by sian | Jun 21, 2017 |

A Brief History of Aldeburgh Carnival

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If you’ve never joined in the celebrations and festivities of the annual Aldeburgh Carnival (although we wonder how you’ve missed it), then make 2017 the year to get stuck in!


This year’s carnival, held on the 19th – 21st of August, marks the 75th anniversary of this much beloved event, with the theme of ‘Amazing Aldeburgh’. As a result of this momentous occasion, proceedings have inevitably been stepped up a notch. Celebrations will begin with a Carnival Prom at Snape Maltings on Friday the 18th, with Pixie Ward (the eldest living relative of Andrew Charles Ward, the mayor who in 1927 added the Carnival element to the annual ‘Ye Olde Marine Regatta’) hoping to make another entry at the age of 89. 

For those wondering what all the fuss is about, all we’d say to that is: “you’ve clearly never been to Aldeburgh Carnival!” Organised by volunteers with donations from the previous year providing the funds, this is a celebration that despite changing and evolving over the years has remained much the same in spirit and essence, evident in everything from the bunting-strung High Street to the traditional fairground rides of years gone by. It really does embody the best of Aldeburgh; quirky, fun and individual to its core.

First known as ‘Ye Olde Marine Regatta’ (which can still be found on the festival programme today), early incarnations of the Carnival were led by a carnival king Neptune,
who emerged from the sea in a boat pulled by locals. Swimming and sailing competitions alongside a race between local Lifeboats were amongst the original celebrations; the swimming races were for a trophy known as the Aldous 20 Guinea Challenge Silver Cup, which is still being competed for 100 years later (although it is probably worth quite a bit more than 20 guineas today!).

Aldeburgh is certainly fortunate – whilst many other towns have been forced to give up their traditional carnival throughout the years, the continuing appeal of this event means that it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Fancy staying in Aldeburgh during Carnival week? Both Suffolk Cottage Holidays and Suffolk Secrets have a selection of fantastic properties in Aldeburgh and the surrounding area just waiting to welcome you to Suffolk!


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