Saturday, July 12, 2008

The highlight of the Bedford calendar - Bedford River Festival

One thing I love about Bedford is our real sense of community and that is never more wonderfully demonstrated than at our bi-annual River Festival. At one time Bedford was the most culturally diverse town in the country and we are still home to over 100 different people groups - a fact that is evident in the diversity of the festival.

This year will be the 30th anniversary of an event that started as a celebration of the Ouse becoming navigable from Bedford to the coast and is now second only to the Notting Hill Carnival as the biggest free festival in the country.

My first River Festival was 14 years ago. I remember it well, my son, 4 at the time, went round commenting that by the next River Festival I would be 41. Heavens, that seemed so old to us both then! There have been great years and not so great years, times when the event seemed to be losing its way, but this year looks like being exceptional. For anyone close enough to get to Bedford (and remember we are only 35 minutes from St Pancras) it is well worth a visit. I have to say the highlight of the weekend for me is always the parade of boats as it begins to get dark, all decorated and lit up - magical!

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