Downham Market set for festival celebrating New Elizabethan Age

Downham Carnival Parade ANL-140526-134534009
Downham Carnival Parade ANL-140526-134534009
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Organisers of Downham’s annual festival say there’s something for everyone as the week-long programme of festivities gets underway this weekend.

More than 20 separate events will be taking place at venues around the town during the eight-day event, which begins tomorrow with a pageant in which the festival’s king and queen will be chosen.

The theme of this year’s festival, the 42nd, is the New Elizabethan Age, in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Denise Whiley, secretary of the festival committee, said the theme was intended to reflect on both the monarch’s and the nation’s achievements over the past nine decades.

She said: “It’s how everyone wants to think about it.

“We felt, in respect to her, we had to make it our theme this year because not every country has a monarch that lives to 90.”

Tomorrow’s pageant begins at 10.30am in the town hall, with registration starting at 9.30am.

As well as a festival king and queen, princes and princesses will also be chosen in three categories: Little for children aged four to seven, Junior for eight to 11-year-olds and Teen for 12 to 15-year-olds.

As ever, one of the main highlights of the festival will be the carnival on Bank Holiday Monday, in which a parade of floats will leave Heygates Mill at 12.15pm, reaching the carnival site at the Howdale approximately an hour later.

The festival will formally open at noon on Sunday when its flag is raised at the town hall during a French cafe event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the town’s twinning arrangement with Civray.

Sunday will also see a fun day held on the Howdale including vehicle and pet shows.

And organisers are particularly keen for people to reserve their places for the Mamma Mia singalong evening next Thursday, June 2, a quiz evening set for Friday, June 3 and the closing bingo evening on Saturday, June 4.

Those events, along with most of the festival programme, are due to take place in the town hall.

Mrs Whiley said the bingo, along with several new events for youngsters, had been arranged in direct response to requests from residents following last year’s festival.

She said: “We work for the town and we’ll put on what the people want.”

To find out more about what’s planned, visit and search for Downham Market Festival.