Could you sing a sea shanty? Swashbuckling festival to return next month

HMS Victory and Act of Mutiny

HMS Victory and Act of Mutiny will be part of the celebrations at the Harwich International Shanty Festival in October - Credit: Paul Turvey

Following the unprecedented popularity of the Wellerman song on social media in lockdown, the Harwich International Shanty Festival is all set to be more popular than ever before. 

Running over the weekend of October 8 - October 10, the 15th annual event will bring together sea shanty singers from across the world and offer lots of free events for families to enjoy. 

A special 'shanty train' will run between Manningtree and Harwich and the festival will see the streets come alive, with pirates, soldiers, and other colourful characters meeting visitors. 

Swinging The Lead

Swinging The Lead are a resident band on the Cutty Sark and have written a Mayflower song - which will fit in with the theme of shanty festival - Credit: Paul Turvey

Shanties will be sung by Old Gaffers, Shanty Jack, Act of Mutiny, Swinging the Lead, the Felix Stowaways, and the Harwich Shanty Crew, who will all be celebrating the town's maritime heritage. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the festival was unable to take place last year, but the festival will continue with the theme intended for 2020 - marking Harwich's links to the Mayflower's 400th anniversary. The ship was based at the port of Harwich before it made its historic voyage in 1620. 

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Ships will make up a big part of the festival with Excelsior and Victor moored up the Ha'Penny Pier and if you are really looking to embrace the maritime way of life the Excelsior will even be offering bed and breakfast. Across the weekend the Victor will be offering trips complete with on-board entertainment. 


Capstan will be singing at the sea shanty festival in Harwich - Credit: Paul Turvey

Historic reenactmen

Historic reenactments will be a big part of the Harwich International Shanty Festival - Credit: Paul Turvey

On Facebook the festival organisers said: " We believe in emphasising the important history of our town, over the festival weekend you will find many informative events celebrating this, with talks and tours including at the Redoubt, Christopher Jones House and the new Harwich Museum."

Tickets for events at the festival, including Thames Barge Sailing Cruises and historic tours are now available on the Harwich Sea Shanty Festival website - , where you will also find a full programme of events. 

Festival organisers are still on the hunt for stewards to help out over the weekend, with volunteers receiving a wristband which will get them free access to the majority of events at the festival - for more details email -

Sailors in their ship

Pirates and colourful characters will take to the streets of Harwich in Essex for the festival - Credit: Paul Turvey

Sound Tradition

Sound Tradition will be making their second visit to Harwich International Shanty Festival in 2021 - Credit: Paul Turvey

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