Galleries: Thousands enjoy weekend events in the sunshine

SOARING temperatures and bright sunshine shone across Suffolk and Essex at the weekend as the counties bathed in the hottest weather for four years.

The mercury topped a sweltering 32C in various places around the region, the highest temperatures recorded since July, 2006, according to weatherman Ken Blowers.

Thousands of sunseekers took advantage of the glorious weather visiting dozens of events held across Suffolk and Essex.

In Ipswich thousands of music fans enjoyed the sights and sounds of one of the world’s greatest orchestras as they brought the most popular classics to Suffolk on Saturday night.

Christchurch Park was packed on a perfect evening for picnics, Pimms and the Royal Philharmonic added a wonderful accompaniment to the evening.

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The first half of the evening was largely devoted to operatic favourites including the Laughing Song from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Les Toreadors from Bizet’s Carmen.

But the highlights were Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre which had youngsters dancing around the Christchurch Park hill and the finale – the last five minutes of Tchaikowsky’s 1812 overture complete with the first fireworks of the evening.

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Meanwhile, near Bury St Edmunds, one Suffolk village moved to challenge Newmarket’s reputation as the home of British Horse Racing.

Showcasing a less usual form of racing on Saturday, involving sheep, the Six Bells pub at Felsham hosted its second charity sheep racing event which this time included jumps.

Five sheep lined up to take part in the day’s activities, which also included a barbecue and car boot sale.

Cash raised will go to St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds.

And the doors of a Suffolk fire station were also opened to the public as part of a drive to boost environmental awareness.

The idea of firefighter Paul Turner, Saturday’s Eco Fair was held at Bury St Edmunds fire station and featured tours of the firefighters’ wildlife habitat behind the Parkway station.

In Felixstowe mock dogfights and daring aerobatics were enjoyed by thousands of people on the seafront as the resort marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

People lined the clifftops and sat on the beach in the sunshine as planes new and old took part in the 45-minute display with a series of flypasts, loops and rolls.

Meanwhile, at Martlesham on Saturday thousands flocked for fun and frolics at a Music on the Green, helping to raise money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) which cares for children with life-threatening conditions.

At Pebmarsh in Essex, people enjoyed a Billy Cart Race raising money for Breast Cancer Care, Pebmarsh School’s parent-teacher association and local animal centres.

Despite the great weather, the dry spell, which has blighted farmers and gardens for the last three months, is set to come to an end this week as more unsettled weather returns.

Mr Blowers said: “The heatwave has been going on for 18 days now without a break, but that is about to come to an end.

“We are moving into a much more changeable weather pattern.”

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