New outdoor festival aims to boost Broads tourism

A programme of more than 60 events will feature in the first Broads Outdoors Festival, showcasing the best of the Broads and running from Saturday, May 7 to Sunday, May 15.

The new nine-day festival is designed to give a boost to tourism in the lull between Easter and Whitsun.

The festival was the brainchild of Bruce Hanson, head of tourism at the Broads Authority, who inspired Broads businesses, organisations and charities to work together to promote collectively the many different ways to enjoy the Broads.

'The Broads is primarily known for boating, but there is so much more to do and we want to show that off as well,' he said. 'The festival will give people the chance to do things they might not otherwise do and see things they might not otherwise see. So many partner organisations and businesses have really pulled together to produce a fantastic programme of events...'

The festival will be launched at Whitlingham Country Park on Saturday, May 7, marking the start of over a week of walking, canoeing, cycling, train trips, boating, art and photography.

Some of the guided walks take people to wild parts of the Broads, which are not normally open to the public. The choice includes dawn chorus walks, wildflower walks, ghost, keep fit and beach walks and a walk taken by the Methodist chaplain of the Broads, biologist Briant Smith, at Upton Fen. Heigham Holmes National Nature Reserve will open on one of its rare occasions.

Imaginative outings combine train journeys with guided walks, cycling and boat trips. They include a visit to the Land of the Windmills on the River Yare, arriving by train, and walking back to Reedham along the Wherryman's Way with tours of the historic wind, steam and diesel pumps.

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On the morning of Saturday May 14, you can try your hand at canoeing for free at any of the 10 Broads Canoe Hire Association centres throughout the Broads. The CanoeMan will be running guided canoe trails combined with walks through Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden as well as an otter spotting canoe trail from Honing Lock to Barton Broad.

You can spend a day on a bush craft course learning survival techniques or go sailing aboard the oldest surviving trading wherry, the Albion.

The festival is linking in with events at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, including the Festival Jazz Boat at Horning.

A festival website and brochure with event details will be launched on Friday. It will be available at tourist information centres, libraries and information racks throughout Norwich and the Broads. Visit www.outdoorsfestival.co.uk or www.enjoythebroads.com

See next week's EDP 2 for a series of features about the Norfolk Broads, including more on the Outdoor Festival.

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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