Retail guru Mary Portas returned to her Watford roots last month to launch Watford’s Big Events programme alongside Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill.
It was Mary’s involvement in the 2011 Portas Review of Watford that put in motion a succession of improvements to the town centre as part of a massive £4.3 million investment into Watford’s public amenities.
With the Charter Place shopping centre in Watford earmarked for a total renovation programme to include not just new retail space but a cinema and leisure complex, a diverse and exciting restaurant sector plus the construction of a state of the art covered market and the biggest arts and cultural events programme in the County, Watford is well and truly back on the map.
The rejuvenation of The Parade and Watford Pond made the area an ideal location for the free family fun of the Big Events staged for the Watford community.
Big Events = Big Fun!
The Big Events programme is a year long entertainment extravaganza encompassing theatre, dance, sport, fashion, music, cinema and even an ice rink!
Designed not just to draw trade to the High Street shops but with the intention of bringing the community together on a social level, Big Events will centre around The Parade and Watford Pond. The Pond has been completely transformed and now boasts seating areas, new lighting and three new fountains, plus of course the bridge with its attractive yet practical illuminated hand rails and decking.
Having already staged the hugely successful Big Dance and Big Family Sports Day, the next major event will launch next Wednesday 30th July 2014, with the Big Screen coming to The Parade!
Films carefully selected by Watford’s Film Society and chosen for their appeal to the widest audience will be shown on a 5 metre square screen in the events area, and are all free of charge. Opening and closing films are two classics both made in Watford, Sherlock Holmes as the opener and Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire to conclude the Big Screen event on Sunday 3rd August.
Other films showing include Grease, Some Like It Hot, Mamma Mia and The Lego Movie and with the weather promising to be generous what better time to enjoy the outdoor cinematic experience!
See our Events page for the full film programme with times.
Party by the Pond
The Big Event fun continues with the Party by the Pond on Saturday 13th September. Brought to you by Watford's local community radio station Vibe 107.6 the Parade will be home to great tunes, an amazing mix of music for all tastes plus fabulous live performances.
This Party is FREE and promises to be a highlight of the Big Event programme.
The Big Catwalk
If fashion is your thing don’t miss The Big Catwalk on Saturday 27th September, where High Street fashion will mingle with local designers and wacky fancy dress!
The Big Draw
A week later release the Van Gogh in you with The Big Draw! Giant murals, animation, card creations or a true work of art, take part in the Big Draw Marathon and let your imagination run wild.
Diwali on The Parade and Big Skate
November will see Diwali on The Parade and as the festive season approaches you can take to the specially installed ice rink under the glow of fairy lights at Watford’s first Big Skate.
Big Events in 2015
2015 will bring more Big Events to Watford! New Year, Valentine’s Day and beyond with details being updated all the time on the Big Events website which you can access via thebestof Watford Events page.
Thanks to Hertfordshire County Council’s BigHertsBigIdeas project, the funding they secured has made it simpler and safer to get to The Parade to experience the Big Events. The improved subway system, better shared spaces and more cycling parking means that the whole family can confidently get to the events cheaply, safely and healthily!
Councils are often a much maligned bunch but Watford Borough Council proposed an ambitious programme of change in a difficult economic climate. That in the last three years they have achieved and delivered so much must be applauded, as the Watford community as a whole can only benefit from these improvements, which are by no means at a conclusion.
Here at thebestof Watford we are delighted to see the ongoing rejuvenation and will as always keep you up to date with future developments. In the meantime, have fun at the Big Events!