The 5th Broads Outdoors Festival was launched with a fanfare today against the iconic backdrop of St Benet’s Abbey.
Dozens of VIP guests, representatives from partner organisations and members of the press gathered at the historic site in the heart of the Broads to cut the ribbon on the festival.
The festival, which features different events across the Broads from 2 to 17 May, is a celebration of the wealth of activities on offer within the Broads National Park and has become a major feature on its calendar.
Kicking off with the Horning Boat Show on Saturday it is organised by the Broads Authority and Broads Tourism and supported by sponsors Hoseasons and media partners Archant.
The aim of the festival is to attract more visitors and locals to enjoy activities in the Broads that they might not otherwise try and to do this out of high season.
In her speech at the press launch Jacquie Burgess, Broads Authority Chairman, spoke of the festival’s value and the record-breaking number of events this year both on water and on dry land.
“The festival has grown every year and this year it includes nearly 200 events, a record,” she said.
“Many of the mills and wind pumps are hosting guided tours, local museums are opening at night, it’s possible to learn how to charm worms (although I’m not sure why!) before embarking on a wherry trip while knocking out a quick watercolour of the passing landscape.
“One aim of the festival is to offer taster sessions, why not have a go at paddle boarding, canoeing, geocaching, craft workshops or wildlife photography for example?”
With 26% of the rarest wildlife in the UK, more than 300 kilometres of footpaths, 122 miles of rivers and more than 60 shallow lakes the Broads is a special place which is worthy of further exploration by locals and visitors alike, said Prof Burgess.
She thanked all those who made the festival and the press launch possible, including Waveney Stardust, which runs Broads cruises for the elderly and disabled, for providing boat transport to the Abbey and Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden for providing boat transport and refreshments.
She also spoke of the joint partnership work between Norfolk Archaeological Trust, the Broads Authority and Friends of St Benet’s Abbey to improve access to, and understanding of, the historical importance of the landmark.
Katie Lawrence, Chair of Broads Tourism and Hoseasons Brand Manager, said: “We really do want to make sure that as many local people as possible get to hear about the festival over the next few weeks, so my message to you is be proud of what this wonderful place has to offer and tell as many people as possible about what’s going on!”
Roger Tomkins, Organiser of this year’s Horning Boat Show, said: “I was on the executive committee when the boat show started three years ago to bring something really special to Horning village which is such a beautiful place.
“We didn’t know when we started whether we would get 10 people or 100 people, we got 5,000.”
He said the show was on track to get 5,000 visitors again this year and had improved different areas and the range of activities on offer, including food, music and aerobatic displays along with marine displays.
All proceeds from Horning Boat show will go to causes within the village.
A digital flipbook programme for the Outdoors Festival and an interactive calendar of events is on www.OutdoorsFestival.co.uk