Eritrean Cultural Festival UK 2008: Lee Valley Park Festival Venue and Facilities

The festival organisers have tried their best to ensure that the public will have an enjoyable experience. In this regard selecting The Lee Valley Park for the venue provides an ample opportunity to fulfil this goal. The Lee Valley Park Authority website has this to say about the site:

The Lee Valley Regional Park stretches an incredible 26 miles along the leafy banks of the River Lee, from Ware in Hertfordshire, through Essex, to the Thames at East India Dock Basin . Regional sports centres, urban green spaces, heritage sites, country parks and nature reserves provide a unique leisure experience for everyone. Whether it's athletics, golf, horse riding, ice skating, fishing, cycling, bird watching, camping or simply exploring the countryside, the Lee Valley Regional Park is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

In addition to its beauty, the venue is served by the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, which is the largest indoor and outdoor athletics centre serving London and the South of England. It was officially opened last year and is already producing great athletes. The indoor centre comprises the only indoor 200 metre track in the region, 60 metre and 130 metre sprint straights, permanent seating for 500 spectators and full indoor jumps and throws facilities.

The Athletic centre is about five minutes walk from the main Festival venue. The Eritrean Festival organisers have hired this highly regarded centre at a great cost to make it available for the many Eritrean children who will take part in the sports competition.

One of the largest Odeon Cinemas also sits right next to the festival Venue. The organisers have taken advantage of this and hired the largest screen for the sole use of the Festival. The children present will be entertained with great films on Sunday evening while their parents attend relevant meetings.

For those wishing to stay near the festival, there is a caravan and camping site just behind the festival venue. The site has a play area and is equipped with toilets and washing facilities. You would be required to bring your own caravan or tent. The price is £6.80 per adult and £3.00 per child per night. There is a discount for group booking. Some Eritrean families have already booked a space. The place has a feel of a holiday and there is little doubt that the children will love it.

The complex around the venue comprises a bar and restaurant, Deep pan pizza and other additional facilities. The National Union of Eritrean Women have been preparing for a long time to ensure that no participant would visit these restaurants. Various traditional and non-traditional foods will be prepared to satisfy every appetite and dietary need. Tidbits like Crisps and chocolates will be available at a reasonable cost. In addition to the various types of drinks, traditional drinks like Swa will also be served to hopefully help quench thirst after guwayla. In order to recover some of the huge cost of holding the festival, participants would not be allowed to bring their own food and drink into the site.

One large Marquee will be erected to act as the main centre of the festival. Most activities including the live music entertainment and the public meeting will be held in this large marquee. There will also be other traditional marquee which will be used for meetings and exhibition. A separate marquee will be used for a restaurant and an area for people to relax and unwind after a dance. Smaller tents will be provided for the various organisations and stall owners. 20 Portloo toilets and toilet for the disabled are available. Large generators will provide power to the sound system and lighting around the site.

The security and safety of participants is paramount in preparing the festival. The organisers have had to liaise with the Police, Fire and other authorities to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Proper risk assessments have been carried out and emergency procedures are put in place. The site will be fully fenced off with a provision of professional 24 hours security service. First-aiders will be available at all times. A Health and Safety Co-ordinator is assigned with a responsibility of making sure that the festival meets all health and safety requirements.

The entrance fee is £20 for adults (£25 on the door) and £5 for children for the entire event. This is very reasonable considering the hefty cost of the festival.

Come and enjoy the memorable Eritrean Festival UK 2008.

Success to the Eritrean festival UK 2008!

Simon Marcos



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