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Free Wifi for Stratford Town Centre

Oct 2015


Stratford’s businesses, shoppers and visitors will soon be able to use a new free WiFi service set to be installed across the town centre by the end of the year.

Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) announced the plans at its Annual General Meeting on October 1st with the system set to go live in November. 

With support and a financial contribution from Warwickshire County Council, BID manager Karen Wild said it was an ideal opportunity to embrace the ‘Digital High Street’ and the enormous benefits which that would bring.

She said: “Such a scheme will bring obvious positives to the many thousands of people who visit our town whether it’s on business, as part of a leisure break or on a shopping trip.

But the service will also be a boost to shops and businesses in Stratford as it will provide information on those using the WiFi, allowing traders to see key statistics including how long people stay in town and how often they visit.

It will also allow Stratforward to message users about various upcoming events and promotions to keep visitors up to date with all the latest information. These will be scheduled to make sure users aren’t bombarded with information and they will have the option of opting out of the service.”

The county council is working with other partners across the county with the aim of facilitating WiFi roll out across Warwickshire’s main town centres.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, said: “The introduction of free and fast public access WiFi is about equipping our town centres with the technology infrastructure for the future. 

The way we use our town centres is changing and we recognise that visitors to the town centre, be they shoppers, businesses or service users, want to browse the internet, use email and social media whilst they are going about their business.

By embracing this trend we can help to enhance the visitor experience to our town centres and hope that they will want to spend longer there, making our town centres more vibrant and economically viable.”

Karen Wild added that the scheme had also been given the backing of town centre businesses.

She said: “We carried out a survey of levy payers in August and 85 per cent of the replies said they would like the BID to invest in town-wide free access WiFi. It shows we are in tune with the needs of businesses in this digital age.”

The system will be installed by Midlands-based Elephant Wifi who have worked with the county council, Rugby Borough Council and Rugby First – the Business Improvement District – to enable free WiFi throughout Rugby town centre.

Stratford's Food Fest Thumbs Up

Sep 2015

TV chef James Martin gave a huge thumbs up to Stratford Town Centre Food Festival after foodies from all over the country converged on the town for the three-day extravaganza.
Up to 60,000 festival-goers enjoyed the free event, exploring taste and ale trails, discovering and sampling food from more than 70 stalls, listening to live bands and enjoying top demonstrations and workshops.
The celebratory chef packed out the Waterside Cookery Theatre with his three demonstrations on Sunday and said organisers may need to find a bigger venue to cope with the crowds.
He said: “It’s been so busy – the whole place is packed. I think you need some bigger streets because there are thousands and thousands of people here.  You need more space and a bigger tent!
“As a newbie to the festival it was a little bit like the first day at school. You don’t really know what you are gong to find but it is better than I expected by a long way. Everyone has a smile on their face and the weather’s great."
“As an event I can’t fault it. The organisation has been excellent and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Another TV chef, Simon Rimmer, was the star turn on Saturday and a number of local chefs also put on demonstrations over the three days, while hands-on workshops – including a number for children – were arranged around the town centre.

The event was sponsored by Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar and managing director John Lea admitted it had been a huge success. He said: “I think it is fantastic to put on such a great event for the residents and visitors in the heart of Stratford, and to be able to offer this with free admission."
“For us it was great to be involved and to meet the organising team, local dignitaries and celebrities – so many people have worked hard to bring this event to fruition."
“The highlight for us at Loxley's was to host the celebrity charity dinner with Simon Rimmer on Friday, raising money for the Shakespeare Hospice and the Stratford Hospital Cancer and Eye Appeal. We’re already looking forward to next year!”

Crowds up Bridge Street
Chef James Martin

3.  Busy Barry The Butcher 




Chefs ready for Food Festival showtime

Sep 2015

Some of the town’s leading chefs will be passing on a few tricks of trade when they take centre stage at next week’s Stratford Town Centre Food Festival.

And they will be joined in the festival’s Cookery Theatre by two leading TV chefs, James Martin and Simon Rimmer.

With everything from a kids’ gingerbread class through to a masterclass on cocktails, there will be something for everyone during the event which runs from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20. And the best part is that all the demonstrations and classes involving Stratford’s finest chefs and barmen will be free.

Phil Bailey, from the Falcon Hotel in Chapel Street, is one of those showcasing his culinary skills on stage. On Saturday and Sunday he will be conjuring up some amazing fish dishes but it all starts on Friday with something totally different – decorating gingerbread men and women!

“It’s all about making food interesting for children,” he stated. “We will be there to help them with their creations – whether it’s a footballer or a ballerina.”

Phil has been head chef at the Falcon Hotel for nearly 12 months and was previously with Alveston Manor and Billesley Manor. And he is looking forward to his events on Saturday and Sunday when he hopes to show that cooking with fish need not be an ordeal.

“For me it’s all about simplifying things and demystifying the whole cooking process,” he said. “It’s also about sustainability and using local producers when we can.”



The kids’ classes will be held on Friday from 4pm and are aimed at children up to ten years old.  Creating greek food is an option for children too.  This will be run by El Greco of Rother Street. 

Demonstrations in the Cookery Theatre on Waterside start at 11am on both Saturday and Sunday, with tickets for events involving TV chefs James Martin and Simon Rimmer costing £10.  All other demonstrations are free.

More than 50 local businesses will be involved in the festival, many of them taking stalls in Henley Street, Bridge Street and Waterside. There will also be entertainment on Bridge Street and Sheep Street over the weekend.

The main sponsors Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar will host a charity fundraising dinner with Simon Rimmer on Friday 18th, raising funds for Shakespeare Hospice and the Stratford Hospital Cancer and Eye Appeal.

Reserve your tickets now!  Go to 

Sponsored by 

Celebrity Chefs to Share Stage at Stratford's Food Festival

Aug 2015

Celebrity Chefs Share Centre Stage With The Best of Stratford at the All New Town Centre Food Festival!


Passionate producers and creative chefs are set to tantalise and tickle the taste buds at the all new Town Centre Food Festival sponsored by Loxley’s Restaurant & Wine Bar taking place from 18th to 20th September in Stratford.  TV celebrity chefs, James Martin and Simon Rimmer will share the stage with Stratford’s own culinary experts; their passion for food and creativity is sure to excite and inspire visitors to the Cookery Theatre. 

The town centre will be a feast for the senses with stalls showcasing every imaginable foodie delight from fabulous fresh ingredients, tempting hot and cold delights and everything you conceivably need to cook up a storm!  Restaurants around town are being encouraged to throw open their doors and come out into the streets, Sheep Street in particular is set to offer a truly al fresco dining experience.  Hot and cold foods stalls include Carluccio's wonderful wild & foraged mushrooms and truffles and, on the Saturday, there will be the superb Stratford’s Farmers Market on Rother Street.

Fantastic taste and real ale trails will add to the Festival atmosphere and showcase the unique and extensive food and drink offer Stratfordian’s and visitors to this beautiful town can enjoy.  Local chefs will take centre stage at the Cookery Theatre to provide free demonstrations throughout the event.

On Friday 18th the event will be launched in style as Loxley’s Restaurant & Wine Bar host a charity fundraising dinner with special guest Simon Rimmer.  This exciting event is a joint fundraiser in support of The Shakespeare Hospice and The Stratford Hospital Cancer & Eye Appeal.  Tickets are £75 and places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment on 01789 292128.

Tickets for the real ale trail, taste trail and celebrity chef demonstrations can be reserved online at and will be available for collection between 18th & 20th.

The event is organised by Stratforward BID who represent town centre businesses, and market contractor Geraud UK.   Stratforward Events Manager, Ruth Wood, said, “This festival is free to the public and we are delighted that more than 50 local businesses are taking part. There are still opportunities for more local businesses to get involved.”

For more info on the festival go to , twitter @FoodStratford.

From left to right Matt Humphriss Chef  El Greco, Phil Bailey Head Chef Falcon Hotel, Christian Mason-Baker Chef at Church St Townhouse




River Festival Photos

Jul 2015

Fantastic photos and compliments have flooded in for Stratford's seventh annual River Festival.

Many thanks to photographers including, Sam Allen, David Edwards and Mark Williamson and to many supporters on twitter.





The Best Stratford River Festival....Ever!

Jul 2015

The Best Stratford River Festival...Ever!

More than 70,000 revelers flocked to Stratford-upon-Avon’s recreation ground for last weekend’s free River Festival, making it the best Stratford River Festival…ever, in its seven-year history. 

Crowds gathered to see over 100 colourful river and narrow boats of all shapes and sizes, and enjoy world class bands, performers, a host of family entertainment, and a grand firework finale.  

Festival Organiser, Ruth Wood of Stratforward said, “We are delighted with the number of visitors at the River Festival and pleased with the feedback from town centre businesses involved.  It seems to be Stratford’s number one event on the social calender!  All accommodation in Stratford was booked up and the economic impact on the town was phenomenal.”

The View Restaurant is located at the recreation ground and its proprietor Carl Harrison commented, “The atmosphere was fantastic, as ever.  It was nice to see the local community and visitors come together and enjoy the Stratford spirit.” 

The One Elm’s Deputy Manager Mat Faulkner agreed, “The One Elm’s Pop up Bar enjoyed this great community event.  It’s been like home from home with so many of our guests coming both to the festival and to The One Elm.”
“What a fantastic weekend!  I’ve never seen Stratford so buzzing!  It’s great to be local girls supporting a local event.” said co-owner Nicola Yapp of The Little Gin Company.

The massive musical line included more than 25 singers, bands and groups.   The performers loved the vibe and award-winning singer –songwriter Kristy Gallacher of Coventry summed up how the performers felt, “Absolutely loved playing the Stratford River Festival – one of the best gigs I’ve had in a long time!”.  

On Saturday night, the headlining band Kinky Farnham, a 9 Piece Funk and Soul Band, was loved by all and helped make Stratford River Fest a night to remember.  The Saturday finale firework display was truly spectacular with an American Independence Day theme as it was July 4th after all! Local company Forest Fireworks provided the fireworks and received many compliments.

“This year’s success is a tribute to the hard work of those working in partnership including the Avon Navigation Trust, Avon Boating, Stratford Ambulance Association, Stratford District Council, Cotswold Markets, Stratford Marina, the traders, volunteers, and the generous financial support of the Stratford Town Trust.  Also the unsung heroes the boaters, who were up from dawn on Sunday for a giant litter pick to restore the site.” said Ruth Wood.

The Festival was organised on behalf of more than 450 town centre businesses - all members of the Stratforward Business Improvement District.  The free Festival Programme included a discount card which is valid for the next two weeks.  Organisers are encouraging people to show their appreciation for this highly popular free event by supporting Stratford town centre businesses. 




Jun 2015


A massive musical line up has been confirmed for next weekend’s Stratford Upon Avon River Festival.  More than 25 singers, bands and groups will take part in the two day extravaganza. 

Among the headline acts will be award-winning singer –songwriter Kristy Gallacher.  The Coventry youngster shot to fame after winning the prestigious LG Arena’s Singer/Songwriter contest.  

She has played in front of music legends such as Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood,  John Mayer,  Elton John, Paul Weller, George Michael and Roxette.

In addition to her own shows, she has supported stars like Ed Sheeran, Micheal Chapman, Scott Matthews, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Mr Big, I Am Kloot's John Bramwell, Miles and Erica (Wonderstuff) Mark Morriss (Bluetones), Show of Hands, Nic Jones, Vin Garbutt and Nerina Pallot.    

Event organiser, Ruth Wood said:  “If you didnt make it to Glastonbury last weekend, the quantity and quality of musical entertainment we have lined up for this year’s River Festival is simply phenomenal.”

She added: “There really is something for everyone whether you are three years old or 103  - and best of all it is free!”

Kristy will perform at The Bandstand at 1pm on the Sunday. The Bandstand is one of two stages that will be in operation on the Recreation Ground, alongside the River Avon, for the duration of the two days.  

Stratford based choir Amicantus will kick off the Festival at 12:15pm on the Saturday with their diverse repertoire which included everything from Mozart to Take That and even a bit of Disney!

The Saturday night headliner is Kinky Farnham, a 9 Piece Funk and Soul Band.  Earlier in the evening the talented 18 piece local Simon Kemp Orchestra will entertain the crowds

Other musical and entertainment acts booked include: 
Andrew James and Paul Johnston, Becky and the Dove, Benjamin Folke Thomas, Copperhead Road, Daisy Chain Quartet, Daniel Nestelrode, Escape Showcase, Floot Street, Folk Friendzy, Ghost of a Dog, Joe and Harry, Joe Morton, Jules Noble, , Miramar, Rhythm Studios Showcase, Rocking Dinosaurs, Rozie T Dance Academy, Sam Green and the Midnight Heist, Shuvani, Sons of the Delta, Supine Orchestra and Swan Tai Chi

Stratford River Festival takes place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July.  More than 70,000 revellers are expected to attend. 

Alongside the music there will be:  Around 100 colourful river and narrowboats moored on the river;  bars and food outlets; a craft market; a mass riverside fancy dress party on the Saturday night followed by an Illuminated Boat Parade at 10pm and then a massive fireworks display.


Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) organises Stratford River Festival. It represents over 450 shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and businesses in Stratford upon Avon town centre. 

Others involved in organising the festival include: The Avon Navigation Trust.
Festival sponsors include: Avon Boating; Stratford Marina; and Stratford Town Trust. 
Festival supporters include: the Dirty Duck, the Garrick Inn, Stratford Sea Scouts; Stratford Boat Club.  

For further media information, please contact Tor Wilkes at Stratforward BID on 01789 299011 or email
Further information is available from  



Jun 2015

A project to improve one of the key gateways into Stratford upon Avon has taken root this week with the installation of huge colourful pavement planters.


Greenhill Street – which links the railway station to the market square – forms one of the main arteries into Stratford, and is used by thousands of pedestrians and motorists each week.

12 planted boxes arranged in groups of two have been placed on the pavements on each side of the road to create a colourful colonnade for passers –by.

Karen Wild, BID Manager for Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) said:

“This relatively short and narrow road is in fact one of the most important streets in the town. Partly because of its historic importance but also because of it being one of the key gateways into modern Stratford.”

She added: “First impressions count, and for many this street offers the first real opportunity to experience what Stratford has to offer.  It is vital that it looks attractive and smart.”

The project is a joint initiative between Stratforward, Stratford In Bloom, Stratford Town Council, Stratford District Council, Warwickshire County Council and the traders of Greenhill Street.

Cynneth Bonanos, the business owner of Mail Boxes in Greenhill Street, said:  “Many people pass through daily by foot and car without bothering to look at the shops and services on offer here.

We have a fantastic and diverse offering of shops, food outlets and services  – everything from ale to antiques, paintings to print and noodles to nails -  and by making the road more attractive we hope that it will slow people down and make them look at just what is right under their noses here”.

Councillor Jenny Fradgley, said: “This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when local organisations and businesses come together to work for the benefit of the town. I hope this is just the beginning, and between us we can do a lot more to transform what’s probably the most important and historic street in Stratford forming part of the original Roman Road that went through the town.”

Pic: Greenhill St from L to R Phil Atherton Ale House, Andrew Edwards Scullery 33, Richard Vos Stratford in Bloom, Cllr Jenny Fradgley,  Karen Wild Stratforward,  Cynneth Bonanos Mail Boxes, Steve Felix Blenheim Nurseries - front

Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) represents over 450 shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and businesses in Stratford town centre.

For further press information, please contact Tor Wilkes at Stratforward BID on 01789 299011 or email


All Aboard for Stratford River Festival - Fancy that!

Jun 2015

                                                  ALL ABOARD FOR STRATFORD RIVER FESTIVAL – FANCY THAT!

Ahoy....thousands of people expected to flock to Stratford next month for the annual Stratford upon Avon River Festival are being asked to dress for the fancy dress! 

Organisers of the two day extravaganza – which takes place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July – are asking revellers attending the Saturday night festivities to dress up to add to the party atmosphere.


Ruth Wood, Event Manager said: "The River Festival is already Stratford’s biggest and best free party but we wanted to add even more colour to the event.”

"There is no particular theme, we are just suggesting people dig out whatever is at the bottom of their wardrobes and come along and party. Pirates, fairies, super – heroes, 70s funksters will all be welcome. There will be prizes for the best.”


The Festival - now in its seventh year - will once again be centred on the river and adjacent Recreation Ground. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend over the weekend.


Ruth Wood added: “The River Festival is definitely one of the highlights of the Stratford annual calendar and there is truly something for everyone over the two days whether you are three or 93 – and best of all it is free!”

Central to the Festival will as usual be the hundreds of boaters who bring their colourful river and canal boats to the event. Thanks to the Avon Navigation Trust around a hundred vessels are expected to be moored up on the river for all to see. Clive Matthews from the Trust said:

"We are very proud to be the main partner working with Stratforward on this prestigious event. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to show the huge amount of work our wonderful volunteers do with all the towns on the river.

The Trust are also organising the Illuminated Boat Parade on the Saturday night. Clive went on: "We hope this year it will be bigger and better than ever with a marvellous new trophy for the best boat taking part."


Immediately after the parade will be the traditional fireworks finale at 10.30pm.  To mark the Festival coinciding with American Independence Day , Forest Fireworks are planning a "Stars and Stripes" theme.

Back on land, masses of free music and entertainment will be on offer. There will be two stages in operation throughout the event – The Bandstand and The Acoustic Stage.   

Stratford based choir Amicantus will kick off the Festival at 12:15pm on the Saturday with their diverse repertoire which includes everything from Mozart to Take That and even a bit of Disney!

Other highlights will include: Kinky Farnham a nine-piece funk and soul band who are headlining on the Saturday night; and award winning singer songwriter Kristy Gallacher - who has recently supported Ed Sheeran – on the Sunday.  A full entertainment programme will be published shortly.


For those needing a little retail therapy there will be a craft market with stalls selling everything from traditional narrow boat ware to handmade books and the work of talented local artists.

Food and drink will also feature heavily. In addition to three bars, there will be a wide range of food offerings including:  BBQ’s; crêpe stalls; Thai, Japanese and Italian cuisine; and even vintage-style toasties served from a classic VW camper van.

The Festival runs from 10am on Saturday 4 July until 8pm on Sunday 5 July and is FREE to attend.

Further information is available from 





Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) organises Stratford River Festival. It represents over 450 shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and businesses in Stratford upon Avon town centre. 

Others involved in organising the festival include: The Avon Navigation Trust.

Festival sponsors include: Touch FM, Avon Boating, Stratford Marina, Stratford Town Trust. 

Festival supporters include: Stratford District Council, The Dirty Duck, The Garrick Inn.

Media sponsors: Touch FM





Stunts in the punt at Stratford River Festival from left to right: Jay Swinfen of Avon Boating, Ruth Wood and Tor Wilkes of Stratforward, John and Heather Dews of Stratford Marina. Fancy dress courtesy of Stratford Fancy Dress Hire.


Boat Loads of Fun at Stratford River Festival from left to right: John Dews of Stratford Marina, Jay Swinfen of Avon Boating, Tor Wilkes and Ruth Wood of Stratforward, Geoff Atkinson of Touch FM. Fancy dress courtesy of Stratford Fancy Dress Hire.


For further media information, please contact Tor Wilkes at Stratforward BID on 01789 299011 or email                 




Stratford River Festival July 4th & 5th

Jun 2015

Stratford Pubs Rule

at Stratford River Festival!

The Sun is finally shining, the days are getting longer and the 7th Stratford River Festival is less than a month away!  It takes place on Saturday 4th July & Sunday 5th July at the Recreation Ground in Stratford.  The Lazy Cow, The Keys and Kitchen and The One Elm will be providing drinks at the event which is the most popular of all of Stratford's free outdoor festivals.  The festival is supported by many organisations including the Avon Navigation Trust, Avon Boating and Stratford Marina. 

The Lazy Cow will provide the Cider and Lager tent.     Jodie O’Meara the Operation Manager of the Lazy Cow group said ‘We’re thrilled to be awarded the Cider and Lager Bar at this year’s River Festival.  We’ve seen the event grow each year and as a local Business we’re really excited to be involved.’

The Keys and Kitchen will be in charge of Pimms, Wine and Champagne.  The One Elm will be serving up traditional Real Ales.   Chillers have been ordered to ensure all drinks are served at the right temperature!  Stratforward Events Manager, Ruth Wood, has put in her own order for glorious weather!

A quintessentially English weekend of fun for the whole family awaits visitors to the Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival this year.  Festival organisers, Stratforward BID, have an action-packed programme of activities and attractions which, feature a craft market, family and charity zone, climbing wall, and live entertainment from world class bands and performers on the bandstand.

Stratford’s River Festival is less than a month to go, so plan to come to this free two day event and laze on the grass, listen to class music, and enjoy some shopping both at the festival and in town, and a little indulgence.  Its a real treat for boat lovers, Saturday evening’s illuminated boat parade is followed by a grand firework finale!

 For further information and event schedule visit