The Hythe Venetian Fete is a carnival of decorated floats on rafts, each with a theme, held every second year in August on the Royal Military Canal in Hythe. The Fete attracts around twelve thousand spectators who line the canal banks on specially constructed grandstands to see two processions, each of around 40 floats. The first of these takes place in the early evening, with the second staged after dark, when the floats are beautifully illuminated. The displays on the floats are prepared by local voluntary groups and commercial organisations, with judging taking place in a number of categories. There is also a civic waterborne procession by Mayors and other dignitaries of Cinque Ports and associated towns and “limbs”. A firework display takes place at dusk, between the daylight and evening parades.
The event dates back to 1890 when the first parade took place. Organiser Edward Palmer, a local newspaper reporter, coined the name ‘Venetian Fete’ when he reported on the event and the name has been used ever since. It was held sporadically up until the outbreak of the First World War, sometimes as part of “Hythe Cricket Week”, and was not held again until 1927 after problems with heavy weed in the canal had been addressed. A further revival took place in 1934, when the organisation of the Fete was taken over by volunteers, operating as the newly formed Hythe Venetian Fete Society, and the event then took on the day and night format that still exists today. After a further suspension during World War II it was held regularly from 1946, eventually settling to a biennial pattern. Hythe Venetian Fete Society Limited is now a Company limited by Guarantee and run by a volunteer committee which helps to raise funds and perform other management functions.
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust has been a regular supporter of Hythe Venetian Fete, including providing the funding for the spectacular firework display.