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Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival attracts record crowds (28th September 2011)

Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival attracts record crowds

This year’s Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival, held on 24th September 2011, has been branded a huge success by the event organisers, with record crowds of approximately nine thousand people across the day attending the celebrations.

This year’s event was of special significance as the Ironbridge Gorge is celebrating 25 years since it was designated as one of the UK’s first World Heritage Sites, alongside Stonehenge and the Giant’s Causeway and 3 other sites. The Festival marked the high point of a year-long calendar of special events, exhibitions and activities put on by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

Visitors enjoyed  a traffic free Wharfage, the road which runs parallel with the River Severn and browsed a wide range of high quality market stalls selling unusual goods and crafts such as unique items of jewellery, handmade homeware and delicious fine foods. Families were able to take part in art workshops, have their faces painted or even have a ride on a donkey or the fairground.

Street performers, such as stilt walking Victorian policemen, historic characters and buskers were especially popular with families, whilst the local and community bands and musicians attracted large and appreciative audiences at the two performance areas. 

Elsewhere in the Gorge Festival goers were able to hire a bike from the Bicycle Hub and explore a section of Route 45, while at Maws Craft Centre there were fantastic demonstrations including traditional historic crafts and steam engines.
As dusk fell the Iron Bridge was transformed into a magical apparition, as the multi coloured floodlights illuminated it in spectacular style. Up on the Gorge side giant images were projected onto the trees whilst other buildings were bathed in coloured light. A huge crowd gathered at the centre of the town to watch a grand firework display that ended the evening.
Martin Saxton, Operations Manager at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums and event organiser commented:

“After months of planning and weeks of hard work by so many different people and organisations, it was wonderful to see the crowds turn up and enjoy this great event. We are incredibly grateful to all the hundreds of people who have helped make this event possible, the local residents for all their cooperation and to our sponsors, Capgemini, Ricoh and Eon for all their support. Seeing the Festival enjoyed by so many people has made it all worthwhile”.