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Ipswich Maritime Festival could become annual event again after success of this year's event

PUBLISHED: 14:18 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 21 August 2017

Ipswich Waterfront was packed with boats of all shapes and sizes for Ipswich Maritime. Picture: GARY DONNISON

Ipswich Waterfront was packed with boats of all shapes and sizes for Ipswich Maritime. Picture: GARY DONNISON

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The Ipswich Maritime Festival could become an annual event once more after event bosses said they would review the possibility following this year's packed two day event.

People enjoying going on board. Picture: GARY DONNISONPeople enjoying going on board. Picture: GARY DONNISON

Ipswich Borough Council announced in 2016 that the festival would be held every two years, with a smaller Waterfront Festival taking place in between.

The two-day celebration regularly attracts more than 50,000 punters to the Waterfront, but Ipswich Borough Council confirmed that official attendance figures exceeded 60,000 over the weekend.

Speaking at the festival on Sunday, the borough council’s operations manager for commercial development, Mark Whiting said: “This has become such a tradition for people to come to, as proved with the Waterfront Festival last year, which is why we need to consider how often we have this.”

A borough council spokesman added: “Maritime is one of the cornerstones of our summer events programme and brings in people from all over the county and beyond.

Around 60,000 people attended the two days. Picture: GARY DONNISONAround 60,000 people attended the two days. Picture: GARY DONNISON

“We shall be reviewing the festival with our partners and will discuss future arrangements to ensure we can sustain a fabulous offer to visitors.

“The council wants to thank ABP and the Ipswich Maritime Trust for helping to make the weekend such a success.”

No definitive timeline has been laid out as to when such a review will be made, but it is understood that Waterfront businesses are keen to capitalise on the surge in footfall.

The weekend also featured a return of a beer festival, with Suffolk brewers Beer&Co. running the Saints Maritime Beer and Cider Festival at St Peter’s by the Waterfront.

The Ipswich Maritime Beer & Cider Festival held at St Peter's by the Waterfront. Picture: DARIO VITELLINIThe Ipswich Maritime Beer & Cider Festival held at St Peter's by the Waterfront. Picture: DARIO VITELLINI

Boss Greg Cooper, who has run several beer festivals at the venue, said that around 1,500 came through the doors and would welcome the return of an annual maritime festival.

“It went really, really well so it’s really positive,” he said.

“CAMRA [Campaign for Real Ale which ran previous maritime beer festivals] are definitely supporting us and we had some of their volunteers with us.

“Everyone at the Waterfront was positive about the festival, and I think Ipswich needs that sort of event.

Live music at the Ipswich Maritime Beer & Cider Festival held at St Peter's by the Waterfront. Picture: DARIO VITELLINILive music at the Ipswich Maritime Beer & Cider Festival held at St Peter's by the Waterfront. Picture: DARIO VITELLINI

“I am hoping to do it again next year going a bit bigger, maybe with a second venue.”

Andrew Harston, Associated British Ports sea ports director, said: “It was great to work with the Ipswich Maritime Trust, Merchant Navy Association and the Apostleship of the Sea, to make the Ipswich Maritime Weekend a success.

“Being so prominent in the Ipswich Waterfront, we were delighted to open Old Custom House to over 2,500 visitors and look forward to continue supporting Ipswich Borough Council with the organisation of the event in future.

“I would like to thank Ipswich Port Manager, Paul Ager and all of our Ipswich colleagues who gave up their time over this busy weekend to volunteer and be present on the ABP stands where we were also raising money for the Mayor’s chosen charities.”

What you would like to see

Ipswich Star online readers have been weighing in with their suggestions on what the festival should have.

Among the main criticism was the large number of food stalls, while many asked for more on Ipswich’s maritime history itself such as talks and demonstrations.

Some said they missed the rope-making demonstrations and presence of the big canons in previous years.

Other suggestions included a regatta-style weekend, more space in front of music stages, more interactive games for children or a similar style event at Christmas.

Emma Joyner commented on Facebook: “It should be every year, we have such a lovely waterfront! We can learn from this and can only get better! It’s what Ipswich needs.”

Yolly Panda added: “We really enjoyed it. Agree with comments that more maritime stuff and a few more interactive stuff for the kids. I would really like to see this event return each year.”

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