2011 is very important year for the Ironbridge Gorge as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Gorge being designated as one of the country’s first World Heritage Sites. Across the year a wide range of special events have taken place; such as the ongoing exhibition of historic and contemporary images of the Gorge at Jackfield Tile Museum. The highlight of the celebrations will be on Saturday 24th September with the annual Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival.
This spectacular free family event starts at 12pm in central Ironbridge. Visitors will be able to enjoy a traffic free Wharfage and browse a wide range of high quality market stalls selling all kinds of unusual goods and crafts such as unique items of jewellery and handmade home ware, and delicious fine foods including artisan cheeses, gourmet sausage rolls and crepes. Visitors can also find out more and support local community groups and charities that will also have a number of stands with fun activities.
Street performers, such as stilt walkers, historic characters and buskers will be entertaining the visitors, as well as local and community bands and musicians who will be performing in the Square and outside the Swan Inn. Highlights include the Jackfield Brass Band, a choir, a Barber Shop Quartet, a rock band and even Kung Fu demonstrations and Morris Dancing.
Families can join in the Art Workshops held in the Merrythought Village and help decorate a huge 16-foot wall with images of various landmarks along the Gorge. The artwork will form an exhibition about what the Gorge means to the local communities that live, work and play in it. Youngsters can also take a ride on a donkey around Dale End Park, engage with a range of family activities and enjoy a ride on the Fun Fair.
For those looking to explore the rest of the Gorge they can hire a bike from the Bicycle Hub and explore a section of Route 45, while Jackfield Festival goers can visit Maws Craft Centre where there will be fantastic demonstrations including traditional historic crafts and steam engines.
As the evening draws-in the market stands will continue to trade and the Iron Bridge, along with other buildings, will be illuminated in spectacular style, with a wonderful firework display ending the evening at 8pm.
Vanessa Harbar, World Heritage Site Officer commented; “A huge amount of hard work has been put in by local people and community groups to make this year’s Festival the best there has ever been in order to celebrate the 25th Anniversary. We are especially grateful to the sponsors of the event Capgemini, Ricoh and E.on, as without their support it would not have been possible to hold such a wonderful celebration.
I hope that people from across Telford and Shropshire will come down to the Ironbridge Gorge on 24th September to join in the celebrations, enjoy the wonderful entertainment and marvel at the evening illuminations”.
Visitors are strongly recommended to use the free and regular Park and Ride service that will operate from Darby House in Telford to get to the event, as parking in the Gorge will be limited and priority given to Blue Badge holders. In addition the Gorge connect will be running free of charge till 8pm that evening.
The fun continues on Sunday, 25th September at Maws Craft Centre where visitors can join in ‘The Largest Art Event’. Aspiring artists can come along and sketch, paint or make something connected with the 25th anniversary from 12-4pm. Call Lena Chum 01952 883190 to find out more and let her know you are attending.
For those wanting to learn more about the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site there is an extensive programme of walks and talks put on by local experts and enthusiasts from 19th -25th September. Walkers can explore the newly interpreted lime kilns and Sabbath Walks and discover more about the bridges across the River Severn. Fascinating insights into the history of the Gorge will be revealed at the various talks on subjects such as ‘Ironbridge Then and Now’ and ‘The Ancient Monuments of the Gorge’. These can be booked in advance by calling 01952 435900.
Full details about the World Heritage Festival and Walks and Talks Programme can be found on www.visitironbridge.co.uk , alternatively call 01952 433424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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