Sound. Colour. Action. Bored? Never!

To be bored in Ely is to be bored with life… that was the gist of a conversation with an Ely local a few weeks ago.

With this last weekend in Ely full of sound and colour, there was little chance of being bored.  Cleddau was moored alongside the Riverside Park,  a few hundred metres from Jubilee Gardens, the ‘bandstand park’.

Quite early on Saturday morning the boom of a public address system, songs and a rhythmic beat indicated that there must be an event going on…

And there was!

A fiddler,     a guitarist and a drummer    were playing hard on the Jubilee Gardens bandstand. People of all ages were gathering on the grass    and there seemed no shortage of refreshment provision.  

(Wince at the misspelt plural and redundant apostrophe here…)   

It took a few minutes to appreciate what the event was about. Then the riot of colour, the rainbow flags and rainbow bunting,    the rainbow hats and rainbow flashes on the police and firefighter uniforms,    the rainbow tutus worn by small children,    the rainbow stoles draped round young adults’ shoulders made sense    –  at which point the MC drag queen (Felicity Flaps)      announced a welcome to Ely Pride.

Emergency and health services were well represented on the site,


as was the Royal Air Force.  

Yoga for children sessions were available in a quiet area of the Gardens   and several owls displayed by the Raptor Foundation proved quite a draw.


There was a wonderful atmosphere as people gathered, talked, sang, danced, ate, laughed . A rainbow flag flew from the top of the cathedral  (see photos here ) and the Mayor seemed to find plenty of people to talk to.


The Ely Pride Festival proved a vibrant distraction from the business of the day. A visit to the market was still to be done as well as another wander in the Cathedral area.

The Saturday market stalls offered all sorts of trinkets, pottery and hand-made craft objects. Who would not be entranced by the bright colours of these pots…?           There were pots made locally and pots made in Poland. There were handsewn bags and purses made from beautiful fabrics sourced overseas. So much to look at, but little time to do it…

Then, early afternoon, a highly polished WEDDING SPECIAL bus was spotted outside the Cathedral’s West Front.


Rousing hymn singing with descant harmony soared through the Cathedral. . Soon the wedding party and guests emerged through the Choir’s brass gates, greeted each other part way along the nave before bride and groom walked out through a storm of confetti!


Anything else in Ely this summer weekend? Well, paddle boarders    and boaters of course, the Wississippi Jazzmen on the Bandstand on Sunday afternoon    – and a visiting choir, The Howells Voices at Cathedral Evensong. It’s a 4pm service, which was so well attended on Sunday that the stewards pleaded with those already seated in the congregation to share the service sheets as the stock had run out… Glorious voices in a glorious, centuries-old setting – marvellous!

And then, by way of a further treat, there was a free Organ Recital given by one of the Ely organists.      Via the magic of modern technology the audience could not only hear the virtuosity of the player but also watch his performance. A closed-circuit camera relayed the action from the organ loft onto a large screen placed under the Octagon facing down the nave. The hands of Edmund Aldhouse flashed over the four keyboard consoles, slickly adjusting the banks of organ stops, while his feet danced over the foot pedals. The large audience remained transfixed throughout the hour-plus performance.

Ely then is a place of fun and frolics, contemplation and civilisation. Why, even the well-stocked bookshop (Topping & Company Booksellers) is open until 7pm on a Sunday evening… and should folk be short of refreshment there are plenty of wine bars, restaurants, cafes, tearooms and pubs.

So, conclusion: there is plenty to distract a bored individual in this lovely fenland city!

Distance from marina mooring to Riverside Park mooring: approx 150 yards…

Onward now down the Great Ouse, planning to divert down the Little Ouse, the River Wissey and the Relief Channel before crossing back onto the Middle Levels.

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