'Great to be back': Families return to Ipswich May Day Festival after pandemic pause

Crowds enjoyed Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park, Ipswich. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Crowds enjoyed Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park, Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Families flocked to Ipswich May Day Festival - the longest running May Day festival in the country - as it returned after two years away. 

The pandemic meant that the popular festival in Alexandra Park couldn't be put on in 2020 and 2021, but plenty of Ipswich residents were glad to see the celebrations return on a dry day in the town centre. 

Music, fairground rides and food stalls were ready to go from noon, with festivities lasting until 6pm.

Danny Mackay at Ipswich May Day Festival 2022

Danny Mackay is the organiser of this year's festival, taking over from his mum, who stepped down in 2019 - Credit: Archant

Funky Voices opened the show at the Global Village and Tempus Frayed on the Roger Mackay stage, named after the man who organised the festival until 2012. 

His son, Danny Mackay, who stepped up to run the event for 2022 after his mother stepped down in 2019, said: "It's been an interesting journey because everybody is trying to get up to speed after three years. 

Crowds enjoyed Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park, Ipswich. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The May Day Festival returned to Alexandra Park, Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"We were getting prepared for 2020 and were hoping maybe we were early enough in the year but had to make a decision in about mid-February. 

"I've been having to dust off signs, get them out of the garage." 

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But the cobwebs have been brushed away and plenty of families were arriving for the early sets at the festival.

Crowds enjoyed Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park, Ipswich. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

There were lots f colourful activities - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Mackay continued: "We've got the Roger Mackay stage, we've got the Global Village, the Freedom Soundsystem and the new area we've got is Future Female Society, as run by Kim Trotter.

"It's to engage with young women - in the world we're in today we want to actively include more female artists, more women helping with engineering in the background. A lot of these things have always been so male-dominated."

Signs saying 'teamwork makes the dream work' and 'bee happy' at the festival

Colourful signs from The Hive on Norwich Road were on display - Credit: Archant

Support doesn't just come from the community turning out on the day - a lot of work has gone in behind the scenes to bring the stalls, bands, fairground rides and groups together. 

Crowds enjoyed Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park, Ipswich. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Music was on three stages at the May Day Festival at Alexandra Park - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"We get so much funding from the trade unions and if we didn't have that, we couldn't put this on," Mr Mackay explained. 

"We always get a great turnout and it's great to be back."

Children enjoyed the funfair in Alexandra Park on Mayday. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Children enjoyed the funfair in Alexandra Park on May Day - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Laurelle having fun at the Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Laurelle having fun at the Mayday celebrations in Alexandra Park - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown