BOATS of all shapes and sizes will be making their way to Stratford River Festival this weekend.
Narrowboats, cruisers, tugs and others will be moored up along the Avon at the Stratforward-organised festival on Saturday and Sunday (July 6 and 7).
Avon Navigation Trust, organisers of the river during the festival, are full to capacity and have a lengthy waiting list of boaters desperate to get to the popular event on July 6 and 7.
Trust engineering director Roger Clay said: “The boats bring another dimension to the festival. People are fascinated by them and love looking at them and talking to people who live, or spend a good deal of their time, on boats. They want to know what life is like on the waterways.
“In terms of water-based festivals, the River Festival is probably the most popular and has the biggest attendance. The location is a major draw, and the fact that there’s a prime tourist town within walking distance.”
And this year, scores of vintage Russell Newbery engine enthusiasts chose to hold their annual rally in Stratford for the first time, to coincide with the festival.
Boat owner and Russell Newbery rally organiser Andrew Laycock : “As a veteran river festival visitor myself, I know how fantastic the event is and how big the crowds get. It has such a unique atmosphere, so laid back, with such a range of good food and of course good music.”
And visitors will have the chance to win a free boat trip when they vote for their favourite in the Best Boat Competition.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to descend on the town for the festival, which will also feature live music, a craft market, and plenty of food and drink.
Saturday’s entertainment will culminate with the festival’s traditional fireworks display.
The festival is not confined to the river banks, with activities spilling into the town at Bell Court with a Beside the Seaside themed free face painting and live music.
Visit www.stratforward.co.uk/events/stratford-river-festival for further details.