WITH the most eagerly anticipated date in the Marlow sporting and social calendar now only two months away, Marlow Town Regatta organisers say this year’s festival is set to be the best ever.

Two days of rowing, picnicking and entertainment will begin on Saturday, June 14, with the Regatta committee confident another capacity crowd of 4500 will pack out Higginson Park.

And with a stellar musical and entertainment line-up for the Sunday, it is hoped that even bigger crowds will flock to the riverside for the second day’s festivities, which includes the hugely popular dragon boat races.

Sir Steve Redgrave is confirmed as the star guest to officially open proceedings, with the Olympic hero attending with his family at the 14th annual Marlow Town Regatta since its launch in 2001.

And enclosure badges, as well as picnic plots, can now be reserved with the launch of the online booking system this week.

Town Regatta committee vice president Lance Slater said: "It’s only two months away now and plans are charging ahead and we are well underway.

"It’s hard to believe it’s the 14th year of the new regatta and it’s amazing how quickly time has passed and it’s incredible how the event has gone on getting better and better.

"Sir Steve is delighted to be able to attend with his wife and family and open the event, and we are delighted he is supporting us so well.

"Last year was considered to be the best year ever and we had 4500 people attending on Saturday and 2500 on Sunday.

"With extra acts and more entertainment on offer on the Sunday this year we are aiming to build the numbers up even more."

The committee are in talks with the Canadian Pipe Band, which is on tour in the UK this summer and will feature at Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guard during their visit.

And the London Massed Bugle Band will be on hand to provide the calibre of brass accompaniment that has seen them perform at London’s Lord Mayor’s Show and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

While there is a fee to enter the enclosure for Saturday’s rowing race day, the park will be open free of charge on Sunday for families to enjoy the entertainment on offer.

As well as the regular fun fair and a wealth of food and drink, there will be performances throughout the day, including Morris dancers and street dance troupes.

Marlow Town Regatta has become a fixture of town life after it was launched in 2001 to compliment the Marlow Regatta, which moved to Dorney Lake.

The occasion set out to replicate the garden party atmosphere of the earlier regattas, and grew into the two-day festival on show each summer.

The Town Regatta Committee will take to the High Street over the coming days and weeks to promote the popular social occasion, with a series of awareness days.

And although Higginson Park was badly hit during February's floods, Mr Slater said he is confident that the ground will have recovered enough to be in top shape when Marlovians descend on the riverside in two months' time.

Saturday enclosure entry costs £8 for adults, £7 for 14 to 17 year-olds and £4 for children, with under-fives going free.

T o book your place, go to www.marlowtownregatta.org or visit the Marlow Information Centre on Institute Road.