With the weather turning much colder, we are swiftly taken back to memories of January 2023. The chill in the air and the early morning crisp frosts transport us back to the start of what has been a remarkable year In Ely.
Beginning with January, the team at Visit Ely didn’t let the festive break slow them down. 2023 was a big year for Ely, with the celebration of the 1350th Anniversary of the founding of the site of worship that would become Ely Cathedral being at the heart of the plan. However, as with every year, the calendar really opens up for Visit Ely with the launch of the Visitor Guide. A wonderful handbag, jacket pocket and hand friendly publication containing many of the incredible things to see and do in Ely, that is then distributed the length and breadth of the UK and even internationally! A lot of hard work goes into this annual project and yet, when that pallet of boxes containing the years supply turns up…. No one can resist the excitement of opening the first box and having a look through that initial copy. The best bit is knowing that it will soon be in the hands of people, letting them know that Ely is the place to visit, any time, any season.
It would be great for the team to sit back and look upon a job well done but that’s not how it works! With the close of one project, the next one begins and it’s another annual affair – Ely’s much loved Eel Festival Weekend! Taking place on the first May Bank Holiday weekend, featuring two events over three days, a parade with giant eels, thousands of attendees, much fun and laughter it really has become a staple of the calendar. This year had a Coronation theme to come inline with the national celebration of the ascension of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. It was three incredible days, attended by thousands of people and for the first time ever, Ely’s Eel Parade was captured from the sky!
Before and after the Eel Festival Weekend various fantastic events took place to celebrate the 1350th Anniversary, ranging from an incredible exhibition at Ely Museum looking at a remarkable archaeological dig within Ely that revealed objects and remains that would go on to wow the world. The summer months saw Ely come to life with Ely Arts Festival, Aquafest and so much more – these much loved annual events with their rich histories were complimented perfectly with several new and wonderful additions to Ely including Ben’s Yard, the shopping experience and dining location just outside Ely, in Stuntney , that opened in mid 2023. Ben’s Yard features a range of independent retailers ranging from a flourist to a butchers, a homewares store and women’s fashion.
It was also mid 2023 that saw the launch of the Visit Ely mobile app, a true harmonization of the very fabric of Ely – a city where Medieval meets modern. With a comprehensive directory of all the retail, attractions, facilities and more within Ely along with Events, treasure hunts and walking route the Visit Ely app truly puts the city we all love in the hands of people around the globe. We’re sure you’ve already downloaded it, but if you haven’t click here!
The year moves on and so does life at Visit Ely – with the harvest getting ever closer our thoughts turn to the Apple and Harvest Fayre which this year spread across two sites – Palace Green and Cross Green! Possibly one of the best attended Apple Days in the 20 plus years of its existence, it was a true testament to the love and appreciation this quirky event holds for local people and those from further afield. With Apple and Spoon races, “Longest Peel” competition and a whole host of other activities there really was something for everyone, and everyone enjoyed it!
Just when the dust settles and thoughts turn to Christmas and the nights begin to draw in, Visit Ely turns its attention to our regular autumnal offering of Ghost Walks and other spooky tours – one of the scariest elements is just how quickly they sell out!
Talking about spirits, spirits remain high at Visit Ely and as if the year has passed in the blink of an eye, the seasons have been and gone, we find ourselves once again planning the Visitor Guide! This coming year is a “golden” opportunity to Visit and Celebrate Ely. Inf fact it’s really quite special – Ely will be celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary of being awarded City Status so keep an eye out for commemorative events that will be happening next year.
Whilst we busy ourselves in the final month of 2023, before a much deserved festive break, and a roaring return in 2024, we would like to take a moment to thank every single person who makes Ely the incredible place that it is; To live, to shop, to visit, it is the sum of its incredible parts and we couldn’t be more proud and honored to share that with the world.
Signing off, and looking onwards,
The Visit Ely Team