Festival is the r-eel deal



Ely’s Eel Festival Weekend is returning this May and there are a whole host of activities to get involved in.

The fun begins on Saturday 5 May with all the usual favourites back from eel throwing (don’t worry they are stuffed toys), a carnival procession from the city centre to the river and re-enactments highlighting Ely’s heritage and links with the eel.

The procession begins at 10.30am, led by ‘Ellie the Eel’, Ely’s Samba Band and our visiting Town Criers starting from Cross Green next to the Cathedral and heading along part of the City’s Eel Trail Heritage Walk, down to the Waterside ending in the Jubilee Gardens.

In the gardens there will be a range of activities including: tanks of real eels brought by the Environment Agency, the opportunity to meet the last eel catcher in East Cambridgeshire and the chance to taste smoked and jellied eels.

Later in the afternoon there will be dance exhibitions from May Pole Dancers to Shani Belly Dancing, a town crier competition and an Eel Conga Finale.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Eel day started from humble origins and has grown in stature and importance to become a weekend festival full of fun. It all kicks off with the procession with 'Ellie the Eel' heading an all singing and dancing procession from the city centre to the Jubilee Gardens where the party will continue all day long. There will be eel displays as well as the chance to quiz the last eel catcher in East Cambridgeshire plus historical re-enactments, dancing and some great local food.

“This year, we have some fascinating events taking place throughout the rest of the weekend on the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from learning more about life in the 17th century to the welfare of your dog as well as the chance to sing and dance in Jubilee Gardens. The festival has become an event which symbolises the community spirit in East Cambridgeshire and how incredibly popular the celebrating the humble eel has become.”

On Sunday 6 May, it will be Living History Day at Oliver Cromwell House both inside and out where visitors can hear from Mrs Cromwell about how she made eel pie to tales from re-enactors camped outside the House.

Finally on Bank Holiday Monday 7 May there will be:

•    a Family Fun Day and Dog Show at the Country Park in Ely from 10.30am to 4pm where dog owners can enter their pets into a show, try out flyball or ask an expert about any dog related problem.
•    The Friends of Jubilee Gardens will be holding a ‘Song & Dance’ by the river at 11am with the help of the Octagon Dance Studio and local singing groups.
•    An Eel Heritage Walk will leave Oliver Cromwell House from 11am where visitors will discover the importance of the eel trade and how it shaped the history of the city.
•    Bank Holiday Flower, Food and Craft Market between 10am and 4pm on the Market Place.

For further information about the day, contact Aileen Sharp, Tourism Development Officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council on 01353 616397 or check out the website at www.visitely.org.uk.