The Harwich International Shanty Festival has journeyed a long way since its small beginnings with a bunch of friends meeting up in a couple of pubs to drink good beer and sing good shanties, but we like to think that the initial idea of a cosy pub atmosphere, good friends and rousing shanties is still at the heart of all we do. Nowadays the whole town of Old Harwich resounds to the sound of Shanties and Sea songs and in addition there are concerts, barge trips, street theatre, maritime crafts and much more to look forward to.
Enjoy the Shanty Train, running backwards and forwards between Harwich Town and Manningtree Station; visit the wonderfully restored Redoubt Fort with displays and demonstrations of maritime crafts, plus pirates and Napoleonic Re-enactment; attend one of the many workshops on offer; take an informative guided walk through the old town or just snuggle up with a beer and a song at one of the many hospitable venues throughout the town. This year, being the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, brings rumours of a visit from the Duke of Wellington and events up at the Redoubt Fort promise to commemorate that battle as well. There is almost always a skirmish between pirates and the militia and pirates and other strolling players can be seen around the town and along the Quayside.
One of the 90 minute trips on board the Thames Sailing Barge “Victor”, featuring entertainment from our festival artists, is always a highlight of the weekend. And come to hear shanties from all over the world at our International evening concert.Workshops this year include Playing the Bones, Morse Code, Flags and Signalling, Singing in Public, Maritime Music, Storytelling and Family Shanty Singing. This year we are introducing our “Harwich Passport”, encouraging attendance at various Harwich landmarks with different activities available at each one. Many of the events are free to attend, though a full programme and tickets for priced events can be bought via this website nearer the time.
The Harwich International Shanty Festival was set up in 2006 to organise and co-ordinate an annual sea shanty festival over a weekend in October. Through concerts, ‘singarounds’, pub sessions, talks and workshops, the history and heritage of Harwich as part of the British seafaring nation is celebrated, promoted and perpetuated by local people and groups. This is unique for the county of Essex and is attracting audiences countrywide and beyond.