Ipswich: Two-week long events extravaganza takes over town

Street entertainers, pop-up museums, historical re-enactments and so much more; entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE finds out why we should all Celebrate Ipswich

There’s so much going on during Ipswich Central and Ipswich Borough Council’s two-week events extravaganza that even the ghost of Cardinal Wolsey is popping by.

Keep an eye out for him during the festival, showcasing the very best the town has to offer from Monday to August 24. If you’re feeling brave and fancy meeting more faces from the past there’s even a ghost walk leaving the Custom House on the Saturday.

Other highlights include street entertainment, retail offers and maritime specific beauty offers like seaweed wraps. Mini maritime museums will pop up in vacant shop units, there’ll be live music, dancing in the streets featuring past Ipswich’s Got Talent contestants and special Blue Badge historic walks with afternoon Maritea Time too.

If history’s your thing, there’re four guided tours of Ipswich with the themes of the Cobbolds, Maritime, Medieval and West Gate; focusing on the town’s most famous historical moments.

Next Tuesday and Thursday the Buttermarket area shops take to the streets with tastings, stalls and samples. Retailers will lay on in-store entertainment like Hook the Duck and cake baking in White Stuff.

The first Picnic on the Plaza is next Wednesday, with Finding Nemo taking to a big screen on the Cornhill with a lawn laid out, crafts to entertain the children and picnic packed lunches available from various retailers. A second maritime-themed film will be shown the following Wednesday.

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Next Wednesday also see crazy golf teeing off on the Cornhill with additional rides for the youngsters to enjoy the Wednesday after.

“There’s such a good feeling around at the moment with our phenomenal Olympic success and we don’t want that to stop after Sunday. Celebrate is about getting people into the town and enjoying all that we have to offer and keeping the Olympic feel good factor alive,” says Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central.

“Our beautiful town centre and Waterfront areas, our great independent businesses and the retail and leisure offering across Ipswich; everyone is joining forces to make this a triumph.”

Maritime Ipswich, next Saturday and Sunday, will be the main focus of Celebrate, promising to be full of festivities, family entertainment and incorporating the 30th annual Ipswich Beer Festival.

The Waterfront will come alive with various historical re-enactments. One must see for children and adults will be the Second World War and 1940s’ Home Front demonstrations. Including Royal Navy commandos and encampments formed during the war, you can learn more about submarines, life aboard, diet, communications and the role of submariners on all sides.

Georgian Ipswich is back for a second year, based by the Old Custom House it will include the very realistic musket firing enjoyed by so many in 2011.

There’s plenty for youngsters to do this year, with the Yo Ho Ho Pirate Show on the UCS Plaza, fairground rides and games and interactive game stalls dotted around the Waterfront. Shoppers rejoice, there’ll be three markets to browse over the maritime weekend. You’ll find the Maritime Ipswich Market stretching along the Waterfront up towards the Jerwood DanceHouse, with a mixture of stalls providing a range of crafts, gifts, books and vintage items.

The St Peter’s Street Market Weekender, based in the Saints, will celebrate a variety of local artisans, while further up the road will be the first dedicated food and drink market Ipswich has seen. Ipswich restaurants, Suffolk producers and local chefs will all be showcasing their wares to tickle your tastebuds at the launch of The Food and Drink of Ipswich.

Closed to traffic for the weekend, Cromwell Square and St Peter’s Street will also be a hive of activity stretching into the town.

DanceEast in Foundry Lane is hosting taster sessions during the course of the weekend, ending in a salsa party on Saturday. Places are limited though so book now.

Rounding off the day’s entertainment will be a firework display set to music to dazzle and light up the Waterfront. Many shops along the area and stalls within St Peter’s Street will be staying open later than normal for the extended celebration.

Sunday sees the return of the Old Gaffers, taking to the water for their annual regatta. Rowing races, sailing races, sculling races - all familiar from the Olympics by now - will all be happening throughout the day until the end of festivities at 6pm.

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