THE final preparations have been made and everything is in place for the annual Old Town Festival, which kicks off in earnest today.

The first event was a Caribbean night yesterday at Commonweal School but all the public events begin today.

For more than 70 years the Old Town Festival has provided an opportunity to showcase the talents of residents and this year is set to be no different.

Gerry Hannon, who is on the festival committee, said: “We have been at the Lawns getting everything ready so everything is in hand.

“We’re hopeful it will be a very good year.

“I have only been in Swindon for 25 years so I’m relatively new as it’s been going for 70 years.

“But each year is a big event in Old Town and this year will be no different.

“There is going to be something for everyone so we would encourage people of all ages to come down. ”

At past events there have been various themes and this year the organisers are trying to promote health and fitness among the youngsters who attend.

For the first time ever there will be a family fun run, starting at 10am from Wood Street.

Gerry is hoping that if it is a success it will become a permanent fixture at the festival.

“This year we want to try and encourage more fitness and tell people about the benefits of healthy living,” said Gerry.

“We’ve decided to start the fun run this year for everyone to get involved in. If it all goes well we will take a look at it next year and maybe do it again.

“The simple reason for the festival is it’s great for people to enjoy themselves, having a beer, but the other side is some of the health benefits.”

This year’s race will be started by famous cartoon cowboy, Woody, from the Toy Story films, who was at Lethbridge School last week to promote the festival.

The festival runs until next Saturday, during which time there will be plenty of different events for all ages.

It will culminate in a show at the Old Town Gardens where there will be music by local groups and bands to bring an end to the festivities.

A full list of events and how to buy tickets for those that require them can be found by visiting