Huge crowds flock to river festival back on the water in Bedford after Covid

A famous river festival is attracting hundreds of thousands of people on its return after Covid.

The Bedford River Festival usually takes place every other year, but has not been held since 2018.

It takes place along the town's embankment over two days and is a big boost for businesses.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "It really does seem like it's been a long wait. We normally hold it every two years and it really does feel that people have been waiting a a long time for this. People normally say is it a River Festival year or not? That's how we figure years out. Great to have it back. Great to be on the river and great to see so many people having a good time."

It costs the council around half a million pounds to put the festival on. But it recovers more than half of that in sponsorship and concessions.

And it is estimated it will pump around £6 million pounds into an economy still recovering from the pandemic.

Boat racing at the Bedford River Festival Credit: ITV Anglia

Emily Ord, Marketing Manager at Bedford Bid, said the festival was a team effort.

"There's been such a great appetite for it. Our role as a wrap up and doing over all promotion for the town and for the businesses, we've had so many of them get involved. We've made new videos so we can show them off at their best. Some people have been opening specially just for this weekend so they can catch the traffic."

The festival featured dragon boats and raft races on the water and also a display of classic cars in the town centre.