The Royal Wedding is not the only reason to cheer this month – Ely’s Eel Festival is back and this year a whole host of activities are planned for the whole weekend to celebrate.
The main event is on Saturday 30 April and all the usual favourites are back such as the National eel throwing (don’t worry they are stuffed toys), the carnival procession from the city centre to the river and re-enactments highlighting Ely’s heritage and historic association with the eel.
Starting at 10.30am, the procession led by ‘Ellie the Eel’, Ely’s Samba Band and Town Criers will start from Cross Green next to the Cathedral and head along part of the City’s Eel Trail Heritage Walk, down to the Waterside ending in the Jubilee Gardens.
In the gardens there will be a range of activities including: basket weaving and tanks of real eels brought by the Environment Agency and Peter Carter the last eel catcher in East Cambridgeshire will also be on hand to answer questions.
Later in the afternoon there will be dance exhibitions, a town crier competition and an Eel Conga Finale.
Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: "Eel day is more than just one event now - it is a full on weekend of eel related fun. It begins on the Friday with the celebrations for the Royal Wedding at Ely Cathedral then on the Saturday - the Eel Festival fun begins. It all begins with the procession with 'Ellie the Eel' leading the way with the samba band from the city centre to the Jubilee Gardens where the party will continue all day long.
"From the world famous eel throwing competition (don't worry they are only toys) to the eel displays and eel catcher - there is nothing you can't learn about eels if you pop along. We will also have a range of events going on over the Sunday and Monday with walks and parades taking place across the city. The beauty of the festival is it has become an event involving a wide range of community groups and organisations to show how proud Ely is to be known as the capital of the humble eel."
There are plenty of other events taking place over the weekend. On Sunday 1 May, there will be a Scouts Parade at 1.40pm in the Market Place which will travel though to Ely Park where Scouts and Guides will renew their promises.
Then on Monday 2 May there is a Song & Dance in Jubilee Gardens at 11am featuring dancers from the Octagon Dance Studio and Goldsmith Singers. As well as an Eel Heritage Walk leaving Oliver Cromwell House explaining the importance of the eel trade.
Also on the Monday there will be a food & craft speciality market between 10am – 4pm where there will be a great range of stalls with a variety of crafts and foods to taste and try.
During the Ely Festival Weekend people can collect a copy of the newly published Eel Trail along with our Royal Quiz insert for free from the Tourist Information Centre at Oliver Cromwell House. Quiz sheets will be available throughout the Festival Weekend and returned forms will be entered into a prize draw to receive a unique Gift Hamper with a strong eel and royal theme.
For further information about the day, contact Aileen Sharp, Tourism Development Officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council on 01353 616397 or check out the website at www.eastcambs.gov.uk/tourism.
Notes for editors
For further information contact Tony Taylorson in the Press and Public Relations Office on 01223 699285.