue for the Mayor’s civic receptions alongside the Embankment, the boat will also lead the illuminated boat flotilla on Saturday evening.

On Sunday evening the boat will be open to the public and will run 30-minute cruises along the Embankment from the Victorian Suspension Bridge to the County Bridge and return, and there will also be a sunset cruise leaving the Victorian Suspension Bridge at 8pm.

Full programme and details of all times at: