River Deben Summer Festival promises fun for all the family

There’s something for everyone in this week of events and activities in East Suffolk

River Deben Festival
River Deben, Woodbridge. Photo by John Fielding via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Looking for something to do during the school holidays? Then the Deben Summer Festival is for you! The festival describes itself as ‘an inaugural collective of events from source to sea along the River Deben.’

The River Deben Association (RDA) has co-ordinated the week of activities. The festival packs in exhibitions, experiences and events put on by local organisations.

The objective is to get people out of their homes and doing things. At the same time, the festival is intended to help businesses, clubs and charities recover from the economic fallout of multiple lockdowns. 

Deben Festival has lots of outdoor activities

With new covid case numbers remaining stubbornly high, one of the great attractions of this festival is that so much of it is held outdoors.

The Deben Festival runs from Saturday 7 August to Sunday 15 August, and takes place in various locations up and down the River Deben. The RDA originally contacted pubs, clubs, restaurants and businesses inviting them to take part. 

RDA membership secretary Moray McPhail challenged them to respond to this message: “[i]f you run a pub, it could be a beer festival, quiz, live music or a BBQ. If a sports club, try-it-out sessions, games, races. Or well-being sessions at your spa, author signings at your bookshop, exhibitions at your gallery, talks at your museum, walks by birdwatchers, demonstrations by boatbuilders…

“Anything by anybody, just something to look forward to which can be adjusted to suit whatever social distancing restrictions are still in place in August.”

And respond they did!

Deben Festival: something for everyone

The festival kicks off with an early morning opportunity to paddleboard from Waldringfield on Saturday.

Over the course of the week, there’s everything from a vintage sellers’ market to art exhibitions, an open air cinema, a marine centre exhibition, poetry and song, live music, tea tasting, storytelling, and plenty more. The calendar of events has something for everyone, from juniors to seniors. 

If you live further afield, multiple activities throughout the day, every day, make a day trip worthwhile. For some, it may even involve bringing your own boat!

An overwhelming response from local organisations

Martin Waller, one of the Festival organisers, said:

The momentum behind the Festival is gathering fast.

Whether you want to see a Chinese Dragon boat launched, or enjoy a display of Venetian rowing craft, or just kick back and enjoy music, art or fun and games up and down the River Deben, it is all coming together.

This is going to be a great event. The response has been overwhelming, and far beyond what we had hoped for.

Let us hope the gods of weather are kind. The forecast is good.

About the river and association

The River Deben – pronounced ‘Dee-ben’ — runs through east Suffolk, rising west of Debenham, where it’s little more than a stream. It passes through the picturesque market town of Woodbridge. On the opposite bank are the grounds of Sutton Hoo, the site of a group of Anglo-Saxon burial mounds from the 6th and 7th centuries. The river broadens into a tidal estuary that enters the North Sea at Felixstowe Ferry.

The River Deben Association was created in 1990 as a local interest group. Its aim was to represent all those concerned with the future of the Deben and its surroundings.  The Association now has more than 800 members.

The Deben Festival website says: “The Deben Summer Festival offers a platform for a celebration of sunshine, community spirit, our beautiful river and you!”

You can find a complete list of events by date here. If you have any questions, email the organisers at: events@debenfestival.org

Please do consider attending and supporting the organisations taking part.

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