Ely came alive with a weekend of festivities for the Eel and Food and Drink Festival

Ely Eel Day, the parade in the High Street,

Ely Eel Day, the parade in the High Street, - Credit: Archant

The streets of Ely came alive with the hustle and bustle of a carnival atmosphere when the popular eel and food festival came to the city over the bank holiday weekend.

Ely Eel Day, the parade in the High Street,

Ely Eel Day, the parade in the High Street, - Credit: Archant

City mayor Lis Every said it was an event that made Ely proud and one which just got better every year.

“It is a massive celebration that takes a lot of hard work by many people across the city and brings in hundreds form across the region.

“The celebrity chefs were amazing, the range of food fantastic. The whole city came alive. What an amazing event,” she said.

The weekend kicked off with an eel throwing competition followed by a parade led by a giant eel.

Ely Eel Day, (l-r) Joshua Noble, and Steve Bambord, from the Crusade Society, with 3rd Ely Scout mem

Ely Eel Day, (l-r) Joshua Noble, and Steve Bambord, from the Crusade Society, with 3rd Ely Scout member Edward, - Credit: Archant


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Ely businesses battled it out for the glory title of furthest eel thrower. Winner for the second year running was Neil Blanchflower from Sutton-based firm, Whizzle, who threw 13.1m.

Second place was Mohith Uddin, from Sylhet, who threw 11.8m while Ely News reporter Jordan Day came third with a throw of 11m.

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Ely’s Samba Band and town criers set off from Cross Green next to the Cathedral and headed along part of the city’s Eel Trail Heritage Walk, down to the Waterside ending in the Jubilee Gardens.

In the gardens there was folk music, a town crier competition, dancing, historical displays, the world eel throwing competition, basket weaving and tanks of real eels brought by the Environment Agency.

Ely Eel Day, pupils from Lantern Dance School,

Ely Eel Day, pupils from Lantern Dance School, - Credit: Archant

Also there was an eel food safari which saw restaurants and cafés producing special festival dishes like eel shaped biscuits, jelly eel fudge and moj-eel-tas cocktail.

There was a food and drink festival on Palace Green. The event supported by G’s Fresh saw a fantastic line up of chef demonstrations from stars such as Valentine Warner, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Alex Rushmer.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: ““This year’s Eel Festival has again gone way beyond our expectations - we had thousands and thousands of visitors over the four days.

“From the Eel Parade to the events on Jubilee Gardens and the fantastic chefs in our cookery theatre - there was something for everyone.

“I would like to thank all those people who helped the weekend to be a success - from those who took part, got involved with running stalls and visited the city. We are already thinking of the ways to make next year’s Eel Festival bigger and better to build on this wave of enthusiasm for all things eel related.

The eel is synonymous with the Isle of Ely ever since the city paid over 80,000 eels to Peterborough for stones to build the cathedral. So it makes sense to us to celebrate the humble eel and its part in our history. “Every year, our festival gets bigger and better – so from an event which used to last a day – we now have a four day extravaganza.”

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