OPINION: Events in Ipswich 'more important than ever before'

David Ellesmere at Ipswich Music Day 2022

David Ellesmere at Ipswich Music Day 2022 as he says events in Ipswich remain important during the cost of living crisis. - Credit: David Ellesmere/Archant/citizenside

After a two-year break forced on us by Covid it was great to see thousands of people once again thronging to Christchurch Park this weekend to enjoy some fabulous free musical entertainment.

Saturday saw Global Rhythm and Ipswich Jazz Festival join forces to provide a celebration of worldwide music and culture. Five stages provided a programme of jazz, blues, Caribbean and world music with something for everyone.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, says the new sports centres will be 'better quality'

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, says the new sports centres will be 'better quality' - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

There were music and dance workshops, a funfair, craft stalls and street food and drink.

Sam Kelly will perform during Global Rhythm and Ipswich Jazz Festival

Sam Kelly will perform during Global Rhythm and Ipswich Jazz Festival - Credit: Sam Kelly

For those who wanted to get another fix of music after the park closed there was a gig at the Smokehouse or the amazing production of Sweeney Todd at the New Wolsey Theatre.

On Sunday Ipswich Music Day returned to Christchurch Park for its 32nd year.

Six stages will be set up around the park, allowing the opportunity to listen to different music genres

Six stages will be set up around the park, allowing the opportunity to listen to different music genres - Credit: citizenside.com

With six stages of live entertainment and music from local upcoming artists along with the four classical stages hosted by Ipswich Arts Association, Ipswich Music Day remains the largest free one-day music festival in the country.

The first Music Day was in 1991. It originally started as a government initiative to have a “National Music Day”. However, over the years most other places gradually stopped putting on events.

I’m really proud that Ipswich Borough Council has continued to support Music Day through three decades, putting on a festival that is the envy of other towns and cities.

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I’m sure the reason other places stopped their music days was down to one reason – money – and with the twin hits of ongoing Covid costs and rising prices, Ipswich Borough Council’s finances are certainly being tested as never before.

But as family finances continue to be squeezed by the Cost of Living Crisis we think it is more important than ever for there to be events that everyone in Ipswich and Suffolk can enjoy regardless of their income.

For tens of thousands of people, the first weekend of July has become synonymous with Ipswich Music Day and I don’t think that anyone running the Council who ended this would ever be forgiven.

That doesn’t mean that things should always stay the same though.

That’s why, this year, we’ve brought the two days of music together as an experiment to see if we can bring a bigger economic benefit to the town by holding a weekend of music rather than a single day.

If there’s a weekend of entertainment this will hopefully attract more visitors who will stay at hotels on Friday or Saturday. By having events after the parks close, we can entice people into the town centre and hopefully spend some money.

We will be looking to organise more of these weekends throughout the year.

We will also be running our usual programme of free summer events.

Indian Summer Mela held in Christchurch Park
Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Indian Summer Mela held in Christchurch Park Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: RACHEL EDGE

Next weekend will see the return of the popular Indian Mela in Christchurch Park. Run in association with Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association, the Mela celebrates Indian culture with a mix of live entertainment, music, dance, a market, and amazing food.

We will be running Family Fun Days in parks across the town through the summer. From 22nd July to 5th August there will be a fun day at Alexandra Park, Ransomes Sports Pavilion, Murray Road Rec, Bourne Park and Whitehouse Park.

September will see the return of the One Big Multicultural Festival in Alexandra Park, run in association with BSC Multicultural Services – a fantastic combination of music, dance, sport and food from around the world. For more details see: www.ipswichentertains.co.uk

I’d just like to end by asking us to remember all the council staff, our partner organisations and a whole range of volunteers who work so tirelessly to put these events on.

There is a huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we are entertained and kept safe, and we owe them a huge debt of thanks.