For the third year running, Peterborough Celebrates Festival at Ferry Meadows (18-19 May) has been declared a resounding success, with record numbers of visitors and overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

The festival all started with the pre-festival Big Top Cinema on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 May, making the most of the festival site set up and building the festival anticipation. 700 cinema-goers arrived for four different films across the two evenings in an array of fancy dress costumes, ready to sing a long and enjoy the festival atmosphere.

Saturday 18 May and Sunday 19 May saw the sun breaking through the clouds and festival visitors flocking to enjoy free performances and a wide range of activities for all the family. We estimate from car parking data and visitor counters that around 25,000 people attended the festival across the weekend. In addition, Nene Valley Railway reported that 720 tickets were sold for the festival shuttle train service, a significant increase on tickets from last year.

Throughout the weekend, festival-goers were treated to a wide range of performances, such as music, theatre, dance, and activities including art and community workshops and have-a-go sports and games. In total there were 44 different performing groups which consisted of about 250-300 individual performers, providing approximately 42 hours of free live entertainment! Performers ranged from local music and dance groups such as Peterborough Rock Choir, Wansford Ukelele Folk, Peterborough Opera, Indian dance group Ritu Ranga and Latvian children’s dance group Kastinitis to renowned professional acts such as acrobats Mimbre, Vanhulle Dance, Pif-Paf Theatre and Xidus Pain. The Silent Disco, a new addition to the Big Top, was a huge hit and we welcomed 12 local buskers to entertain festival-goers from the new pop up stage in the bar tent.

Community groups from across Peterborough were at the heart of the festival. 28 local organisations had festival stalls showcasing what they do and 13 different community groups decorated large wooden hearts which were dotted around the centre of festival site for visitors to discover and explore. The community Heart Bunting display had an amazing impact with 2,084 hearts made from recycled materials and decorated by 49 different community groups, schools and care homes, all incorporated into a heart shaped installation.

The festival finale saw a dramatic Hindu Holi Colour celebration in front of the main stage. Festival-goers gathered together to throw coloured powder paint in the air and at each other in a joyful celebration of the arrival of spring and to mark a colourful end to a fantastic festival weekend.

The festival couldn’t have run without the generous corporate sponsorship from AEPG, Caterpillar, Greenwoods, Savills, Hegarty Solicitors, We Love Peterborough, Term Times family magazine, P&DAA, Peterborough Cathedral, Tony’s Ices, GCE Hire and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Feedback is still coming in but here is what three festival-goers said: “Well done everyone! You have brought joy and pride to the city!”, “Such a success! Brilliant event, really well organised and superb for the kids!” and “Got to be the best event in the city’s calendar. So much diversity and variety with the performers, lots of activities for the kids and great to see so many people coming out to support the festival.”

Thank you to all our festival visitors too for coming along and celebrating the city with us over the weekend. We are keen to make the festival an annual fixture in the city’s calendar and so we have already set the dates for next year. Please put the dates 17-18 May 2025 in your calendar and we look forward to seeing you again for more celebrating of our city then!