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City ready for weekend of boats, cars and brilliance
2:22pm Friday 13th June 2008 in Search
THOUSANDS of rowers and spectators will descend on Durham this weekend, as the regatta dubbed the Henley of the North celebrates its 175th anniversary.
About 2,500 rowers will compete in the Bradley Hall Durham Regatta, with a further 12,000 people per day expected to line the River Wear to watch as the event unfolds, over June 14 and 15.
More than 500 races will be held, climaxing just past Elvet Bridge, in the city centre.
The Durham regatta is the second oldest in the country, pre-dating the Henley event, with only the Chester regatta boasting a longer history.
A range of special events are planned to celebrate its 175th birthday, including the second Illuminate Festival, demonstrations by the fire brigade and prison dogs, live music, dance performances and martial arts displays.
James Lamb, regatta secretary, said event organisers were excited to be approaching the special anniversary.
He said: "The regatta (committee) have been working flat out to ensure the 175th regatta is successful. It terms of racing, we're expecting a record entry, especially in terms of international crews and it's always good to welcome these crews to Durham."
Mark Bell, Durham Regatta events co-ordinator, said: "Durham Regatta is already the North's premier rowing event but we have been keen to help the regatta develop into a true family occasion.
"The extra attractions during the regatta weekend and Illuminate have helped us offer more to the public and we look forward to seeing the event grow year on year."
One of the big winners in last year's event was Durham Amateur Rowing Club, who scooped several prizes.
This year, teams from as far afield as Norway, Germany and the Netherlands will be among the competitors.
Races will be held between about 8.30am and 6pm tomorrow and Sunday.
The Illuminate festival will feature a range of street performers, on the Riverbank, the Market Place, and the Riverside. The festival will be held on Saturday, June 14, from 5pm onwards.