Downham Market festival to bring town to life with Olympic Jubilee theme

Organisers are busy putting the final touches to the 38th Downham Market Festival which starts this weekend.

The eight-day festival begins on Sunday with a flag-raising ceremony in the Town Square at 11.30am.

This will be followed by a live screening in the Town Hall of the Thames Flotilla in London as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Bank Holiday Monday will see the popular carnival parade snake its way through the town from Heygates Mill to the Howdale at 1pm.

Organisers hope that the parade will be biggest ever with this year's theme of Olympic Jubilee. Hundreds attended last year's parade, which had a wild west theme.

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The parade will also be led by the original 1948 Olympic torch which will come through the town as part of a 170-mile route around West Norfolk from June 2 to 5.

The newly-elected town mayor Robin Pegg will then officially open the Carnival Day events on the Howdale with plenty on offer at the main arena.

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On Tuesday there will be a live screen of the diamond jubilee celebrations in London at the Town Hall. There will also be free rides for children, face painting, a jubilee town trial, a prince and princess competition, and much more in the Town Square and Market Place.

The following day people can go along to the Town Hall for the festival cake-cutting event from 10am or enjoy performances from Rachel Duffield and the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan singers from 7.30pm.

A festival baby show will take place at the Salvation Army meeting place in Bridge Street on Thursday, from 1.30pm, which will be followed by an evening of entertainment in the Town Hall which is being organised by Downham Amateur Drama Society (DADS).

People can also have a great evening of music at the Downham Market Methodist Church hall next Friday which will showcase the talents of young local singers with music ranging from pop to musical theatre.

Next Saturday there will be a children's fancy dress disco in the Town Hall from 1.30pm. The final day of the festival will see songs of praise and a flag lowering ceremony on the Town Square at 1pm.

Father Alan Davies, the festival's chairman, said: 'This year's festival is something of a double whammy [with] the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games in London so we have plenty to celebrate.

'You do not need deep pockets to enjoy the festival - just join in with gusto. Many years ago, I realised that a family with slender resources could have a lot of fun simply by joining in local events to the max.'

He continued: 'Times aren't so good economically at the moment so all you moaners out there, come and join in the spirit of the festival. Let's all celebrate as hard as we can and make it a memorable year.'

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