Every 2 years there is a festival in Bedford celebrating the River Great Ouse that flows through the town. This festival has been going on in it’s current format since the 1970’s however I understand that it is rooted deeper in history however I don’t feel like investigating this at the moment.
The plan was that we would take our Widebeam and moor up on the river, taking part in the Narrowboat parade and benign a central point for friends and family to meet at however engine problems scuppered that plan, so we simply walked into town from the Marina.
The first thing that hit’s you is how busy it is. Seriously this is one of the countries biggest free festivals and so the flow of pedestrians carried you into the heart of it all very quickly. There were numerous stands for local groups and clubs, all showing what they bring to the town.
Also there were lots of items for sale. From the usual rubbish you find at such events like over priced balloons etc, to the beautiful hand made pieces that you can find on the Handmade in Bedfordshire market once a month. There were surprisingly few ‘boaty’ things available which since this was a river festival I would have though there may have been.
The Dragon Boat races, and Grand Parades of Narrowboats and Cruisers are pretty cool and if we had bothered to go back for the evening to see the lighted boat parade I’m sure this would have been something to see.
We had an amazing Bratwurst and Currywurst from a German Sausage stall, (if you ever get the chance to taste proper German Currywurst you seriously must!) and some Turkish delight from one of the many stalls selling such confectionery however apart from that there wasn’t much that inspired me to get my wallet out.
The music stages had a great variety of bands playing across the weekend which we could also hear from the Marina which was nice.
On the whole it seems that the event went off without too much trouble which is increasingly infrequent these days.
Once we got home my feet were killing me, so I sat on the Pontoon with a cold Diet Coke and a book and my feet in the water which was very relaxing. The small fish in the Marina come and nibble at your toes so you get a free fishy pedicure of sorts so this can’t be bad.
Though the festival was on for the whole weekend we didn’t feel the need to go in on the Sunday. Firstly because there was nothing on the program that inspired us apart from the grand parade which we had already missed by waking up at midday, (we are on Holiday so don’t judge us) and there was nothing of the river events that we wanted to see. However the highlight of the day was when the last remaining Lancaster Bomber flew low over the Marina on it’s way to the Festival. It circled a couple of times before flying off towards town so we got a great view.
So from our perspective it was a nice event to visit but also a nice quiet relaxing weekend on the Marina to chill. If you have the time to visit in 2016 I definitely recommend it and hopefully we will be on the river ourselves and happy to see you there.