Everything you need to know about the Downham Market Water Festival

Dragon boat racing at Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dragon boat racing at Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A Norfolk town is preparing for its annual water festival.

Downham Market Water Festival. Picture. Rik Thornton

Downham Market Water Festival. Picture. Rik Thornton - Credit: Archant

The Downham Market Water Festival will take place at the Hythe Bridge on the Relief Channel on Sunday, August 11.

Returning for its 13th year the festival, which is free to attend, will take place from 10am to 5pm.

It is one of the town's biggest events of the year, with thousands gathering on the river bank to watch the dragon boat racing.

Dragon boat racing is an ancient tradition and one of the fastest growing water activity in Britain.

Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: Downham Market Town Council

Downham Market Water Festival. Picture: Downham Market Town Council - Credit: Archant


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Up to 10 people paddle each boat with a drummer beating a rhythm for rowers and a helm at the tail steering a straight course.

No experience is required and anyone over the age of 16 can participate.

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The crews are expected to race over a 200m course with a trophy on offer for the winning crew and medals for the top three teams.

The day will also be packed with family fun entertainment, including a variety of stalls, a fun fair and refreshments.

John Doyle, Chair of the Water Festival committee. Picture: Matthew Usher.

John Doyle, Chair of the Water Festival committee. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

John Doyle, chair of the water festival committee, said: "The event has grown year by year and has become a regional event, drawing people from Kent to Yorkshire and from East Anglia to the West Midlands, to our great little market town.

"The water festival as always provides a free, fun day out for those who come to visit us-either as spectators or participants.

"The enthusiastic competitive Dragon Boat teams want to have fun on the river and entertain us all."

Becky Hayes, town mayor said: "I am delighted to be a part of the water festival again this year but not as a competitor but rather as the mayor of Downham Market, which means hopefully I won't get as wet.

"The water festival is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Downham and the surrounding areas to come together and have fun, whether you choose to participate, spectate, browse the many stalls. I hope everyone has an enjoyable day."

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