Maritime Festival 2018

We were promised a bigger & better event than last year and an event to remember, but did 2018’s Maritime Festival live up to this promise?

Two main criticisms were levied at the Borough Council after last year’s Festival; the pre-event and on-the-day publicity was poor to virtually non-existent and there wasn’t enough of an acknowledgement of all things maritime.

maritime festival ipswich waterfront 2018

2018 was indeed different.  The build up to the weekend was well-managed in terms of social media interaction and IBC’s events team and communications team planned and shouted about a weekend full of events and attractions.  The pirate & sailor theme was also well-known, evidenced by getting to see many visitors in acknowledging fancy dress.

Last year, the on-site marshalling was also called into question; as cars, vans & lorries vied for position in the early Saturday daybreak, only to find in some instances that pitches, gazebos etc had not been sited correctly - or sited at all.  This year was so much better, with marshalls assuming their roles with competence and customer focus and seeing to the job of getting the Waterfront Life team – and others - to its correct spot with ease.

The Waterfront had a calmness to it during the Festival’s set-up phase this year, which did not detract from the atmosphere, but did mean that stallholders were in positive mood from get-go, something that didn’t happen last year.  A neighbour of our stall – close to the Salthouse – went on record to state that she was delighted with the professional approach that organisers showed this year and how she was looking forward to the weekend so much more than had been anticipated by her team of volunteers.

maritime festival ipswich waterfront 2018

Saturday seemed to welcome the crowds slightly later this year, with the area not getting particularly busy until late morning.  However, conservative estimates from seasoned festival goers had crowd numbers at 30,000 by the end of the first day and by early afternoon, the atmosphere was fantastic.  Whilst the ‘daytime fireworks’ on Saturday afternoon were a waste, all other aspects of Maritime’s first day were spot-on.  Drink was flowing at many pop-up outlets, including the main focuses; the island site’s large marquee and the marina’s main food & drink area between Cult and Aurora.

The first evening had a holiday feel about it and whilst the weather wasn’t as hot as during previous weeks’ weekends, 1000’s of people were enjoying alfresco dining at the many food venues – both permanent/existing marina settings or pop-ups.  Prices were generally very acceptable for the occasion, but I baulked at one piece of signage that demanded £8.50 for anything that came off the venue’s makeshift barbeque.

There wasn’t an entirely obvious reason to switch the firework display to the Saturday night, but it worked well and at 9.45pm the first brightly coloured flashes were greeted with the accustomed whoops, oohs & ahhhs.

maritime festival ipswich waterfront 2018 fireworks

With Saturday a resounding success, more of the same greeted residents and visitors on Sunday, with the weather holding firm and allowing the vast majority of traders to report much better weekend figures than last year.

The BBC music stage was a real highlight with some top-notch entertainment and the atmosphere from that area; with its provision of food, drink, music and fairground rides was festival fineness. 

IBC should be very proud of Maritime 2018, should continue to demand and act on feedback and will then be well placed to deliver better and better festivals in years to come.

Bravo Ipswich’s Jewel in the Crown…..bravo.