Newsletter Sign up
Mobile Menu

Whatever Floats Your Boat!

Jul 2019

This weekend's multi-award-winning Stratford River Festival has something for everyone

Boat-lovers and landlubbers alike will be treated to a spectacular nautical sight at Stratford River Festival this weekend when more than 100 striking boats adorn the banks. 

Avon Navigation Trust, organisers of the river during the festival, are full to capacity and have a lengthy waiting list of boaters desperate to get to the popular event on July 6 and 7.

A huge selection of eye-catching narrow boats, wide boats, tugs and more will be on display throughout the weekend. Visitors have the chance to win a free boat trip when they vote for their favourite in the Best Boat Competition.

This year, scores of vintage Russell Newbery engine enthusiasts chose to hold their stunning annual rally in Stratford upon Avon for the very first time, to coincide with the festival.

Avon Navigation Trust Engineering Director Roger Clay said: “The boats bring another dimension to the festival. People are fascinated by them and love looking at them and talking to people who live or spend a good deal of their time, on boats. They want to know what life is like on the waterways. In terms of water-based festivals, the River Festival is probably the most popular and has the biggest attendance. The location is a major draw and the fact that there’s a prime tourist town within walking distance.” 

 Roger Clay of Avon Navigation Trust

Boat owner and Russell Newbery rally organiser Andrew Laycock: “As a veteran river festival visitor myself, I know how fantastic the event is and how big the crowds get. It has such a unique atmosphere, so laid back, with such a range of good food and of course good music.”

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to descend upon the town this weekend to enjoy a weekend of live music, family activities, food & drink.  The award-winning, two-day festival, now in its 11th year, boasts a staggering 92 stalls offering some of the best food and drink the town has to offer, as well as a stunning artisan craft market, and stalls promoting charities and local businesses. An eclectic mix of local musical talent will entertain the crowds at the bandstand and the acoustic tent again this year, catering for lovers of soul, ska, jazz, Motown, folk, rock and more. Saturday’s entertainment will, as always, culminate with the festival’s spectacular fireworks display. This for the first time is presented by the team responsible for the stunning display at the London Olympics!

Festive fun isn’t confined to the river banks, with activities spilling into the town at Bell Court with a Beside the Seaside themed free face painting & live music.

“The River Festival only takes place thanks to the fantastic 420 Stratford town centre businesses who fund this popular special event,”  said Stratforward Marketing & Events Manager, Tor Wilkes. The River Festival gives visitors a brilliant opportunity to soak up Stratford’s hospitality and the atmosphere of Stratford’s bustling town, its many independent shops, high street stores, restaurants, cafés and bars.

The River Festival is organised by Stratforward, a Business Improvement District organisation which unites local businesses and supports town centre initiatives to bring more people into Stratford town centre, make them stay longer, spend more and leave happy.




Jul 2019

Bell Court is celebrating summer in style this year with a jam-packed calendar of free entertainment for locals to enjoy. 

During this year’s River Festival on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July, take a photo in our giant deckchair, challenge your friends and family to a classic game of Connect 4 or Snakes and Ladders, get your face painted and enjoy music from vintage singer Betsy Harmony. 

There will also be live music from local musicians every Saturday from 3 – 5pm throughout the summer. Betsy will be back on 27th July and you can harmonise with acoustic sets from Two Tone (13th, 20th July, 10thAugust) and Sugar Sweet Duo (3rd, 24th and 25th August), or get your dancing shoes on with 10 piece jazz band Shades on Black (17th and 26th August).. 

Visitors can also enjoy a glass of bubbly or a refreshing G&T from mobile bar, Secco Cart. A converted horse cart, the pop-up bar is now open daily from 11am. 

Toby Saggers, Asset Manager at Blue Coast Capital, the owners of Bell Court, adds: “With summer now in full swing, they’ll be a fantastic atmosphere across the development as we welcome lots of people to join in with our outdoor games and live entertainment. Bell Court is the perfect place to soak up the hot weather with fantastic cafés, bars and restaurants to choose from as well, all now serving tasty summer menus.” 

Retailers at Bell Court include Seasalt, Debenhams and Lush, as well as independent businesses including Cosy Chic Pet Boutique, Victoria Lou Bridal, Farringdon & Forbes, Magic Alley, Bardia’s, The Naildressers and The Browstudio.

Further information about Bell Court can be found on the development’s Facebook (BellCourtStratford), Twitter (BellCourtLife) and Instagram (BellCourtStratford) pages. 

Betsy Harmony Full timetable for live music between 3pm and 5pm :

Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th July -Betsy Harmony

Saturday 13th July - Two Tone 

Saturday 20th July - Two Tone

Saturday 27th July - Betsy Harmony

Saturday 3rd August - Sugar Sweet Duo

Saturday 10th August - Two Tone

Saturday 17th August - Shades on Black 

Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th August - Sugar Sweet Duo

Monday 26th August - Shades on Black 

Vintage singer Betsy Harmony


The Weekend has nearly Be Gin!

May 2019

Do you love gin? 

Shakespeare Distillery & Avon Boating have launched a gin cruise on the River Avon, Stratford

The weekend has nearly begun and gin-lovers can now enjoy the taste of the locally-distilled drink whilst seeing the riverside sights of Stratford-upon-Avon! This is the first 40-minute gin cruise to launch in the county. 

Guests sample three spirits, listen to a short talk on gin and once the tasting is over, enjoy the aptly-named Stratford gin and tonic whilst taking in the sights of the river. 

Trips will be held on the first Saturday of the month from June to September and cost £20 per person. For more info click here.  

2019 Cruise Dates
1 June (SOLD OUT)
8 June (New date added)
6 July (River Festival July 2019)
3 August
1 September

Nick Birch, Managing Director of Avon Boating, who have boats seating up to 58 people for the cruises, said: 
“We wanted to offer one of our tours with a twist and knowing how popular the gin tours and gin schools at Shakespeare Distillery are, we knew partnering with them would be a great combination. We love introducing guests to the history of Stratford and the beautiful sights along the river so I’m sure combining this with award-winning gin tasting will work really well..." 

Peter Monks, Director of Shakespeare Distillery said: “Following the success of our recently-launched gin schools, we wanted to provide another new gin experience for guests to try new and exciting gins combined with Avon Boating’s incredibly popular river tours of our stunning town!
“All of our gin is locally-produced at our distillery in Stratford and all of our ingredients and products have strong connections with the area..."

Both companies have come together in collaboration through their membership of Shakespeare’s England, the Destination Management Organisation for South Warwickshire. 

Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare's England, said: 
“It’s really wonderful to see that we’ve been able to bring together these two fantastic businesses to collaborate and launch a new and unique product, which I’m sure will be very popular with visitors to the area. These are the first gin cruises in Warwickshire so it will be great to see gin-lovers enjoying both the fantastic sights of Stratford with the wonderful flavours of the gin.”

Tickets for the gin cruises are £20 per person, for more information and to book visit



May 2019

Despite the leaden grey skies, the seventh annual Stratford Festival of Motoring attracted an amazingly eclectic mix of motors this Bank Holiday weekend, and thousands of visitors flocked in from across the country.

Cooler weather didn’t chill visitor’s enthusiasm for the motoring madness that arrived in the Bard’s town for the popular two-day event with more than 300 cars on show throughout the town’s historic streets.  Car lovers from across the country joined in organised runs through the surrounding countryside, arriving town before parking up for a day of shopping and eating with like-minded people.

Car dealerships featured again this year, with Rybrook BMW & Mini, Inchcape Mercedes, and Westway Nissan bringing some spectacular cars. Westway Nissan also brought two serving members of The Red Devils!

Joe Baconnet, BID Director at Stratforward BID - which organises the festival - said: “The weather was a little fresh, not like 2018’s scorcher, but it was dry and the town was busy. We’ve had good feedback from our businesses so far and the visitors we talked to were very positive. The whole aim of the motor festival is to lay on something a bit different and showcase Stratford’s businesses to an audience from across the country. The sight of hundreds of cars, classic and up-to-the-minute, has become something people will travel a long way to see and this year was no exception.”

Over 300 vehicles from old to new were on display including a brace of 1928 ‘Blower Bentleys’ (what Bugatti once called the fastest lorries in the world!) to rare 1960s and 1970s cars and up to the minute performance vehicles including GTRs, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins. As the centrepiece and in celebration of its 60th birthday, Minis were shown on ‘Issigonis Alley’, known locally as Bridge Street! There were showpiece cars too from the British Motor Museum, Coventry Transport Museum, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and the Military Vehicle Trust at Cox’s Yard. AllMods Car Club displayed for the first time at the Festival and created a buzz on Union Street, attracting huge crowds.

Local businesses also got involved with many arranging for cars to come to the event, and entertainment company, CEX, ran a competition. Festival Patron and local celebrity, the motor commentator, Quentin Wilson, presented trophies including one for the best dressed in the style of their car’s nationality – the winner was the ‘Italians’, from Warwick!

Provisional dates for next year are Sunday, 3rd May and Bank Holiday Monday, 4th May 2020.


Free Live Music in Stratford over the Bank Holiday Weekend at the Festival of Motoring

May 2019

Free live music in town on Sunday and Monday for Stratford Festival of Motoring 2019!

The Hansel Brothers, our festival band with a huge local following, will perform from 11 am to 4 pm, at the top of Bridge Street - near WH Smith. Plenty of rock, folk, blues and traditional rock and roll!

Talented local performers will also perform at Bell Court Stratford under the balcony of Everyman Cinema Stratford upon Avon See the fantastic line up here.

The Hansel Brothers on Bridge Street


May 2019


The hugely popular Festival of Motoring returns for its seventh year on Sunday, May 5th and Bank Holiday Monday, May 6th to Stratford town centre. The event is loved by visitors and petrol heads alike as it’s a spectacular mix of classics, supercars and modern day motors. 

Owners are being encouraged to dress in the national costume of the manufacturer of their car, so watch out for lederhosen wearing Mercedes owners, or 10 gallon hat wearing Cadillac owners!

Event participants take part in tours through our surrounding countryside before parking up in the town centre where visitors will be able to feast their eyes on more than 300 vehicles. There is also the annual prize-giving, with awards going to entrants for their fancy dress.

Outstanding showpiece cars will be on show from the British Motor Museum (BMM), Coventry Transport Museum, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust plus the Military Vehicle Trust at Cox’s Yard. There will be demonstrations, food, drink and live music and family-friendly entertainment, all set against the backdrop of Stratford’s many attractions, shops, bars and restaurants. Live music will add to the relaxed bank holiday atmosphere, in both Bell Court and Bridge Street.

There are competitions galore, including CEX which has an Xbox One S up for grabs on the weekend. Visitors can enter the Festival’s photo competition on social media with great prizes including tickets for the MAD Museum and Butterfly Farm. To enter tag in Stratford Festival of Motoring and the festival organiser Stratforward. BMM are organising a guess the number of ‘Minis in a jar’ with prizes including a family ticket to the museum.

Children’s activities include a free Car Treasure Hunt at Bell Court, go karts & bouncy castle and adults are not left out either with the Spark Plug Challenge by Stratford Tyres all in Rother Market. 

Joe Baconnet, BID Director, at Stratforward, said: “We run the event to bring people to Stratford to discover what we have as a town. All our attendees enjoy coming because we’ve got great shopping, great eating and it’s a beautiful place to spend time.” He continued, “As a BID member funded organisation, we encourage all our BID members to try and take part in some way and this year, we have a record number of BID businesses bringing cars to display.”


   Military  Vehicle Trust at Coxs Yard

Stratford Businesses Encouraged To Talk Rubbish To Save Money

Apr 2019

Businesses in Stratford are being encouraged to check their waste management contracts to see if they can save money under a new commercial waste deal brokered by the local Business Improvement District (BID) team.

Stratforward BID and Coventry-based waste management provider Waste Solutions have teamed up to deliver the new scheme, which gives over 400 BID member businesses in the town exclusive prices for a new complete waste management service.

It is hoped the deal will not only save money for businesses but also help improve the local street environment by offering a twice-daily seven-day-a-week collection service.

The new initiative - the latest in a series of efforts by Stratforward to save its members money - was exclusively previewed at the official launch of BID 3 last week (3 April).

Formally announcing the new service today (April 11th), Stratforward Director Joe Baconnet said: “Everyone knows we are in unprecedented trading times. Doing business on the High Street is tough, so every penny we can save our members helps.

"Waste collection may not be glamorous or an outwardly obvious cost to a business but it is vital to every business and far more expensive than you would think.

"We went out to the market on behalf of the businesses in Stratford and Waste Solutions came back with by far the most competitive prices."

He added: "But it is not just about the money. When you live and work in a place as beautiful and famous as Stratford, with tens of thousands of visitors a year, it is vital that the town looks its best all the time. Many of our businesses struggle to get the waste management service they need and this often results in unsightly rubbish on our streets. By working more closely with a preferred service provider across the town we hope this problem will be reduced."

Businesses will be able to take advantage of services including the collection of general waste and recycling as well as several specialist services including clinical and hazardous waste or confidential paper collections and skip provision.

Charlotte Todd, Head of Commercial Waste for Waste Solutions, the commercial waste arm of Coventry City Council’s waste services team, said: “We are delighted to be the official waste partner to Stratforward BID. We want to help save businesses money whilst providing them with a safe and reliable service. We’re looking forward to working with BID members.

“We don’t view ourselves as a contractor but as a partner, so we will discuss waste needs with a business before they sign any contracts.

“We offer a range of services suitable for any size of business at competitive prices and encourage all businesses to get in touch to see how we can help.”  

Businesses can contact Waste Solutions direct on 02476 832255 or contact the BID office on 01789 292718 and they will arrange for a visit from Waste Solutions’ expert team.

Learn How the New BID Term will Benefit You!

Mar 2019

The new five-year Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) programme officially launches in Stratford in early April.

Stratford businesses convincingly voted to renew the area’s status as a BID for a third term last September. 

BID businesses are cordially invited to the launch of BID3 at the next BID networking meeting on  April 3rd. It will take place at The Shakespeare Hotel, Chapel Street from 6 pm until 7 pm.
The meeting will mark the start of the third term of the BID which runs from April 1st 2019 to 31st March 2024.
See an outline of the proposed work of BID3 and forthcoming events including; English Tourism Week, Shakespeare Celebrations, The Stratford Festival of Motoring, Stratford River Festival; Stratford Town Centre Food Festival.

Enjoy a drink, chat with other BID members, BID board members, staff, and colleagues.
RSVP to please, so we can cater appropriately.

Joseph Baconnet | BID Director

Stratforward Business Improvement District T: 01789 292718 M: 07468591946

Applications Open for Stalls at Stratford Town Centre Food Festival!

Mar 2019

Would you like a stall at Stratford's Biggest and Best Food Festival? 

Stratford Town Centre Food Festival will take place on September 21 & 22

Organised by Stratforward and Cotswold Markets, as per 2017 & 2018.


The historic town centre of Stratford upon Avon: Bridge Street, Henley Street, High Street, Meer Street & Wood Street.

What to sell? 

This year there will still be limited hot food catering with more emphasis on the food and drink products available in and around the area.

How to apply?

Click on this link for more information and the application form.


Contact Cotswold Markets on or call 01608 652 662

Festival hours?

Saturday, September 21st from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm and Sunday, September 22nd from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm.


Promote your business around Stratford!

Feb 2019

Great Value Advertising in the Popular Stratford Festival Brochures

Book now to advertise to 20,000 households within 20 miles, in the quality Stratford Festival of Motoring brochure, for as little as £125******************************

Deadline: book now to reserve your space.  Artwork deadline March 15th. 

Will also be promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website. 

You could be included in four brochures produced for our festivals and Christmas.  The more brochures you book, the greater your discount!