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English Festival in Gillingham, including St George's Day celebrations

By Angela Cole

St George, building sandcastles and going on the helter skelter - could there be anything more English?

Aside from going to the pub and having a brew, they sum up some of what it feels like to be English, and this weekend, you can celebrate all of them with a special annual event.

The English Festival in Gillingham will this year be combined with St George’s Day festivities for a fun-packed - and free - festival. It may be held at Riverside Country Park, but a trip to the beach will also be on offer, and there will be the chance to make sandcastles - so bring your bucket and spade.

Arthur and his knights, the cast of the Kentish Players version of Spamalot at the English Festival in Gillingham last year Picture: Andy Payton
Arthur and his knights, the cast of the Kentish Players version of Spamalot at the English Festival in Gillingham last year Picture: Andy Payton

There will also be pirate workshops, Shire horse displays, steam engines and tractors. George and the Dragon will also be out and about meeting visitors. The festival falls on Easter weekend - it will be held on Easter Saturday, April 20 - so get ready for Easter egg hunts too. There will also be donkey rides, fairground attractions and stalls to browse.

Cllr Howard Doe from Medway Council said: “The English Festival marks the start of Medway’s festival calendar and I would encourage residents and visitors to come along and celebrate St George’s Day with us.”

It will run from 11am to 5pm and at the park in Lower Rainham Road. Details at medway.gov.uk

Town Crier Mike Billingham, from Gillingham at last year's English Festival Picture: Andy Payton
Town Crier Mike Billingham, from Gillingham at last year's English Festival Picture: Andy Payton

DETAILS

The English Festival will be held at Riverside Country Park, Gillingham on Saturday, April 20 between 11am and 5pm.

St George’s Day itself is on Tuesday, April 23.

GETTING THERE

If you’re packing up the family and a picnic (don’t forget your bucket and spade for the sandcastle) for the English Festival on Saturday, here’s all you need to know.

Park and Ride costs £1 per person, for a return, with under 16s free. You can catch it from Greenwich University – look out for the yellow Park and Ride signs, with buses running from 10am to 6pm.

As English as... a cup of tea
As English as... a cup of tea

For Park and Walk it costs £3 per vehicle at Bloors Wharf (at the bottom of Bloors Lane, off Lower Rainham Road) and the walk from there is around 15 minutes along the river path.

Parking on site is limited and costs £5. Parking will primarily for blue badge holders.

Riverside Country Park is covered under the Medway bus routes but the Saturday bus service does not enter the country park site so there will be a short walk involved.

David Wilde's Punch and Judy show at last year's festival at Riverside Country Park Picture: Andy Payton
David Wilde's Punch and Judy show at last year's festival at Riverside Country Park Picture: Andy Payton

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