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8 reasons why Ipswich isn't a 'crap town'

PUBLISHED: 19:00 25 July 2019

Kia-Rose Hardwicke enjoying the Elmer trail  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Kia-Rose Hardwicke enjoying the Elmer trail Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk's county town wasn't 'honoured' with a place on the infamous listing of the worst places to live in the UK this year…and some of these highlights could be the key to why.

What a beauty! Elmer in Cromwell Square/St Nicholas Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENTWhat a beauty! Elmer in Cromwell Square/St Nicholas Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

"Ipswich is rubbish!"

"There's nothing going on in town."

"The high street is dead."

It feels like not a week goes by where poor old Ipswich doesn't get a bashing…and it makes me mad. Why? Because actually, our little town has a hell of a lot going for it. I've travelled all over the UK and can honestly say this part of Suffolk has plenty to be proud of compared to many of the other places I've been. Unfortunately Ipswich has been slapped in the face by the I Live Here Crap Towns list and the like a few times over the years….but instead of nodding in agreement with the naysayers, we should be holding our heads high, stomping our feet and making some noise about all the things Ipswich has that make us smile.

Luke Bailey celebrates with his sister at the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2019Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLuke Bailey celebrates with his sister at the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2019Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In 2019 the town escaped a bashing on the infamous lists….and here are just a few reasons why perhaps this year voters decided to lay easy on Suffolk. Yes Ipswich isn't perfect…but the more we learn to love, appreciate and talk about all the good, the better for everyone. Otherwise aren't we collectively digging the town's grave?

1. Free festivals

Did you know Ipswich hosts more free festivals than almost any other town in the country? How great is that? There's Global Rhythm, the Indian Summer Mela, Ipswich Maritime Festival…and not forgetting the incredible feat that is Ipswich Music Day (held a few weekends ago), which attracts thousands of people to Christchurch Park for a whole day of music spanning multiple genres. SPILL festival, moved to Ipswich from London last year, bringing the weird, wacky and cool to the town. And this September Art East launches, with art, food, music and more sprawling along the entirety of the Waterfront.

Official opening of the Empire cinema in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWNOfficial opening of the Empire cinema in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the new Art Eat festival in Ipswich

2.Top class parks

Geoff Bligh and Philip Rivers at the coffee bar at Hank's Deli & Shop in IpswichGeoff Bligh and Philip Rivers at the coffee bar at Hank's Deli & Shop in Ipswich

When you need to catch your breath. When you need to slow down. When You want to get away from technology and noise…take shelter in Ipswich's superb parks. Christchurch, with its canopy of ancient trees, mansion tearoom, play area, running/cycling paths and tennis courts. Holywells, with its lovely stable block, open spaces and fantastic splash park (perfect for cooling down). And Bourne Park, where toddlers love to paddle in the shallow outdoor pool and watch the trains go by on the line nearby.

READ MORE: Find out about Bourne Park and Holywells park

The first images of the show apartment in the Winerack are revealed.
Picture: WHAT ASSOCIATES/WINERACKAPARTMENTS.COMThe first images of the show apartment in the Winerack are revealed. Picture: WHAT ASSOCIATES/WINERACKAPARTMENTS.COM

3. We still have good shops

Much has been made of all the closures in town, with blame laid at the doors of car parking fees and the lack of choice and variety offered by the national chains which have faltered. Yet there are plenty of independents and decent high street shops to enjoy. To the delight of brand fans, Superdry recently opened, joined in Ipswich by the likes of Tiger Tiger, Paperchase, H&M, Fatface, Topshop, New Look, White Stuff, TK Maxx and others. Independents shouting out about Ipswich include gift store Love One, finalist in our food and drink awards, the beer store Hopsters, mainstay Maud's Attic and many many more.

4. Elmer's Big Parade

Following the success of the Pigs Gone Wild trail, this year Ipswich has become home to 55 individually decorated Elmer elephants thanks to Wild in Art, raising money for St Elizabeth Hospice, alongside 84 young Elmers completed by schools and groups.

You can download the Elmer App online for £1.99, or buy a sticker book and collect all the pictures of the herd over the summer. The trail is an excellent way to explore Ipswich as a family, get some exercise and be wowed by the work which has gone into every single piece. The trail is available to view and follow until September and afterwards the elephants will be placed in a charity auction for the hospice.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Elmer's Big Parade

5. The transformation of the Buttermarket

A few years ago this iconic building in the centre of the town was, for many, just a bypass through to the next street….but investment has seen it bring much-needed vitality to the area. In addition to a range of places to eat, the development brought revitalised shops, such as TK Maxx and New Look, a swanky new Empire cinema, and an entertainment complex including a 'Ninja' course, arcade games, pool, bowling and a bar. It's rarely empty of an evening or weekend now.

6. It's becoming a vegan/veggie haven

Who'd of thought Ipswich would end up being one of the most progressive in the county when it comes to the turning tide in our eating habits. More and more people are choosing to eat less meat, and this is the town that's sitting up, listening and responding. Arlingtons relaunched this year with a plethora of interesting plant-based options. Museum Street Café has teamed up with La Tour Café to form The Hub Kitchen on Ipswich Waterfront, with lots of choice for vegans and vegetarians. The new Green Room café is vegetarian-friendly . Award-winning vegan eatery Hullaballoo just moved to St Peter's Street in the centre of town. And Ipswich also recently welcomed its first vegan deli, Hank's.

7. Check out these award-winners

Ipswich has consistently produced winners in our Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards. This year Luke Bailey of Salthouse Harbour Hotel, won Chef of the Year, and Hullaballoo won Best Café/Tearoom. Arcade Street Tavern, known for its immense array of beer, gin and now rum, is a previous winner of Best Pub. And independent craft beer shop Hopsters was a finalist for Best Newcomer in 2019.

8. People are still investing in Ipswich

After years of waiting, the 'Winerack' on the Waterfront, which some said would never be completed, finally has something to show, with more than 100 luxury apartments due to be completed by Ipswich Wharf Developments by the end of the year. Several of these are already under offer…which can only be good news.

What do you love/hate about Ipswich? Write to us.

The Crap Towns of the UK according to votes collated by I Live Here in 2019 are:

1. Peterborough

2. Huddersfield

3. Rochdale

4. Doncaster

5. Hull

6. Rotherham

7. Blackpool

8. Castleford

9. Oldham

10. Blackburn

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