Ipswich Maritime Festival: What Went Wrong?

Discussion in 'Local Politics' started by dan5, Aug 21, 2017.

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  1. dan5

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Ipswich Maritime Festival was the largest and most prestigious event in the Ipswich calendar of the hundred or so events within the Ipswich borough... how did it go from well-loved local maritime festival to 'okay' over-commercialised food and drink event?

    Let's reflect back on past successful maritime events...

    Ipswich Maritime Festival 2014

    Does anyone miss the following? A little step back in time with these workshops...

    oldpastimes.png oldpastimes2.png oldpastimes3.png oldpastimes4.png oldpastimes5.png

    Did anyone say Vikings?

    This year's event was supposed to have a Viking theme!

    Might have to wait 100 years for 1200... :D

    Anyway, the Viking theme from 2014...

    viking.png viking2.png


    From Engine rooms to sailing... (well, propelled...)

    engineroom.png sail.png

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  3. OP

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member


    Ipswich Maritime Festival 2015

    Does anyone miss the following?

    Sea shanties...



    Canon and rifles...



    Craft & workshops...


    WW1 & Ships...

    WW1.png ship.png
  4. OP

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    More photos


    flags.png waterfront.png music.png


    Even a Batmobile...


    2017 event was dumb down without much maritime theme... Day One and Day Two (Fireworks) and in the last couple of years getting progressively worse.

    We would like the original Ipswich Maritime Festival back!!! This modern adaptation from the Ipswich Waterfront Celebration is very poor in comparison. As a county town we need to attract a bit more than the 60,000 figure quoted.
  5. martinc

    martincFounder Member

    Agreed, you've done a good job highlighting all the bits missing this time around.
  6. OP

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    Can Ipswich Borough Council really call it a maritime festival?

    Without the above elements I cannot see it as a being a maritime festival, although if it was an Ipswich Waterfront Food & Drink Festival, I would see it more spot on, and as Ipswich Waterfront Celebration, would pass.
  7. martinc

    martincFounder Member

    OK, a few more thoughts. If you are going to have so much international food then stick it all together in a proper themed food court area with lots and lots of seating and tables so people can actually eat the stuff in comfort. Promote it as such, and people will come and will appreciate it. Maybe even get traders to offer small sample portions so you can try more than one thing. But don't forget some cover as well. Had it have rained over this weekend then no one would have sold even 1 german sausage. Various people have commented that they could find; the vikings, the open boats you could go on, they didnt know there was a beer festival in the church. Hardly surprising any of that, where was the programme, where was the map of the event? No point in doing any of this without letting people know whats going on. Someone said, "why no punch and judy this year" well there was, it was in Arras Square, again that could have been in the programme and the poor guy would have then had an audience of more than one grandad and his granddaughter.! Maybe get a programme sponsored so you can give it away, or charge a nominal amount. Of course you do need a programme of actual events if you have a programme, an we actually had more or less nothing . None of this is rocket science, its all basic stuff when planning an event. I've been involved in such things with several thousand attendees and if you don't tell people what's actually going in you may as well not bother...

    Star seem to have taken a few comments in to their article now but Facebook comments approaching 100 last time I looked, and all saying very much the same things.

    What i would love to see in Ipswich is a summer time event of the magnitude and popularity of the Bury Christmas Market. Why could we not do that, fill the whole of the town up with stalls, food, activities, entertainments, from Christchurch Park all the way through to the Waterfront. Or even combine it all with Music day, and a revived Carnival, make it massive. I reckon we have a better setting for such an event than a lot of other towns/cities. Turn Trinity Park in to a giant park and ride if it needs it. Make it a massive celebration of Ipswich, the Oldest Town in England or whatever claim we have...
  8. OP

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member

    The maritime festival will always struggle on numbers... this year there were less floor space for people to stand. Which compresses people together and makes it look busier. They are claiming 60,000 people... for 2 days of 12 hour events, I make that 2,500 per hour, every hour average. I find this highly unlikely. If events were elsewhere than the wet dock/waterfront then perhaps they counted half the people in the town centre? :D Pie in the sky...

    They need to look outside the box... the maritime festival can happen at the waterfront but have several events taking place that weekend. If you have a weekend event when both days are the same except the fireworks, people will pick a day... if we are looking at day visitors you want to ensure they stay overnight in a hotel. You would want to ensure you organise the event over a bank holiday weekend - despite the competition with other likely events elsewhere. You are always going to be competing, you need to make sure you are the desirable event to go to.

    Satellite map with all reasonable areas to compliment the Maritime Festival... separate events but simultaneously on. Nothing to say you need this many haha but perhaps most over 2-3 days. All reasonable walking distance but can always offer transportation also.

    Let me give some random off-the-top-of-my-head events (not thought through):-
    • Ipswich Waterfront/Wet Dock: Maritime Festival
    • St Peters Street: street market/stalls
    • Alexandra Park: Multicultural/diversity festival
    • Holywells Park: Music Concert
    • ITFC/Alderman Road Rec Ground: Football event (meet players, penalty shootout etc)/Funfair
    • Christchurch Park (mansion forecourt): crafts/workshops stalls
    • Ipswich Regent/New Wolsey Theatre: not special events as such but evening entertainment for after day events
    • Cornhill/Town Hall: street performers/dance troupes/magicians etc.
    Anyway... the other year they did a week of Celebration of Ipswich or some nonsense... which is their version of the above spread thinly over a week. Paid by X-Fund. Of course, nothing to say you couldn't get Trinity Park, Transport Museum, Jimmys Farm etc. for additional events.

    They had a guide printed last time... Tried finding it through Google but no luck.
  9. OP

    dan5Founder MemberStaff Member


    Based upon the fact Glastonbury (Festival) is a series of fields near the town of the same name of just 9000 people (the actual village it is nearest to under 1000 population) which accommodates 135,000 people once a year before going back to being a farm, proves big events in Ipswich is possible.

    To put that into perspective, that is like the entire population of Ipswich settling on Southwold.

    All Ipswich needs is two big annual events.... one in the summer and one festive. Not rocket science. Of course, various people will be organising their own events through the year both big and small, but as a showcase two is enough. One would be good.

    I did some research and found out the only reason the events improved was the X-Fund (approx £100k if I recall in total for various things including that shuttle bus on Saturdays) and Ipswich Central pulled their weight to get back in for another term. Politics huh? If we say the Celebrate Ipswich festival cost as much as £50k from that budget... why can't the borough find £50k to spend for just once a year event? Put it into perspective they gave a £10,000 grant (see attached) for the Ipswich DMO to rebrand the Ipswich Central website. (Yes a third party website, but the same people) £500 would provide entertainment for the Cornhill...

    The borough likes loads of small events, it creates things for the little people to do in the holidays... they should be reaching out for tourists, day visitors and attracting our county folk. If visitors will travel to and enjoy it, the residents most surely will and have a good sense of pride it is happening in their home town.

    Not got a reply about the festive market yet... not looking hopeful for the 170 Years museum event... they didn't confirm receipt to my email with the application. Not sure if they will claim to have received it. Seemed very odd. Not sure what the odds are of Ipswich Day going down well with the council!

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