Excitement is mounting in Felixstowe as the town prepares to host the start and finish of Stage Five of this year’s Tour of Britain cycle race.
A celebratory Love Felixstowe festival will be staged ahead of the big occasion on Thursday 7 September, when the international cycle race sets off and culminates in front of crowds along the seafront.
Free events and activities are taking place in the town centre and along the seafront from this Saturday as part of the festival, organised by East Suffolk Council and Felixstowe BID (Business Improvement District), in partnership with Felixstowe Town Council.
The fun begins at 10am on Saturday 2 September with live music, food demonstrations, and barbecue served by Felixstowe Lions Club, near the Triangle area of the town centre.
European cycling experience booker, Kwaremont Travel will be leading two bike rides around Felixstowe, while The Mariners Freehouse hosts an afternoon of maritime song with five shanty crews from across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.
A beachside events area will stage an early screening of the hit Disney film Moana and an evening showing of singalong favourite Mama Mia, interspersed with live music throughout the day, alongside information stalls and activities for the family to enjoy.
Lego brick building workshops will be led by the Brickologists at nearby Felixstowe Leisure Centre, the Brickologists, while the Suffolk Coastal Pétanque Alliance will be organising a competition for newcomers to the game at the recently unveiled activity park between Sea Road and the Promenade.
More film screenings, live music, demonstrations and fun activities are planned at the beachside events area and surrounding venues throughout the weekend, including an aerobatic monoplane display scheduled for 4.30pm on Sunday afternoon. Art on the Prom will also return, following a four-year break, as part of Sunday’s festivities.
A mobile skatepark will visit Beach Street from 10am on Monday, when visitors to the beachside events area can have a go on a climbing wall and take circus lessons, before testing their football skills with the Ipswich Town Football Club Foundation in the afternoon.
Caroline Topping, Leader of East Suffolk Council, said: “We’re excited for the arrival of the Tour of Britain next Thursday and proud that Felixstowe has been chosen as the start and finish venue for Stage Five of the race.
“The Love Felixstowe festival is a chance for everyone to join in the celebrations ahead of the big day and I would like to thank everybody involved who has enabled this to happen.”
Cllr Seamus Bennett, East Suffolk's assistant cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, as well as Mayor of Felixstowe, said: “There’s so much for people to do during the Love Felixstowe festival in the days leading up to the Tour of Britain.
“The programme is packed with activities and entertainment – and that’s a reflection of just how much the town has to offer.”
Felixstowe BID's Kate Cain added: “With six days of events across the town planned, including the welcome return of Art on The Prom and, of course, the Tour of Britain stage start and finish, it’s looking like a fantastic ’season finale’ here in Felixstowe.
“We’ve been attracting attention in the news lately, and this special festival will only add to our recognition, not as just a great seaside resort, but a thriving town with lots to offer.”
Events continue into the week, with a full list of the activities available at the Love Felixstowe website, including a 10km community bike ride and 100m sprint challenge on the day of the race.
Speedy Sprinter and the Big Bike Race trail characters are also hidden in shop windows along Walton High Street, Felixstowe High Street and Beach Street as part of a sticker collection challenge taking place in towns across Suffolk ahead of the big day.