Huge parade of boats to link two counties and celebrate royal milestone
- Credit: RHS
A magnificent parade of boats will showcase Suffolk's seafaring life in a celebration of the sea as part of this year's Festival of Suffolk.
Boats - large or small - are being invited to join the occasion, which will take place between Harwich, Shotley and Felixstowe on Saturday, June 18.
The parade of dozens of boats is part of the Festival of the Sea which is being held over two weekends, jointly supported by The Countess of Euston, HM Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, and Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex.
Roy Clare, one of the coordinators, said: “In Suffolk and Essex, local authorities and others are already planning events.
"Enthusiasts at Felixstowe’s Landguard Fort are planning a weekend of pirate activities at the fort and museum, and the Felixstowe Coast Patrol will be displaying their boat on the beach.
"Harwich has a Maritime Trail, Brightlingsea is staging the historic Rowhedge Regatta, the Blackwater Sailing Club has a regatta and there will be seafront activities in Southend.”
All the events across the two weekends will be part of the Festival of Suffolk, and will also celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
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The weekends are part of a range of events that will make up the Festival of Suffolk, including a 550-mile torch relay across the county, a special Newmarket Race Day, a Business Expo, a retro 80s concert called Let's Rock, a Youth and Community Games, and a Festival Marathon.
Communities are being encouraged to hold their own events and festival organisers hope it will create a legacy for the county's communities that stretches far beyond 2022.
The first weekend of the Festival of the Sea, June 11-12, will see the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, host a programme of events, and because of its naval heritage, it has teamed up with the Royal Navy for a range of family events.
On Saturday, June 11 there will be a sailing regatta between the Royal Naval Sailing Association and pupils of the Royal Hospital School which will be held at Alton Water. Spectators are welcome.
Between 1pm and 5pm that day, the school is opening its doors for a packed programme of free events, including displays by the 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) parachutists, and the RHS field gun display team. Music will be provided by a number of groups, including the RHS Marching Band, Clacton Sea Cadets and The Motley Crew, a local sea shanty group from Brightlingsea. A selection of food stalls and refreshments will be available.
At 6.45pm a Sunset Ceremony by the RHS Corps of Drums will take place, followed by a Nautical Ball. Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance via www.royalhospitalschool.org/fos.
On Sunday, June 12 there will be a Picnic-in-the-Park event open for all to enjoy in the school grounds with a joint concert with the Royal Marines School of Music Band and the Royal Hospital School of Music Band. Tickets are free but must be pre-booked via www.royalhospitalschool.org/fos.
A Jubilee Thanksgiving Service will follow at 5pm in partnership with the Royal Marines School of Music Band and the Holbrook Choral Society, churches and parishes of the local area.
Sophy Walker, director of communications at Royal Hospital School, said: "We are delighted to host a nautical weekend of festivities for the community to celebrate the Festival of the Sea as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee."
The following weekend, June 17-19, will see people of all ages encouraged to explore the county's coastline, rivers and anchorages by taking a ramble, visiting maritime heritage attractions, taking a coastal walk, going for a swim, trying kayaking, enjoying a beach hut, sampling jellied eels, watching the passing boats or having an ice cream on their nearest beach.
The Parade of Boats will feature yachts and boats of all kinds, and a variety of vessels from the Royal Navy, Trinity House, Harwich Haven Authority, Essex Marine Police and the RNLI.
The fleet will assemble between Shotley and Harwich and, flying flags and bunting, the parade will criss-cross the Rivers Orwell and the Stour, exchanging waves and cheers with spectators on the shores of Essex and Suffolk.
The best places for the public to view the spectacle (times approximate) is Harwich Ha’pennry Pier (2.30pm), Felixstowe Landguard Fort (3pm), Shotley Marina (3.30pm) and Harwich Ha’penny Pier (4pm).
To take part in the Parade of Boats, and receive further information and a special celebratory flag, boat owners can find details on the Festival of the Suffolk website: www.festivalofsuffolk.org/all-events/festival-of-the-sea Registration to take part is by April 30 but is free of charge.
Festival of the Sea organisers hope that villages and towns along the coast of Suffolk and Essex get involved and organise events to welcome the boats as they sail past. Ramblers’ groups might like to organise walks on the coastal path and families are encouraged to plan beach picnics.