Gallery: Maritime Ipswich Festival returns to Waterfront this weekend

Maritime Ipswich Festival

Maritime Ipswich Festival - Credit: Archant

This year’s maritime festival, a highlight in the Ipswich summer calendar, remembers the wartime years with a number of re-enactments and exhibitions.

The aim this year is to promote the town’s rich historical and cultural heritage. Starting Friday night, the weekend-long event kicks into high gear Saturday and Sunday.

Spread across Ipswich Waterfront, there will also be visits by historic vessels, entertainment and markets, and the ‘Pilots Mess Pub’ together with a music stage on board a barge.

Cited as an important part of the regeneration of the Waterfront area, the event has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2010 - drawing more than 70,000 visitors. It’s organised by Ipswich Borough Council working alongside businesses, ABP, UCS, Ipswich Maritime Trust, Ipswich Waterfront Action, the Old Gaffers Association, Ipswich Central and Ipswich Town and Waterfront.

“The fact Ipswich has been a port for over 1,000 years is something that is well worth celebrating and the dock is the centre of that,” says Des Pawson, vice-chairman of the Ipswich Maritime Trust. “The Ipswich Maritime Trust started in 1982 with that very vision, that the dock could be so much more, and it heartens us to see just where we have come in the last 33 years.”

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Visiting vessels include VIC 96, one of the last remaining steamships which was fuelled by coal and built as part of the war to supply both the naval dockyards and the fleet; MT Kent, built in Lowestoft in 1948 and the oldest working tug and the 92ft Thames Barge Neljan which will be used by the Blue Bus Tour as a music stage for the event.

Festival-goers are invited to step about some of these - and the more contemporary boats - and there will be a programme of cruises.

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Bryony Rudkin, Ipswich Borough Council culture and leisure portfolio holder, adds: “This maritime weekend has something for everyone, with historic vessels, re-enactments, quayside markets and entertainment and some fabulous food. The Waterfront will be a focus not only for the town but also visitors from across the county.”

For highlights from previous years, see our gallery.


• British Soldiers and life in the trenches during The Gallipoli campaign including weapons, equipment and accessories of the period; the chance to see inside a company guard room and HQ, meet the company quartermaster, visit the company Field Kitchen and tansport including a First World War ammunition cart

• A First World War 18 Pdr Filed Gun and detachment, British Motor-tricycle, wren and First World War nursing and living history display including medical and cooking areas

• Russian soldiers and life on the Eastern Front living history display including weapons, equipment and accessories; cameo, rifle firing and machine gun displays

• French soldiers and living history zone including weapons, equipment and accessories; tentage, a look at life for First World War Civilians in France and a mobile museum

• Meet an Australian soldier, in full period clothing and equipment

• Imperial German and Austo-Hungarian Empire soldiers’ lives during the period including weapons, equipment and accessories; living history presentations, rifle firing displays, drill practice and trench warfare

• First World War Music from Music Wagon


• Funfair on Orwell Quay both days

• Maritime Dance Day in the Cranfield Mill Courtyard with traditional ceilidh, Morris and hip-hop dancing Saturday

• Old Custom House’s Ipswich at War exhibition by ABP and another from the Ipswich Maritime Trust

• Sae Wylfing, a 46ft half-length replica Saxon ship outside the Cult Cafe and Saxon activities including stick Peeling, sword, stave or wand making, Saxon Lego models and an Anglo-Saxon hammered coin anvil

• Children’s activities and workshops including First World War toy soldier pewter casting and painting; school life and period games

• Blue Bus Tour Stage featuring a range of music both days

• Procession from Old Custom House at 9pm Saturday with cannon firing from the island site at 9.15pm-9.30pm

• Firework Display at 9.30pm on the Waterfront Sunday

• DanceEast’s Maritime Dance Day with ceilidh, Morris and hip-hop dancing on Saturday and a family fun day Sunday

• Music at Isaacs, Briarbank Brewing Company, Cult Cafe and Bar Bistro

Waterside activities

• Old Gaffers with 50 vessels on show with a programme of activities Sunday

• Wet dock trips and cruises

Street markets and food

• Regatta Quay, Orwell Quay and island site featuring a variety of stalls.

For timings see here

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