Thousands of visitors have splashing time at 20th biennial Bedford River Festival

Bedford River Festival | Pics: June Essex
Bedford River Festival | Pics: June Essex

Thousands of people visited Bedford, many for the first time, for the 20th biennial River Festival.

The first festival was held 40 years ago and every two years since with the scorching weekend of July 14th and 15th being a winner.

Love Bedford director Christina Rowe said: “All credit to the events team at Bedford Borough Council, their many partners, sponsors and the public for making this such a fantastic event.

“At BedfordBID our mission was to make sure that this huge marketing opportunity was accessed by town centre businesses and our Little Book of Offers did just that with 5,000 being snapped up by people who will then be encouraged to keep coming back all summer long to take advantage of the discounts.

“We also launched our free draw to win a trip to New York thanks to one of our independent businesses Global Travel Experts. This promotion will run all through August like the offers and will draw people into our lovebedford.co.uk and social media platforms.”

BedfordBID supported the John Bunyan Boat by giving them goodie bags containing £5 Love Bedford gift vouchers for those taking a river trip. More bags were given out at the Love Bedford stand in Russell Park bringing the total to 1,000. Said Christina: “Redemptions on these vouchers given out at the last River Festival were very high meaning people took the trouble to come back to town which is what we want them to do. They come for the free festival, we want them to keep coming back to the town centre all summer long.”

BID zone businesses who made the most of River Festival included

>The Harpur Centre which sponsored the main stage and hosted a marquee for their centre shops like Specsavers

> McDonald’s on the High Street who reported their “busiest day ever”

> Michael R Peters who came down from Tavistock Street to run a charity stall in aid of Bedford Hospital, with the prize being a fantastic fridge/freezer

> The Flute had no less than three bars selling Pimms and more to thirsty visitors.

> The Bedford Swan Hotel extended their terrace in to a San Miguel bar and hog roast marquee.

> Baby and Play secured a prime spot and gave away Love Bedford “lost children” wristbands.

> Secret Garden from St Cuthbert’s Arcade made it on Sunday to give away balloons to their target audience

> The new Riverside cinema, bars and restaurants complex did a roaring trade with many of the 100,000s visiting the location for the first time since it opened in September 2017.

Pictured is the Love Bedford team in action in Russell Park.

Other pictures by June Essex.