Downham Market Water Festival preview

Scene for the dragon boat racing at Downham Market Water Festival 2013. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Scene for the dragon boat racing at Downham Market Water Festival 2013. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The sight of boats soaring down a river returns this weekend at the annual Downham Market Water Festival.

Embarking on its 8th year, the headline feature is a knockout dragon boat racing competition where teams from businesses, clubs and pubs go paddle to paddle.

The festival takes place down the Great Ouse Relief Channel next to Hythe Bridge from 10am on Sunday, August 10.

Councillor John Doyle who is also chairman of the comittee said: 'The festival has grown from stength to strength and now you get people from Kent, Yorkshire and the West Midlands who come to this event not just people from Downham Market.

'The event really is to highlight the river as not many people know that we have one.

'We always get a couple of thousand of people out here for a great family day of free entertainment.

'On the river banks there are stalls, food, games and local charities as well as a sports arena where people can take part in Taekwondo, Zumba and all sorts.

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The dragon boat racing currently features 20 teams in the lineup, with teams of between 6 and 15 paddelers.

Dragon boat racing was originated in China 200 years ago and has gone on to become very popular in the western world.

Margaret Key is looking to cheer on a team she has put together from employees of C&M Servicing, a company based in the town's Trafalgar Square.

She said: 'We enter it every year, we always take the event seriously and more than that it is a very fun day out. 'It's great to get the guys out with their families, children and dogs.'

The festival is free for observers while team registration for the competitors cost £160.

No experience is required but competitors must be able to swim.

For more information contact Downham Market Town Council on 01366 387770

Are you taking part in the dragon boat racing? Email

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