Platinum Jubilee celebrations in East of England - from woollen wonders to parties in the park

The bunting is going up, the final layers of icing are being applied to cakes, and the excitement is reaching fever pitch as East Anglia prepares for a right royal celebration to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

A four-day bank holiday will get under way in the UK on Thursday as the country pays tribute to the Queen's 70 years of service.

Ahead of those celebrations, the Suffolk Show in Ipswich, which returned this year after an absence because of Covid, closed with a special Jubilee pageant.

The show's Grand Finale kicked off with the arrival of the Festival of Suffolk Torch Relay in the Grand Ring.

The pageant at the Suffolk Show on Wednesday. Credit: ITV News Anglia

For the past few weeks, the torch relay has been on a near 600-mile journey around towns and villages across the county to mark the jubilee, with more than 200 "local heroes" being selected to carry it.

The torch relay was welcomed to Trinity Park by a 500-person strong pageant, which consisted of military personnel, emergency service workers and marching bands in the largest assembly of people ever gathered in Suffolk.

Down the A12 in nearby Colchester, the local parachute regiment have been busy rehearsing for a 42-gun salute in Castle Park on Thursday.

The parachute regiment in Colchester preparing for Thursday's gun salute. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The spectacle will work as a double celebration, with Colchester, which was once known as Britain's oldest town, having just been named a city as part of the jubilee celebrations.

Local pictures of past jubilee bashes will also be projected onto Colchester Castle on Thursday evening.

"Like anything in the military, this has to be rehearsed over and over again until it becomes muscle memory," said Aden Philpott, from the 7th Parachute Regiment.

"But the boys are enjoying it and it's a great break from our usual routine. On the one hand, we're digging in trenches one week, and then the next week we're putting our boots on to do a bit of marching."

Lucy Davenport driving the classic Jaguar. Credit: ITV News Anglia

For Lucy Davenport from Kenton Hall near Stowmarket in Suffolk, her big moment will arrive on Sunday.

She will be driving a classic Jaguar in the official Jubilee Parade in London, where she will have a celebrity Dame in the back.

Ms Davenport, who is one of seven chauffeurs, will not know the identity of her passenger until the day, and she says she cannot wait to find out who it is.

"Maybe it will be Prue Leith, Twiggy or Joan Collins? I don't mind who, but it will be rather exciting," she said.

"It's being televised to over a billion people globally, which I'm trying not to dwell on! I'll probably be more nervous about my Dame being in the back, but if we get round safe and sound, I will then enjoy a glass of fizz as a relief!"

The 'Party in the Park' will take place in Norwich's Eaton Park. Credit: ITV News Anglia

For those not lucky enough to be in London, the celebrations will not be any less extravagant, with parties planned all over the region.

One of those will take place in Norwich's Eaton Park where there will be a Party in the Park on Saturday celebrating the city's diverse community.

The free event has been organised by the Norfolk Black History Committee and will feature live music, arts and crafts, stalls and exotic food.

"We're really excited because it's literally our first time organising such an event and we're hoping it will be a great success," organiser Eunice Kokrasset told ITV News Anglia.

"We're just praying for the weather now and we're hoping everyone can join us to have this beautiful, colourful community getting together for one purpose - celebrating our lovely Queen."

A group of locals knitted the model of the Queen. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Celebrating the Queen is something they will also be doing in the village of Caston near Watton in Norfolk.

A group of locals have knitted a life-sized model of Queen Elizabeth II in her coronation robe from 1953.

The knitters spent six months and used a thousand balls of wool to create the masterpiece which will sit in pride of place in the church over the coming days.

"The church is a focal point in the village," Bridget Ann Hall, the church warden, said.

"Her Majesty will be looking over everything that's going on and she will be very much the centre of attention for everybody this weekend."

This year's Northampton Beer Festival will coincide with the Platinum Jubilee. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Of course, many people will be using the Bank Holiday weekend as an opportunity to have a few drinks and catch up with family and friends.

Not least at the Northampton Beer Festival, where glasses will be raised to commemorate the monarch's 70 years on the throne.

"It's just going to make it one big massive weekend because there's parties everywhere," said organiser David Bailey.

"Northampton's got quite a few parties going on. We've got the biggest party in Northampton going on. I think it's going to be amazing with loads of people coming down."

Katherine Jenkins speaking to ITV News ahead of Friday's concert. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Queen is expected to spend the Jubilee in Windsor and London, but at the royal estate at Sandringham, where she has made so many happy memories, events will still be taking place in her honour.

On Friday evening, classical singer Katherine Jenkins will be performing a special outdoor concert where she will be joined by the Military Wives Choir.

"I think it's just a really lovely opportunity for people to come together, and show Her Majesty how grateful we all are," she said.

"This is such a historic celebration, it's never happened before. I think people just have to enjoy it. There are so many different ways to get involved."

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