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Park Events

Bedford Borough Council actively encourages its parks to be used for events and other community activities to ensure that there is plenty to see and do in Bedford.


Interested in Organising an Event in Bedford?

If you would like to use a Bedford Borough Council park or open space in which to run an event, take a look through the application pack below to find out how to apply. Completed applications can be emailed to events@bedford.gov.uk or for more information contact the Events Team on: 01234 228759.


Alternatively you can complete an online event booking form here


In order for your event to be booked into the parks diary, along with your event booking form we will require a  risk assessment and a copy of your public liability insurance (£10million or above).


N.B. If your event includes use of the River Great Ouse or waterways regulated by The Environment Agency, you must complete and submit the following River Great Ouse New Event Form


If you are new to running events, or would like some additional guidance, we have also created a handy 'Guide to Organising Safe Events' to support you through your planning and delivery.


Events on Parkland Application Pack

Guide to Organising Safe Events


River Festival Raft Race


Bedford River Festival 2018 - 40th Anniversary Event

Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th July


Bedford River Festival is back this coming July for its 40th anniversary and planning is very much underway to make it a celebration to remember!


River Festival Programme 2018

To have an insight into the layout of the site before you arrive, to located your favourite stage or to plan your festival weekend hour by hour, take a look at the 2018 River Festival programme HERE



If you are a trader and would like to get involved by hosting a stall over the weekend, then you can apply by clicking on the Traders Application Pack below. All of the information you should need is contained in this document, but be sure to get in touch with any additional questions. 

River Festival Traders Application Pack


River Races

If you fancy a challenge then why not enter a team into the hotly contested Dragon Boat Races or raft races (but be prepared to get splashed)! Application forms and further details below.

River Festival Dragon Boat Racing Application Form

River Festival Raft Race Application Form



Last but not least, if you would like to take part in the Festivals’ Carnival Parade to promote a community group, team, or company or just to dance your way round the streets of Bedford then be sure to complete the following application form. With a new route proposed for 2018, you can be a part of something special!

River Festival Carnival Parade Application Form


N.B. Community Stage slots are now fully booked.


Bedford River Festival Sunday Stroll / Nordic Walk

Bedford Borough Council in association with Walk2fitness invite you to take part in a Stroll / Nordic Walk around the Bedford River Festival site on Sunday 15th July commencing at 10 00 am in St Mary’s Gardens.

To register to join this walk click here


River Festival image 1


40th Anniversary Celebrations - A look down memory lane...

As part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations, we are requesting any long standing festival goers to send us any pictures that you may have taken way back in the early days of the River Festival event.

So if you have any images of the 1978 festival (or 1980-1990) that you can share with us, we would love to hear from you! Just contact us via the details below.

N.B. Images may be used for future publicity.  


We would like to say a special thank you to all of our 40th Anniversary River Festival sponsors and supporters;

RF Sponsor

For the first time we are proud to welcome Bedford Heights to the Bedford River Festival, sponsoring the exciting new part of the site: St Mary’s Gardens, opposite the new Riverside Bedford Development. Bedford Heights provide a range of services to the Bedford business community and beyond, including space to rent, conferencing, desk space, virtual addresses and the fantastic onsite Graze Café.


Bedford Heights was built by Texas Instruments in 1960. The building was installed with a cyclone-proof roof, being a blue print lifted from the Texas Headquarters at that time in Dallas. External window glazing was replaced in the 1980s. In 1999 the building was transformed into fully managed office spaces ranging from 180 to 28,000 ft2.


Bedford Heights was bought by Verve Developments 2014, who are embarking on a programme of improvements to enhance the space. The developer has instigated a phased programme of improvement and refurbishment throughout the building which will include a new entrance and reception.

For more information please visit https://bedfordheights.co.uk/



RF Sponsor


The British Friendly are another new and welcome sponsor to the festival, sponsoring the Dragon Boat Racing in St Mary’s Gardens. British Friendly are a mutual Society and has no shareholders to pay which means they are managed and run solely for the benefit of their members. Founded in 1902 to provide sickness benefits for Commercial Travellers, British Friendly has over a century of experience and expertise in serving its members.


They offer a range of products and services from their traditional investment linked policies Holloway and Century, to Protect and Breathing Space, their pure Income Protection policies which are sold by Financial Advisers throughout the UK. They have also provided and managed the staff benefit fund for British Airways since 2002. British Friendly were recently awarded with 5 stars by Defaqto, an independent financial researcher in the UK.

For more information please visit https://www.britishfriendly.com/



RF Sponsor


It’s a welcome back to BedfordBID who once again are supporting the festival in their sponsorship of the festival big screen in Russell Park.


Bedford BID provides a wide range of services and support to local Bedford businesses. Love Bedford is the brand of BedfordBID, Bedford's Business Improvement District, which is funded by almost 600 town centre businesses with the aim of providing a fun and safe environment for customers to keep them coming back for more.

For more information please contact http://www.lovebedford.co.uk/



RF Sponsor


A long-time supporter of the festival, the Eagle Brewery (now part of Marston’s) are once again sponsoring the Bridges across the festival site. Located in Bedford, the Eagle Brewery embraces different perspectives. It means that while others may move cautiously, they soar fearlessly. Like the eagle that looks over their brewery, they take a different view.


For more information please visit http://www.marstons.co.uk/beers/?brewer=eagle&tour=j



RF Sponsor


Another welcome long term sponsor and supporter of the festival is the Harpur Centre. The Centre will once again be sponsoring the main stage in Russell Park. The stage, always a focal point of the festival, hosts local and regional bands and acts across the festival weekend.

The Harpur Centre, Bedford’s premier shopping centre, is open seven days a week with over 30 stores trading over two levels. National brands including, Primark, Boots, WH Smith, Topshop, Specsavers, Greggs, Pandora and Fraser Hart provide everything you need under one roof alongside unique independent stores and a host of mobile phone providers.

The centre is currently undergoing an exciting refurbishment, Centre Manager Sam Laycock said: “The whole team at the Harpur Centre are so excited to have started on our refurbishment works. We are investing millions of pounds to make the Harpur Centre the best that it can be and improve the shopping experience for everyone; we know that the works are an inconvenience, but all I can promise is that this is a short term pain for a fantastic long term gain, fundamental works have started to change the atrium, remove the spiral, open up the basement and bring the centre into the 21st century.


RF Sponsor

The Harpur Trust has had a long and fantastic association with the River Festival and that continues for 2018 with the sponsoring of the Community stages on Mill Meadows. Hosting 32 bands and acts over the weekend the stages are a mecca for local bands giving many their first experience of live performing.


For over 450 years The Harpur Trust has been inspiring and supporting the people of Bedford to help them improve their lives. We want everyone to have pride in our community and to realise their own potential.  We give grants to local community projects, we support, provide and promote education, we look after older people in our almshouses and other accommodation and we make social investments.

For more information please visit http://www.harpurtrust.org.uk/



RF Sponsor


We are pleased that Carpets 4 Less, another long-time supporter and sponsor of the festival, are for the first time sponsoring the firework finale on Saturday evening.

The carpet factory outlet that gives genuine low prices, the store in Bedford is ready to serve you. They supply quality flooring for both immediate takeaway and order and offer excellent prices that beat all their competition. 

All Carpets 4 Less flooring is sourced from the best of manufacturers so you can be assured of the lowest prices, superb quality and great service. They also provide a measuring and estimating service, expert fitting and home delivery.

For more information please contact http://www.carpets4less.com/



RF Sponsor


We are pleased to welcome Leaders as a friend of the 2018 Bedford River Festival.


The popular town of Bedford is a great place to live, so it is no surprise it is home to such a busy and vibrant property market. From young professionals to families and older people, there is something for everybody in the area. Leaders is proud to operate a town centre branch and our team offers a full range of sales, lettings, buy-to-let, auctions and mortgages services to local people. Contact their team of local property experts today to find out how Leaders can help you make your next move.

For more information please contact https://www.leaders.co.uk/branches/bedford


RF Sponsor


The University of Bedfordshire are once again supporting and sponsoring the Sports Village at the festival.

The Sports Village on Longholme Island provides interactive displays and demonstrations drawing on sporting activities from around the borough.


The University of Bedfordshire is a modern, innovative university with a heritage of top quality education going back more than 100 years. We nurture our students to become educated, employable and entrepreneurial global citizens.


We support our students in all aspects of their life and encourage them to influence the education and services we provide.

For more information please contact https://www.beds.ac.uk/




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For further enquiries please contact:

e: events@bedford.gov.uk

t: 01234 228759

Facebook: Bedford Events

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Bedford Borough is a vibrant area to live in with an abundance of leisure opportunities for residents and visitors. We pride ourselves on offering a fantastic programme of cultural events throughout the year, and providing a wide range of affordable health opportunities, through our quality parks, award winning leisure centres and sports development work.


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