Video/Gallery: Celebrate Ipswich Festival gets off to flying start with screening of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs on Cornhill

Families flocked to Ipswich town centre yesterday for an outdoor movie screening and giant games on

Families flocked to Ipswich town centre yesterday for an outdoor movie screening and giant games on the Cornhill as part of the 'Celebrate Ipswich' event. Sophie Ward and Poppy Mason - Credit: Archant

Crowds gathered to mark the opening day of the Celebrate Ipswich Festival as thousands are expected to flock to enjoy a packed programme of events this week.

Street busking, a giant robot and beer festival is set to thrill visitors to the town centre over the coming days as artists, performers and local businesses unite to revel in all that is great about Ipswich.

Packing the Cornhill yesterday, members of the public joined together to enjoy a mass picnic as organisers Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Central staged an open air screening of the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Family members young and old revealed their delight at the fun-packed week ahead.

Pam Geoghegan, who took her grandson along yesterday, said she is excited at the prospect of visiting the rest of the festival.

She said: “It’s brilliant. We will try and come to everything.

“Anything like this makes the town a bit more exciting.”

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And taking precious moments out of enjoying the film, Denise Lavender added: “It’s surreal. You’re watching a film and then when you turn around there are the shops!”

Bryony Rudkin, the borough council’s portfolio holder for culture, said the aim is to focus on “celebrating everything that is good about Ipswich”.

She added: “We are all looking forward to celebrating everything that is good about Ipswich.

“We have a week of activities for all the family and then the fabulous Maritime Festival to round off all the fun on the Waterfront.”

Meanwhile local traders are hoping the series of events will attract shoppers to spend in the town centre.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said teams encouraged local businesses to take part in the ‘spruce up the streets’ initiative in preparation for the event.

He added: “This is a great opportunity for the residents and visitors alike to celebrate all that is great about our town. There are so many events on throughout the week it promises to offer something for everyone.”

And Fiona Beardsworth, associate manager of the town’s Gap store added: “As a store we are proud to be part of the Celebrate Ipswich festival.

“Like many other stores around the town we are displaying the Celebrate Ipswich bunting which is giving the town a great festival feel.

“We’re also offering customers a 15% discount until Saturday to encourage people to come into Gap and the town centre and join us in celebrating Ipswich.”

Gap are not alone in offering customers a special deal.

Shoppers can get their hands on the Celebrate Ipswich booklet to find out which other stores are taking part.

Susie Moor, store manager of The Body Shop in Tavern Street said the town was already feeling busier.

“The town definitely has a lot of footfall today,” she said.

“It’s definitely been a tough time so it’s nice to get involved in something like this.”

Like several other shops in town, Friday will see Body Shop employees dressing up in a pirate outfits – a nod to the nautical theme set to sweep through the town ahead of the Maritime Festival at the weekend, when a spectacular fireworks display will illuminate the Waterfront.