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Ipswich: Beer festival doubt after date change

14:30 31 January 2014

Mayor Mary Blake joined Nigel Smith of CAMRA at the opening of the 30th Ipswich Beer Festivall in 2012.

Mayor Mary Blake joined Nigel Smith of CAMRA at the opening of the 30th Ipswich Beer Festivall in 2012.

A massive question mark today hangs over the future of Suffolk’s largest beer festival.


The Ipswich Beer Festival has been held on the town’s Waterfront as part of the Maritime Festival since 2011, but a change in date this year means that is not possible.

There are fears that after 31 festivals, the event might not happen in the town unless a new venue and date can be found.

Organiser Nigel Smith, from the Ipswich and East Suffolk branch of Camra, said: “This year’s Maritime Festival has been brought forward a week.

“It now clashes with the Great British Beer Festival in London – and we cannot hold the Ipswich festival at the same time.”

The Ipswich festival borrows equipment from Camra’s national body, and that will be needed at the London event.

Also many Camra members from Suffolk head off to London for the country’s largest beer festival – which would make it difficult to staff the event.

Mr Smith said he was now looking for an alternative venue and date – although this was not an easy task. Up to 2010 the festival was held at the Corn Exchange, but this is no longer an option.

He said: “We have lost the ground floor of the Corn Exchange which was very important to us. If we went back there we would have to charge £4-£5 a head entrance to cover the costs of the event, and we could only have 600 people there at a time and there would be long queues.

“We’d like to have another outdoor summer venue, but we are still looking to see what is available. It may be that we have smaller pop-up festivals in future.”

Ipswich councillor for leisure Bryony Rudkin said that the beer festival was an important highlight of the town’s summer and the borough would be keen to work with Camra to ensure it could continue in some form.

She said: “This is the first I have heard of a threat to the festival, and we shall be in contact with the organisers from Camra as soon as possible to see how we can work together to try to help them find a venue.”



  • Suffolk CAMRA needs to realise that it is negotiating from a position of strength. They should go ahead and organise the event for the time THEY want. The council would be foolish not to try and hang on to their coat tails.

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    Simon K

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Another council own goal...soon they will realise that the beer festival is one of the main reasons for people visiting. Numbers swelled since they moved it from the Corn Exchange. I have never been to the council offices - but do they have a motto hanging somewhere that reads "If it works, and works well, look to change it and mess it right up"

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    Andrew Ward

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • It would have been useful if the report had stated the reason for changing the date of the festival. Was it done so it didn't clash with a councillor's holiday?

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    Driven Roundabend

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • occlusive proof that neither Ipswich Borough Council nor Ipswich Central can organise a **** up in a brewery (or a Waterfront car park for that matter)

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    dale craven

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • It needs a permanent new venue, having it on that bit of land is awful. Even a small amount of rain and it floods, and the portable toilets are horrible. Find it a proper venue like the Corn Exchange, which was a great place for it.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • Can Mr Geater find out why and who made this decision if they are willing to put themselves above the paraphet. CAMRA have done a wonderful job over the years with many members of the public thoroughly enjoying this event. Ipswich Maritime will suffer enormously for this and as indicated the Ipswich Beer Festival is well capable of a stand alone event. If this was an opera evening or something of a high brow nature for the officials of the Council I am sure it would not be moved.....what a shambles for the public of Ipswich. Why oh why we ask..........

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    Joseph Marshall

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • My experience of the Beer festival is as follows. Corn Exchange: No Queues, nice atmosphere in a lovely old building, plenty of seating, a good band able to play until closing time. The waterfront: Large Queues, not enough seating or tables, no atmosphere in a boarded off carpark cannot even see the waterfront, Acoustic band only, finishing early as cannot upset any neighbours with the noise. Why not have it in Christchurch park in a couple of Marquees people could take their own seating after all it is a lovely park and the music day works well there.

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    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • Is there a good reason for the date change? If the BH weekend is no longer an option is there a date available which can accommodate the beer festival as it clearly increases the public interest.

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    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • @Simon, you are forgetting that the council control the access & the costs associated with the existing & former festival venues and even if a new venue were to be found also have to grant a license to the festival organisers to sell alcohol.

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    Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • I've been a supporter of the Ipswich Beer Festival for many a year since I was only enough to drink. But last year I was part of the Delivery team for the festival and as chosen charity charity, Camille's Appeal. I know that the hoops the IBF team had to jump through to get last years festival up and running, and kept running during the foul weather. The festival site is not ideal, as the drainage needs some attention and i wont go into some of the other political mumbo jumbo. But I know that I will surely miss celebrating my 40th at this years festival.

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    Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • Why can't the beer festival be held on the same site but on a different weekend? The beer festival doesn't need the maritime festival to attract customers, it never had it at the corn exchange. The council will soon learn that the maritime festival is not much of an attraction without the beer festival, or will they? as they seem to conitnue to stumble blindly from poor decision to disaster.

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    Big Spot

    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Big Spot you are spot on! Without the beer festival the number of visitors to the martitime festival will plummet. The beer festival is the biggest attraction by far. Silly IBC (once again!)

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    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Even though the council desperately NEEDS the beer festival to bring the crowds to the so-called "waterfront", it's amazing how hard it seems to work against Camra. While one faction at the council encourages the Beer Festival, other factions seem determined to make the organisers' lives difficult. I even heard of one council official demanding that people were prevented from sitting on the huge concrete blocks holding the marquees down "in case the concrete blocks fall over".

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    Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Nice touch Ipswich why do you keep boasting of the best town in suffolk ! Wake up and smell the coffee we are just a small place in a big county. Now we read the town cannot host a beer festival! Get real please . Maybe get the councilors who choose to put traffic lights everywhere thats not needed can help out .

    Report this comment

    Steve Cotterell

    Friday, January 31, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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