DROITWICH Spa is set for a massive tourism boost when thousands of people flock to this weekend’s St Richard’s Festival.

The annual event, which will run from Friday, May 3 to Monday, May 6, will run alongside the ever popular Classic and Vintage Car Rally.

This year’s event will also be joined by a boating festival, which means that for the first time it will run over three days and offer a greater range of attractions for residents and visitors alike.

The event kicks off at 7pm on Friday with live music and a real ale bar in Vines Park. Canal boats will be on display for the duration of the weekend along with a mediaeval encampment, community and craft stalls, and boat trips on the Pamela May.

On Saturday, May 4, the Plantagenet Medieval Society will be putting on a display in Vines Park featuring squire training, musicians, dancing and armour demonstration. Other attractions include ferret racing, the mayor’s flotilla of historic boats – which will travel along the canal at noon carrying local mayors and civic guests – and the duck race at 3.30pm.

Droitwich Spa Mayor, Councillor Anne Taft, will then unveil the new mural at Netherwich Basin depicting Captain Kidd’s last adventure.

Over 100 classic and vintage cars will be parked up across the town centre where visitors can view a wide selection of vehicles through the ages. The car rally raises funds for Midlands Air Ambulance and will be joined by an example of a helicopter used by the service.

Saturday will see the return of the popular Italian Market. There will also be a craft and farmers’ market in Victoria Square and morris dancing to entertain visitors. St Andrew’s Church will host an art exhibition by Droitwich Arts Network that will feature paintings, photographs and poetry depicting the town’s heritage.

Visitors to St Andrew’s Square Shopping Centre can enjoy art activities, stilt walkers, giant bubbles and puppet shows.

Dodderhill Tower will be open during the morning offering spectacular views over Droitwich Spa. Visitors can also have a go at bell ringing.

On Sunday, May 5, there will be a Cycle Festival in Vines Park featuring Olympic WattBikes, Dr Bike, pedal powered smoothies and cycle information stalls. Families are encouraged to bring along their bikes for a fun quiz cycle ride along the canals.

There will be plenty of activities to entertain children in the Vines Park on Monday, May 6. In the morning, Droitwich Arts Network will be running an art competition along with puppets and storytelling in the marquee. There will also be an animal rescue zone, with a selection of animals and charity stalls and a duck race at 3pm.

Live music in the marquee will be a feature of the weekend, both during the day and in the evening.

The festival will also see a resurrection of the old tradition where the brine pit was decked with greenery and tapestry to celebrate the life of St Richard. Upwich Brine Pit, the Old Pump in Gurneys Lane and St Richard’s Statue will be decorated with floral displays.

The markets open at 9am on Saturday with the main festival starting at 10am each day.

Janet Yates, Droitwich Spa Area Partnership Manager, said: “The addition of a boating festival and new entertainment and attractions is a real boost for the event and it means we can now run it over the whole of the bank holiday weekend.”

Full details of the festival can be found at strichardsfestival.co.uk For more information contact Janet Yates on 01386 565355 or email janet.yates@wychavon.gov.uk