Thousands of visitors filled the streets of Stratford to enjoy a celebration of all-things automotive as the second Stratford Festival of Motoring made a triumphant return to the town this bank holiday weekend.
Footfall figures in the town centre were up 10 per cent on Monday compared to last year’s already record bank holiday figures, as people flocked in to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spectacle of more than 200 classic and specialist cars on display.
This year, organisers arranged for many of the roads in the town centre to be closed off to traffic on Sunday and Monday, allowing exhibitors more space to display their vehicles, and visitors room to enjoy the event to the full.
Crowds gathered in the sunshine to wave on the event’s highlight – a cavalcade of dozens of unique cars dating back more than 100 years, from stunning supercars to vintage classics as it drove a leisurely route from Bridge Street through to High Street.
Leading the spectacle was the Bard Car – the imaginative creation designed by young people from the Escape Community Arts project, to mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth.
As well as admiring the variety of unique and beautiful cars on show, visitors were able to experience the thrill of ‘off-roading’ for themselves, thanks to Land Rover Experience Gaydon, which bought its unique Terrapod to Rother Market.
Queues of people filled the market, to take on the state-of-the-art, mobile, man-made track, which enables drivers to experience the all-terrain ability of the Land Rover vehicle range, while budding young car enthusiasts joined in the motoring fun with the Rebel Replicas, a selection of battery-operated scale models of Land Rover Vehicles.
Also a resounding success was the new Blossom Trail run, which took drivers on a picturesque route through the Vale of Evesham and its orchards, as well as the Test Hills Run, a shorter route around some of the steepest hills south of Stratford, combined with a treasure hunt, to test participants’ concentration skills.
Event organiser, Adrian Grubb, from Stratforward, said that closing off the roads in the town centre had transformed this year’s event.
“Last year’s inaugural event was a great success, but this year’s decision to stop traffic coming through had a frankly amazing effect on the atmosphere – the sense of enjoyment and freedom to wander around freely was fantastic,” he explained.
“In fact, the numbers we have don’t do it justice – our footfall counters only record people on the pavements, but due to road closures, more people were on the streets, so I’d estimate the visitor numbers were actually much higher.”
He added: “A number of town centre business owners commented on how buzzing the town was and how people were staying longer in the centre – we even had unanimous applause from the crowd when asking if they enjoyed the traffic-free event – you can’t get better than that.”
Fellow organiser, Tony Merrygold, managing director of Shakespeare Country, said: “We are delighted with this year’s event – everyone I have spoken to has only positive things to say about it.
“It drew in people of all ages and interests, from a newly-married couple making sure they visited before setting off on honeymoon, to a family of three brothers – one who came all the way from Surrey just to be here.”