Suffolk’s Big Weekend lives up to its name

THE weather may not have lived up to expectations but that did not stop thousands of visitors enjoying Suffolk’s Big Weekend.

A whole variety of the county’s top attractions opened their doors from theatres, museums, castles and gardens to theme parks, farms and shops.

The aim was to get people to explore what was on their doorstep throughout yesterday and Saturday.

Offers included three-for-two entrance, free child admission with an accompanying adult, discounts on accommodation, two for one meal deals and free sessions or lessons at golf clubs and leisure centres.

Events included a medieval fun weekend at Jimmy’s Farm in Wherstead, near Ipswich, while the nearby Suffolk Food Hall held a special Father’s Day fair in aid of the RNLI yesterday.

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Along with a variety of stalls it also included a barbecue, Punch and Judy, bouncy castle, dog competitions and sheep dog trials.

Abby Knight, the manager of the shop floor, said: “There were lots of different things going on. We have been very busy, especially considering it has been so cold.”

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Meanwhile an estimated 5,000 people attended yesterday’s Suffolk Pride event at Christchurch Park in Ipswich.

It was the county’s second festival for the gay and lesbian community and included music and other entertainment along with trade stalls, information stands, and other attractions to keep the large crowds happy.

Event spokesman Paul Couch said: “We were very pleased last year when we got about 3,000 people to come along. This year the numbers are up considerably.

“The fact that it is such an inclusive event with so much to offer has really helped to give it a boost.”

Other attractions to open were Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, Easton Farm Park and Alder Carr Farm in Needham Market, which held a Strawberry Fayre on Saturday, and the Long Melford Midsummer Country Show.

The sights and smells of the Elizabethan age were brought to life at the Great Annual re-creation of Tudor Life at Kentwell Hall.

Visitors were transported back 500 years to get a glimpse of daily life at the famous mansion in Long Melford yesterday.

Traditional crafts, music and activities were all played out by more than 300 volunteers who dress, speak, eat and drink as their ancestors would have done in Tudor times.

Curious visitors could also explore Little Hall Museum in Lavenham, which was built back in the 1390s when the historic town was one of the richest in England.

Fairground rides, bouncy castles, petting zoos and craft stalls kept young and old entertained at Nowton Park Country Fair in Bury St Edmunds.

Youngsters could try their hand at the wet sponge throwing competition or visit sheep and piglets in their pen, while dads could enjoy a quiet pint from the Old Cannon Brewery in the town.

Alex Paul, tourism manager with Choose Suffolk, which organised the event along with the county council, said: “The Big Weekend is a showcase of all the wonderful and diverse things that Suffolk has to offer.

“We want to encourage people to enjoy what’s on their doorstep.”

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