Organisers of Downham Market Water Festival hoping for best year yet

The date for the annual Downham Market Water Festival, which brings thousands of people to the town, has been announced.

It will be the sixth successive year that the sound of beating drums and cheering crowds will echo around the banks of the Great Ouse Relief Channel as teams of paddlers push for victory at the community event.

Dragon Boat, or Duen Ng, racing is the main feature of the occasion which operates on the land adjoining the Hythe Bridge and will take place on Sunday, August 5.

The popular event has gone from strength to strength since it was launched and last year more than 3,000 people enjoyed the sunshine and stalls as 19 teams battled to rule the waves.

The crews are usually formed from clubs, pubs, business and sports teams and each team has three races from which to record their two best times and the top eight teams with the quickest times then battle it out over the 100-metre course for a place in the final.

Teams can be made up of between six and 15 paddlers and a drummer and team entry costs �150.

Sarah Mawby, the town council's events co-ordinator, said she hopes to secure 28 teams for the festival.

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Miss Mawby said: 'With teams of 15 people plus a drummer, the cost equates to less than �10 per person, which is incredible value for this kind of team building activity compared to similar events.

'It is also a brilliant full day out and a great way to raise money for charity through sponsorship.'

The festival is free for spectators, who can enjoy lots of activities on the riverbank, including stalls and a funfair, as well as watching the racing.

Many of the boats are beautifully decorated, traditionally as dragons, and the event has a history extending back more than 2,000 years throughout Asia.

Duen Ng was traditionally a day of national holiday and festivity and was always associated with the propitious 'double fifth', the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

For more information email or call 01366 387770.

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