Weekend of fun on the riverside - Bedford River Festival 2014

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The riverside in Bedford will host the region’s biggest free festival this weekend as thousands are expected to visit the town.

Bedford River Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20, along The Embankment and Russell Park as well as on the riverside meadows with a full programme for all ages.

This year promises plenty of new attractions to keep everyone entertained as well as the return of the traditional favourites.

The parade, which has previously marked the beginning of the Festival on Saturday, 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.

Dragon boat racing starts at 11.30am on Saturday, with the final at 7pm.

Also taking to the skies on Sunday evening will be the famous Red Arrows, the RAF Aerobatic Team!

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.

The 2014 River Festival is also expected to have a much bigger social media presence. Followers of @bedfordtweets have already chosen the hashtag for this year’s festival as #BedRiverFest so if you’re on Twitter, be sure to keep an eye out and get involved. The Bedford River Festival started in 1978 to celebrate the town’s river link to the sea and has been held every two years since.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “The Bedford River Festival is one of the largest free festivals in the UK and regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people of all ages down to the beautiful River Great Ouse.

“The festival attracts visitors from across the country and even further afield, and we are always looking at ways we can improve the weekend. We hope that this year’s event will be even better than ever, and are encouraging everyone to come along and enjoy the unique River Festival atmosphere.”

Full programme and details of all times at: http://www.bedfordcornexchange.co.uk/outdoorevents/documents/RF2014-web-programme-COMPLETE_000.pdf

>> More on entertainments in this week’s leisure section.