Military festival 'to be biggest ever'

DETAILS of the Colchester Military Festival have been unveiled with Army bosses pledging it will be the biggest one ever.

James Hore

DETAILS of the Colchester Military Festival have been unveiled with Army bosses pledging it will be the biggest one ever.

The Ministry of Defence has officially upgraded next month's spectacular at Abbey Field to a grade-one event, meaning there will be an “unprecedented” number of military displays.

The event has been popular since its launch in 2004, and 2007 saw more than 30,000 visitors and �20,000 raised for charity.

There was no festival last year because 16 Air Assault Brigade was completing a tour of duty in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Money raised will go towards a number of military and civil charities including the Army Benevolent Fund, the brigade commander's fund, the Colchester Garrison welfare fund and the Colchester mayor's charitable fund.

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Displays on the day will include the Apache Attack Helicopter, flown members of 3 and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based in Wattisham.

There will be the Challenger 2 main battle tank; a dive tank used to display the skills of Royal Engineers divers based at 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) in Rock Barracks, Woodbridge.

This year also sees the return of established attractions, such as the Red Devils - The Parachute Regiment Freefall Team, and new displays including the White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team, from the Royal Corps of Signals and the Essex Dog Display Team. The day also features historical re-enactments and music from the Band of the Parachute Regiment, the Army Air Corps Band, the Essex Caledonian Pipe Band, the Band of the Essex Yeomanry.

It will culminate in a grand finale supported by the massed bands, a gun salute and a helicopter flypast.

Prices before the day are �8 for adults, �5 for veterans, OAPs and under-16s with family tickets costing �20, allowing two adults and up to three children, whilst under-fives are free.

On the day its �15 for adults, �10 for veterans, OAPs and under-16s and the family ticket becomes �30.

Tickets are now on sale for the festival - on Saturday July 18 - are available from: Colchester Visitor Information Centre, on 01206 282920, and Tourist Information Centres in Clacton on Sea, Ipswich, Harwich, Witham, and Braintree.