Maritime Ipswich festival previewed

Maritime Ipswich returns to the Waterfront next weekend. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE casts an eye to the horizon to see what’s in store for visitors.

Everything is looking shipshape and Bristol fashion for this fun family festival which invites you to help celebrate Ipswich Waterfront’s past, present and future.

Ipswich Central and Ipswich Borough Council have worked with ABP, Old Gaffers Association, Waterfront Action, Ipswich Maritime Trust and CAMRA to make sure visitors won’t leave disappointed next Saturday and Sunday.

“We’re all delighted to have been involved in revitalising Maritime Ipswich for the 21st century. It’s events like this which create a real sense of community spirit and help cement Ipswich as a Waterfront town,” says Paul Clement, executive director of Ipswich Central.

“The Waterfront is one of our great assets and makes us stand apart from other towns. That is precisely why we are creating a vision for Ipswich which plays to this enormous strength.”

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Getting things off on the right foot are free DanceEast taster sessions at Jerwood DanceHouse over the weekend while Saturday evening is Salsa party night.

After brushing up on your steps or learning some new ones at lessons led by Suffolk Salsa from 6pm you’ll be a pro by the time the party really starts at 7.30pm.

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The nautical craft market, set against the backdrop of the Never Ending Mural, will have everything from crafts and books to clothing and fun, educational toys.

Quayside Children’s Centre and Bright Horizons will have children’s activities and face painting and you’ll find the Arthur Ransome’s yacht, Nancy Blackett, from the famous Swallows and Amazons book.

There will be a host of stands in the Waterfront Arts Studio showcasing vintage items, cupcakes, contemporary silver jewellery and free pirate hats for - sadly just - children.

In and around the Old Customs House, Georgian Ipswich heads back to an age of reason and exploration with period nautical demonstrations.

Georgian naval crews and marines will create a maritime setting with ships’ company on leave in port and musket firing across the marina - watch out for the Pressgang looking for recruits though.

The Old Customs House will return to its original use, with officers going about their business checking cargoes and boats in the marina.

Music, dance and theatre in keeping with the age of dandies, fobs and frivolity will take place along the quay.

For full times and exact locations of the Georgian events taking place from 10am both days grab a programme being handed out during the weekend or visit

Fast forward to Ipswich at War, a series of exciting activity and workshop areas including Life on the Home Front with make do and mend, period rationing and lots more.

A 1940s policewoman will patrol the quay, while ARP warden, housewives and land army girls go about their business. Be careful, there’s a dodgy spiv plying his trade in black market goods.

Military personnel, sand bags and check points will all add to the atmosphere and there will be a special visit by Winston Churchill. A static Spitfire will be positioned on the quay for the weekend and you’ll get the chance to turn the engines over; don’t worry, it won’t be flying off anywhere.

Hosted by Archant, publisher of The Evening Star, the Food and Drink Festival will feature delicious local produce and refreshments via a wide variety of stalls.

Found within the University Campus Suffolk Plaza, exhibitors include Lane Farm Country Foods, Munchy Seeds, Stoke Farm Orchards, Hill Farm Oils, Just Strawberries, Adnams and Herbs for Life.

There will be the chance to create your own picnic to enjoy at the festival or to take home.

With the Beer Festival keeping parents happy, the Courtyard at the Mill will feature a true-to-life, 18 metre sperm whale on the Saturday.

Enclosed in a lobster-net fence and guarded by a noisy fishwife, brave swashbucklers are led into its belly. Inside the decorated seascape inside they will meet a shipwrecked pirate with a tale of treasure to tell and come face-to-face with a mermaid who hides an intriguing secret.

Shows last for half-an-hour, starting from 11.30am until the last show at 5pm. Spaces are limited so make sure you arrive in plenty of time to watch this spectacle.

At the other end of the Waterfront, just past the university accommodation, the UK’s number one band for kids Popblast will be on stage. Expect great pop music, dance move and lyrics parents can trust.

There will also be a carousel on Orwell Quay throughout the weekend.

At the Old Custom House the area will be awash with educational and entertaining activities for children including candle and rope making, a real working Quayside Forge, a ship’s surgeon revealing all the gory details about 18th century ailments and Georgian pottery making workshops with children able to take their masterpieces home.

Enormous 13ft high Georgian women with sumptuously brocaded hips will glide through the crowds, sharing social intrigue and some hidden surprises with passers-by. I’ll say no more except the orchestra’s entrance will be worth watching.

There will be plenty of short Georgian vaudeville and circus acts with plenty of audience participation.

To the water; be sure to catch members of the Old Gaffers Sailing Association who will be rowing, sculling and sailing dinghies across the wet dock on Saturday afternoon.

From 11am on Sunday they will be racing dinghies, rubber flubber sailing races, male and female sculling races, a children’s rowing race, blindfold race, duck hunts - if they’ve migrated back in time - rubber flubber football and a sea dog show.

Some 50 visiting vessels will be docked in the marina, ensuring the water will be a hive of activity. Many of the classic boats have travelled quite a way, including some from the Netherlands and the majority are more than 100-years-old and been lovingly restored by their owners.

In attendance will be Kelpie 2, built in 1902, which is the only Victorian example of this type of yacht left; Trimilia, built in 1925 and known as a Dunkirk Little Ship due to the fact she rescued 2,800 troops from Dunkirk; and also Aloha, built for Jackie Bouvier in 1949 who became America’s most famous First Lady, Jackie Kennedy.

This is just a small snapshot of the wide variety of boats on display.

For a quiet approach to the weekend, there will be river cruises leaving from the Old Custom House and Victor the Sailing Barge will be docked there; open for people to wander around and immerse themselves in history.

Orwell River Cruises will sail back and forth, giving an insight into the historical background of the Port of Ipswich. Topsail Charters are charting the Barge Kitty, offering guests three-hour round trips for a full maritime experience both days.

Rounding the Saturday off will be a seven-and-a-half minute firework display, in association with Ipswich Building Society at 10pm.

“Maritime Ipswich promises to be an extravaganza to the extent of which the Waterfront has never seen before,” says councillor Bryony Rudkin, leisure portfolio holder for Ipswich Borough Council.

“There is something to delight and enthral all that attend and it is a real family-fun day out – particularly as it is free entry for the entire weekend. We look forward to seeing you there.”

For more information visit or the Twitter page @MaritimeIps

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