Bedford River Festival 2018 – What is? When is it?

Riverside Bedford provides a stunning location to watch the 40th Bedford River Festival, July 14-15. And with restaurants and bars from wagamma to Miller & Carter, Zizzi to Albero Lounge, Gourmet Burger Kitchen to Toast… you’ve not only got a fantastic range of foods to choose from, you also have a bird’s eye view of the entertainment!

When is this year’s Bedford River Festival?

This year’s event takes place from Saturday 14 July to Sunday 15 July. Now in its 40th year, the 2018 Festival is expected to be watched by more than 300,000 people. And the good news is – it’s free!

River Festival at Riverside Bedford300,000 people? That sounds busy. Where’s the best place to watch it?

Why not check out the bars and restaurants along Riverside Bedford? You can get a perfect view of the river and eat Italian at Zizzi; bag a burger at GBK; have a drink at Toast; get something a little spicier at wagamma; satisfy your sweet-tooth at Treat St; chill out in Albero Lounge or tuck into a steak at Miller & Carter.

So what’s happening?

A lot! On the river there’ll be competitions for the best decorated narrow boats and cruisers; an illuminated boat parade and a kayak slalom; you can take part Dragon Boat races on Saturday. And the day ends in a bang on with a fireworks display. On Sunday its teh big Carnival Parade plus lots more music and fun on the water.

Download the official Bedford River Festival 2018 event programme here.

Dragon Boat racing? I’ve always wanted to have a go at that!

Well now’s your chance! You can sign up to enter a Dragon Boat team, a raft race team, or to take part in the Carnival by getting an application form here.

That all sounds cool – but what if I want to do something else?

If water-based events don’t float your boat, there’s live bands in Russell Park, a carnival, fête, funfair and events run by local community and sporting groups. There’s also a Heritage Village to commemorate the end of the First World War 100 years ago and St Mary’s Garden will be showcasing local arts and crafts and a Continental Market with grub from around the world.

Live bands you say? Who’s playing?

Acts are still being confirmed but at the Bedford River Festival Main stage, Russell Park, the Embankment, you can catch Ginger Snaps, The Lottery Winners (currently touring with We Are Scientists), the Hempolics and the Dub Pistols. Check out the full line up for the main stage here.

Music at River FestivalToast Live Music Stage at Riverside Bedford

Riverside Bedford is excited to be the dedicated food and drink court for this years River Festival. Alongside the great restaurants and bars to be found at Riverside Bedford, Toast is adding:

  • a Live Stage from 12 pm to 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday with local artists/bands performing in the sun
  • Outdoor Gin Stalls
  • Outdoor beer and ale stalls hosted by Blackpit Brewery
  • Cocktail bars
  • Great food to take away or stay in

Win Dinner and a Movie at Riverside BedfordWin a Dinner and a Movie

We are celebrating River Festival and a glorious Summer by the river by giving you the chance to win dinner and movie in our prize draw. One lucky winner will get two tickets to Vue Bedford and a £30 voucher to spend at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Open to UK residents aged 18 and over. See full terms & conditions

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Made in Bedford at the River Festival

Take the footbridge by Albero Lounge at Riverside Bedford and head over to St Mary’s Gardens for Made in Bedford. You’ll from some of Bedford’s top artists, designers, producers and makers selling their work in the Made in Bedford marquee.

wagamama Riverside BedfordWatch the Carnival Parade

On Sunday 15 July, the Carnival Parade processes past Riverside Bedford along Horne Lane and through St Paul’s Square.

Sounds good… where do I get tickets for that and how much are they?

It’s free! You don’t need a ticket.

Where can I download the full programme?

Download the official Bedford River Festival 2018 event programme here.

What do people say about it?

Robert Harriman on Facebook: “What a brilliant weekend event this is. We love it. Well done to all involved in making it happen.”

Peter Gatland on Facebook: “I’ve been to every River Festival since they started in 1978. It’s a time when the people of Bedford come together. I think it’s great.”

You say it’s been going forty years? Wow, that’s some achievement!

Dead right. It’s now held every two years but first took place in 1978 to celebrate the completion of a navigable water route between Bedford and the coast.

Anything else I should know?

Yep – it’s the town’s biggest and most popular tourist event.

Where can I find out more?

Keep an eye on the festival’s Facebook page 


Image Source: By Simon Speed [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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