The City of Ely has been twinned with Denmark’s oldest town – Ribe in Jutland – since 1956. It was the striking similarities between the two places, with at the same time their different nationalities and languages and distinct perspectives on the world, that were the starting point for what has proved to be a long-lasting link, with many firm friendships formed as a result.

Ely and Ribe both have a wealth of historic buildings, an iconic cathedral at their heart, and share a similar agricultural backdrop and a flat, open-skyed, and watery landscape.

The link is maintained and helped to flourish by the Ely-Ribe Association, a group of residents from Ely and the surrounding area. Social gatherings during the year bring this group and others who are interested together, while a wide variety of visits and exchanges across the North Sea have served to further strengthen the connection over the years and continue to do so. Visits usually take place over a long weekend and have coincided with significant local events and landmark dates, such as the ‘Dancing in the Streets’, where members of the Littleport Riot Morris Dancers joined in marking Ribe’s 1300th Birthday, and the 50th anniversary of the twinning here in 2006. This was marked by the commissioning of a remarkable tapestry celebrating both places, now on permanent display for all to visit in the Maltings. In May 2023, members and friends welcomed 20 members of our partner twinning association for a weekend of guided tours around the city and cathedral, opportunities to visit its High Street and its market and a host of other local attractions, including Wicken Fen. A smaller group visit, involving a number of Visit Ely Tour Guides, took place in November 2023, allowing our City Guides to exchange ideas with and take away examples of good practice from Tour Guides in Ribe, as they had done when they were in Ely in October 2022.

The Association is led by a small Committee of councillors and members, that also reports to the City of Ely Council. The Council provides grant funding towards official events hosted in Ely, and members pay a small annual subscription, currently £12. Group subscriptions are also available. If you would like to find out more about our Association or would like us to put your group or organisation in touch with those of similar interests in Ribe, email us at: The website, with the Ely-Ribe tapestry as its main focus, is currently being updated and does contain much useful information too about the background to our town twinning here in Ely Ely-Ribe | Welcome (

Anne Heffernan

Chair, Ely-Ribe Association