Entries open for 40th anniversary of Bedford River Festival dragon boat race

Bedford River Festival is pushing the boat out for its 40th anniversary with entries now open for the dragon boat race and carnival parade.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27th February 2018, 11:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th February 2018, 11:54 am

First held in 1978, the 20th bi-ennial River Festival will take place on July July 14 & 15.

Now recognised as one of the largest outdoor events of its kind in the UK, the 2016 festival attracted more than 250,000 visitors who enjoyed the unique mix of carnival, music and nautical. This year’s River Festival promises to be even more popular with the event celebrating its 40th birthday.

Building on the success of previous events, the dragon boats return for the 2018 River Festival and entries are now being accepted. Over twenty crews are expected to battle it out, on Saturday 14th July, over an exciting new 200 metre course along the picturesque River Ouse flanked on the south side by St Mary’s Gardens and the new Bedford Riverside Development on the Northside. This is a superb venue for the racing and a fantastic day is guaranteed with bankside entertainment, music, food and activities for the whole family.

Ten people paddle each boat, with a drummer at the front and a helm at the tail steering. No previous experience is required just plenty of team spirit! Teams can be mixed (minimum of 7 females in mixed team); all female or all male and organisations can enter more than one crew. It is recommended that each team comprises a minimum of 16 members and each boat will race at least 3 times. Crew members must be 16 or over and all crew members must be able to swim in light clothing, in moving water and compete entirely at their own risk. Qualified helms, buoyancy aids and water safety cover are provided by the organisers.

New features for this year’s Festival include St Mary’s Garden which will showcase local arts and crafts, an acoustic stage, giant games arena, boating, bar and catering. In addition, 2018 marks the end of the World War I and the Heritage Village will be commemorating this by showcasing all aspects of the war with over 50 re-enactors, displays and demonstrations.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “It is fantastic to be celebrating 40 years of the River Festival. The Dragon Boat racing is an essential element of the Festival, bringing colour and excitement.I look forward to seeing the crowds supporting all of the teams.”

Applications for participation in the Dragon Boat races, raft races and Carnival Parade are now open, as are opportunities for businesses to get involved through sponsorship or trade stands. For information about getting involved email [email protected]