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Ipswich hailed 'tourist hotspot' as May bank holiday visitor bookings up by 49%

PUBLISHED: 15:36 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:40 24 April 2017

Volunteers and participants from Headway dress up at the Ipswich May Day Festival in 2015. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Volunteers and participants from Headway dress up at the Ipswich May Day Festival in 2015. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Ipswich is set to be one of the most visited towns in the UK this long bank holiday weekend.

Visitors enjoy the sunshine at the 2014 May Day event. Picture: GREGG BROWNVisitors enjoy the sunshine at the 2014 May Day event. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Figures from coach operator National Express show passenger bookings to the borough are up 49% compared to the same period last year.

Managing director Chris Hardy said: “We all love a long bank holiday weekend and our advanced bookings reveal Ipswich is a real tourist hotspot.

“It seems people are really planning on making the most of the extra day this weekend by exploring the great towns of the UK.”

According to early statistics, Ipswich is in line to be the ninth most visited UK town across Friday to Monday, beaten by popular seaside destinations such as Bournemouth and Blackpool.

There are plenty of events lined up in Ipswich, including a beer and folk festival at St Peters by the Waterfront, run by Beer&Co, based in the town.

Greg Cooper, director, said he hoped the festival would be well received by the public.

He added: “We are trying to be innovative and attract a few more people into Ipswich to try something new.”

Ipswich & District Trades Union Council will host the 39th annual May Day Festival at Alexandra Park on Sunday.

Co-ordinator Teresa MacKay said the event was attended by more than 6,000 people last year.

She added: “It’s very different from the original. We used to call it a fun day, now we have three stages and a reggae marquee as well as the stuff for the children, food stalls and beer tents. There’s an awful lot going on during the course of the day.”

Ms MacKay said the introduction of the “global village” had drawn more young people to the May Day Festival.

On Saturday night there will be also be a new gin festival at Christchurch Mansion put on by Gin Punch.

Visitor experience manager of Ipswich Borough Council, Steve Allman, said: “There is so much to do and see in Ipswich and many of our attractions, like Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Museum, are free for visitors to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday.

“We also have beautiful parks, a vibrant cultural scene, great restaurants, the stunning Waterfront, trips down the Orwell and our historic town centre - you can see why Ipswich is so popular. All we need now is some glorious weather to go with it.”

It comes as Ipswich Destination Management Organisation announces plans to market the town as the perfect place for a short getaway.

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