Events / Get involved!

Messing about on the river – Riverfest 2017

Riverfest - design3

A river runs through it
Riverfest is a new festival taking place on Saturday 27th May in Riverside Park, to celebrate the River Itchen through the arts, science, music, history, sport and a love of nature. We want to bring different communities together to learn more about the river that both divides and connects us.

Wellspring of ideas
At the recent community meeting, not only did we get a groundswell of support for the festival, but six themes for celebration: Active River, Calm River, Creative River, Family River, History River and Green River. Find out more by listening to chief organiser and river sprite Catherine Wright talking about preparations for the event.

Wordle - Riverfest 4

Some of the ideas which came out of the community event

Clearwater revival
Co-organiser Mandi Bissett has been working on the green aspects of Riverfest. We are inviting experts to join us on the day to teach us about the health of the river, its ecology and the biodiversity of the surrounding area. How can we protect the river ecosystem which is essential to the health of our city?

As well as water quality, we also need to think about the air, so we will be encouraging you to walk, cycle, bus or paddle to the festival! Did you know that there is also an electric taxi service in the city? There will also be plenty of fun on two wheels, including electric scooters, guided cycle rides around the area, cargo bikes and a bicycle-powered smoothie maker. Why not yarnbomb or bling your bike and join in the Riverfest parade?

REAPsystems boats web

Image: REAPsystems Ltd.

Still waters run deep
As the River Itchen flows from Mansbridge to Southampton Water it becomes the lifeblood of our city. In fact its tidal motion could provide a source of power in years to come, to help the city transition to 100% clean energy by 2040. If you like the idea of green energy powering our city, come along and try out some electric boat rides along the Itchen during Riverfest! We hope to have both an electric rib and a hybrid water taxi providing trips along the river. Details coming soon.

As well as having the potential to power our homes, the calming effect of the river helps us feel revitalised too. Access to the waterfront and our connection with the water is so important, which is why we fully support the ‘Love Our Waterfront‘ campaign. At Riverfest why not relax with meditation or yoga by the water, look out for wildlife, or be inspired to get creative alongside local artists and musicians. You can also make a splash with some watersports at Woodmill!

Bringing together different streams of thought
We hope that this Riverside Festival could become an annual event and a focal point of the year for our community. We are keen to include a lasting aspect of the festival which can continue to inspire community pride and cohesion when the day is over. This could be a permanent artwork such as a mosaic or bridge plaque (made using found and recycled materials) or the planting of trees or edible plants. Ideas for a legacy project will be collected at Riverfest – thinking caps on!

A bridge over troubled water
Riverfest has been made possible through a grant from The Big Lottery Fund under its ‘Celebrate’ banner.


This was facilitated by The Southampton Collective, a new social enterprise which works on collaborative projects in the city, relating to creativity, fairness and sustainability. Its work focuses on projects which promote:
•    Social justice;
•    Anti-discrimination;
•    Collective action;
•    Community empowerment, working and learning together;
•    The protection of natural resources and a low carbon economy;
•    A vibrant city, including local arts and heritage.

We hope to see you down by the water in May!

One thought on “Messing about on the river – Riverfest 2017

  1. Pingback: Riverfest 2017 – The Southampton Collective

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