Great crowds for Leeds Waterfront Festival

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A huge crowd turned out to celebrate Leeds’ waterways on Saturday as festival organisers prepare for a new world record attempt.

The 10th annual Leeds Waterfront Festival, which runs all weekend along the length of the city’s waterways, aims to celebrate all that is special about the four-mile stretch.

Date: 24th June 2017.'Picture James Hardisty.'10th Anniversary of the Leeds Waterfront Festival 2017. Pictured Dragon boat racing at Leeds Dock.

Date: 24th June 2017.'Picture James Hardisty.'10th Anniversary of the Leeds Waterfront Festival 2017. Pictured Dragon boat racing at Leeds Dock.

Saturday saw the start of the dragon boat racing alongside a street food festival, while there were boat trips, vintage markets and barge gigs, before the big attempt today to break the world record for the largest paper boat race.

And with crowds of up to 20,000 expected over the course of the weekend, organisers say it has so far proved a huge success.

“It’s about getting people to come and connect with the waterways that we’ve got in Leeds, but also just to enjoy it as well,” said Mike Marshall of the Canal and Rivers Trust.

“The dragon boat racing is always the most popular. But there’s the smaller things as well - the street entertainment, the children’s playing area, the boat trips.

“It’s a really great atmosphere, especially with the dragon boat racing as everybody gets behind their team. People are walking around with big smiles on their faces - there’s a real buzz.”

This is the 10th annual event and celebrations are taking in 11 destinations from Armley Industrial Museum to Thwaite Mills in Hunslet.

As well as dragon boat races at Leeds Dock, canoe tasters at Granary Wharf and boat trips from Armley and Thwaite Mills, there are musical barge gigs from Leeds Dock to Nostrop Lock.

Along Calls Landing there are vintage and makers’ markets, street food and live music, and today there will be the grand finale - the world record attempt.

Those taking part are invited to help build paper boats in workshops at The Tetley ahead of the race at 3.30pm, with the current record to beat being 250.

Jen and Tris Margison, who live at Brewery Wharf, said this year’s event seemed bigger - and better organised than ever before.

“It’s so nice to have it here on our doorstep,” they said. “It’s a great atmosphere, and it’s really busy. And there’s so much going on this year!”

Simon Tipple, of Hyde Park, was one of those driving the water taxis.

“It’s been hectic!” he said. “We’ve got so many people wanting to have a turn. This is my fifth or sixth time doing it, but there does seem to be a great buzz about the place today.

“There’s such a lot going on. The dragon boat racing really brings people out, and I’m just enjoying the street food.”

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