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Christmas Newsletter

The latest newsletter went out overnight and should be waiting for subscribers to read. If you don’t subscribe already, you can read the newsletter on this site – just head to the Newsletter Registration page and scroll down. When you register, please don’t forget to click on the activation email (check your spam box!)

Festival Merchandise

2017 Merchandise will be available from outlets in Harwich over the Festival weekend, including the Ha’Penny Pier Visitors Centre and our roving programme sellers. Afterwards you can order from us by post, details from

T.shirts £10    Sweatshirts £10     2018 Calendars £8     CDs £10     Badges and Pens  £1

T.shirts £10    Sweatshirts £10     2018 Calendars £8     CDs £10     Badges and Pens  £1

T.shirts £10    Sweatshirts £10    2018 Calendars £8     CDs £10     Badges and Pens  £1

T.shirts £10    Sweatshirts £10     2018 Calendars £8     CDs £10     Badges and Pens  £1

T.shirts £10    Sweatshirts £10    2018 Calendars £8     CDs £10     Badges and Pens  £1

Festival Stewards

We are actively looking for stewards at the 2017 Festival. Join in with a great team of people, see the festival “from the inside” and in return for some help over the weekend, receive a Stewards Wristband offering free access to most events. Stewards Rotas are being drawn up now, so please email the festival: and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

February Newsletter

Plans for the 2017 Harwich International Shanty Festival are already well under way and a quick look at the website reveals an exciting line up, with familiar festival favourites and some exotic and interesting newcomers. Still a few artists left to confirm, so do keep checking back. The website has also now been updated to show all new information for the 2017 season, with some updates to the gallery as well, so check those out too.
There are two fund raising events coming up very soon in Harwich. Our FUNdraising events are as much about having fun as about raising money, so we hope that both events will be well attended. What better way to spend a wintry February afternoon than in the New Bell Inn, competing against other “athletes” for the Shanty Festival Pub Olympics Championship? A selection of traditional pub games with a small entry fee for each game and a points system leading to a prestigious Cup, plus other prizes. Date is next Saturday 25th starting at 3.00p.m.
And in March we have the notorious Alma Quiz Night. Not just any old quiz, the Alma is famous for its quirky quizzes and this one should be no exception. A challenge for all, it’s a reprise of our last Alma quiz and is entitled “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash Part Two”. Bring a team along or join one on the night – Tuesday 14th March starting promptly at 8.00 p.m.

Pub Olympics 25th Feb

The Harwich International Shanty Festival invite you to an afternoon of traditional pub games on Saturday 25th February 2017 in The New Bell Inn.

Are you the Harwich Pub Games Champion?

Now is your chance to find out.

Come for fun or come for the competition, either way you should have an entertaining afternoon (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

Families welcome and…. children play for free.

Ten games will be set up for you to sample, your best six scores will be used to determine the champion.

Play as many times as you wish. Each game costs a pound and all proceeds go towards the 2017 Harwich International Shanty Festival in October

Treasure Hunt

Christmas is coming and with it the eagerly awaited Harwich International Shanty Festival annual Treasure Hunt. An excellent way to while away a few hours between Christmas and New Year, drinking at the Alma and discovering the delights of Historic Harwich.

Do come and join us on Wednesday 28th December from mid-day. Quiz set by last years winners. Come and pit your wits against them to be sure they don’t win again!!

Download the 2016 programme

The 2016 Harwich Sea Shanty Festival programme is now available to download for free! If you want to remember where you saw a band, and lost your paid-for programme then grab a PDF copy now!

Click the image!

2016 Festival Programme

Buy the 2016 Festival Programme


Coming Up!

Shanty events continue in Harwich all year around.

Coming up on 28th December is our annual Treasure Hunt, see separate post for details.

In the New Year we will have a Shanty Quiz Night at the Alma and a Pub Olympics at the New Bell.

All these events will raise funds for the 12th Harwich Shanty Festival 12th to 15th October 2017.

We hope to see you at one of these events, details closer to the time. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page for the latest news.

Have you signed up to our Newsletter?


Maritime Craft Activities at The Redoubt

Each day at the Redoubt Fort during the Festival there will be a series of Maritime Craft Activities run by Swan Crafts. Come along Friday, Saturday or Sunday to take part and go home with your own design craft work.

1200  1300: Driftwood Wall Art £12.50 

1330  1430: Mixed Media Lighthouses £10.00 

1530  1630: Mini Beach Huts £15.00 

Price includes instruction and cost of materials. Work can be carried over to the following day at no extra cost. 


Spoken Word Sessions

Do you write, could you create an original piece about the sea? It could be a poem, monologue or a short story and no more than 500 words.

We’ll be running two Spoken Word sessions on the Friday and Saturday of the 2016 Harwich Shanty Festival.spoken word flier

Shep Woolley

Shep Woolley

Shep Woolley has been entertaining the crowds since performing at the local working men’s club as a young boy. Through Country & Western, Jazz, Skiffle and Rock’n’Roll he progressed to stand up comedy and a spell in the Royal Navy lent a nautical slant to his material. A professional musician of many years standing, Shep now combines an entertaining mix of comedy, monologues, sea songs and shanties for his maritime bookings. Don’t miss him!

Christmas Treasure Hunt

Hi everybody,

We have another challenge arranged for you between Christmas and New Year. It’s a good time to get together a team for a bit of post Christmas fresh air and some exercise for the little grey cells, followed by a drink or three in a nice warm Harwich pub, complete with mince pies of course! And all to raise a bit of money for the Shanty Festival as well.

The last two years have been cryptic clue “Treasure Hunts”. This year is a variation on that theme, but still suitable for all the family.

Details are on the attached fliers, but in case you are unable to see them, briefly, turn up at the Alma between 12.00 and 1.00p.m on Wednesday 30th December  to collect your clues, returning by 3.30 for the answers and prizes.

£3.00 per person or £8.00 per family.

Hope to see you there

Pamtreasure Hunt Flyer 2015

2016 Calender available in Merchandise!!

Calender Covermar

The fun doesn’t stop!

DSC00887The 2015 Festival may be over, (and what a festival it was!) but we’re already planning 2016’s festival as well as events throughout the winter & spring.


Coming up, we’re planning an Auction, Treasure Hunt and maybe a Shanty-themed Quiz. All based in Harwich, naturally. Keep an eye on our facebook page, website and your inbox for details (if you’ve subscribed to our newsletter)


Competion results

beanie & beard2Results of the 2015 Beards & Beanies Competition run by the Swan Gallery, Harwich, are now out.

Prizes donated by the Weird Beard Brewing Co and the Alma Inn, Harwich, were donated to:

  • 1st Prize – Sally Havill – Modelled by Husband Peter Havill from Gt Bentley

  • 2nd Prize – Jackie Mansfield of the ‘Handmade Gallery’ Dovercourt modelled by her husband David

  • 3rd prize – Sarah Adie, modelled by Peter Praszky.

1st Prize - Sally Havill – Modelled by Husband Peter Havill from Gt Bentley

1st Prize – Sally Havill – Modelled by Husband Peter Havill from Gt Bentley

2nd Prize

2nd Prize – Jackie Mansfield of the ‘Handmade Gallery’ Dovercourt modelled by her husband David

3rd Prize - Sarah Adie, modelled by Peter Praszky

3rd Prize – Sarah Adie, modelled by Peter Praszky

The festival is already gearing up for the 2016 competition so get knitting now!

And don’t forget, there are just a few days left to enter the Photography Competition, full details on this website – the closing date has been extended to 21st October


Peter Everson “Most enjoyable weekend and a very impressive turn of speed on Saturday evening preparing the cinema for the stage show.”


Pamela Walsh “Thank you for organising such a fantastic weekend”


Liba Stones “Thank you to everyone involved. We had a fabulous day on Saturday as we did in previous years.”


Ed Hulse “Getting still better every year! Well done.”


Peter Tierney “Great weekend ta v much”


Aitch Worboys “Great fun as ever xxx”


Charlotte Oliver “Had a brilliant time. Thanks so much.”


Øystein Gjertsen “Riggerloftets enjoyed the festival. Thank you for a good arrangement, amazing moments and a lot of fun”


Bill Collins “Grateful thanks to Harwich for inviting the Press Gang from Cornwall. It was certainly well worth the long trip. Made lots of new friends and had a lovely time. What a friendly place Harwich is (and super beer too!)”


Alan Whitbread “Brilliant festival. Thanks.”


The Felix Stowaways “Thank you for inviting us. We had an amazing time!”


David Bridle (Motley Crew) “Best yet. Thanks to you all (and the motorhome park was great, too)!”


Paul Winters (The river rogues) “thank you for inviting us to your event we all enjoyed ourselves and it was so good meeting new people ,sorry I didn’t get to say good bye to everyone I had a great time see you all next year”


Sarah Smith “Just happened to be in Harwich this weekend to meet up with by friend. Didn’t know the festival was on, but ended up having a great weekend. We’re both going to do our best to come back next year. Great music and wonderful people. Thank you. xxx”


Hans Mol “Thank you, thank you ons behave of Shantymen Kaap Hoorn. We had a wonderfull weekend. Looking forward to October 2016”


Dick Gerritsen “As a member of the Shantymen Kaap Hoorn I loved the festival. Thank you very much for the organisation.”


Richard Banner “Thank you for organising a fantastic weekend”


Mary Lake “Especially enjoyed listening to Brasy yesterday – All the way from Poland – they were brilliant ! Had followed the voices of Pete and Malc into the Crown Post and stayed on to listen to Brasy, and then enjoy the shanties of Crossjack from Germany – at the same time enjoying Crown Post’s pulled pork in a bun with a very morish glass of rose !”

Thank You!

Thank you to you all, whether an artist, supporter, local allowing us to invade your establishment, steward, host, generous contributor to our pot, passer by staring in wonder, knitter and all we thank you for making our 10th festival such fun …. We wish you all a safe journey home and a happy year, see you all 2nd weekend of October 2016

Please support our fundraising events throughout the year….


Festival camping

Overnight campingOvernight parking is now available for caravans/campers. Go to Ticket sales for details.


The Programme is out!

2014 Programme

The 2015 Festival programme is now available on this site for download, only £3, or via outlets around Harwich.


Any changes to this programme will appear on the Programme Changes page


Friends of the Festival reception

calendar_October_09_TOn Friday 9th October we have the first of our special events for Friends of the Festival, just as the 2015 Festival gets underway.

From 16.30-17.30 at the Harwich Town Sailing Club a Friends Reception will be held including light refreshments, a short talk plus entertainment from some of our festival guests. There will be opportunities for a sneak preview of the weekends entertainment and a chance to meet and chat with some of the festival committee and artists. A copy of the 2015 CD will also be given out.

Existing friends are of course welcome, but you may also sign up as a friend now or pay on the door. The modest sum of £30 per individual, £55 per couple or £75 per family gives annual membership which runs from 31st October each year. (Those joining between now and 31st October 2015 will not be invited to renew until 31.10.16). To join now please contact us by email – or click on the buttons below – and we hope to see you on 9th October

Shanty festival CD

Following the success of the Mayflower concert held at last years festival we now have the first recordings of some of the 17 newly written songs that were performed at that concert.

Go to  to hear/purchase these tracks.

A CD will be produced in time for the 2015 festival.

Watch this space!!

Thank YOU!

DSC00887A big thank you to all those who attended the 2014 festival in whatever capacity and for the many hours of work put in by a large number of volunteers and artists. We do hope you all managed to enjoy yourselves as well.

The festival goes from strength to strength and we are thrilled with the response we have had in 2014. Now our sights are set firmly upon Festival No. 10 on 9/10/11th October 2015 and we promise it will be a big one.


But in the meantime, in the words of this year’s Festival T. Shirt:

Keep drinking beer and Shanty On!!

Overheard …

“One of the best things about living in ESSEX is going to the Harwich Shanty Festival”


I have had an awesome weekend, thank you to everyone who came along and supported us you were amazing. What a lovely,if slightly bonkers, bunch we all are. Once again, thank you, have a safe year, see you same time, same place in 2015 xx love to all”


Thanks to Cap’n Fitz & First Mate Fitz (decide for yourselves which Fitz is which), the Galley Slaves Jane & Mick, and all the volunteer crew who have been heavin’ & haulin’ all weekend – once again I have found songs, stories, friends, figureheads, mentors, and my own voice. Thanks to all the talented singers, songwriters and storytellers for doing what you do. Thanks to Harwich for being there…
I’m crossing the North Sea now, raising a glass to all of you, as well as our friends who were absent this year, looking forward to HISF 2015!”


And now there’s music emanating from within – Hooray and up she rises…”


 All concerned should be congratulated on another brilliant festival. Thank you.”

2014 Festival Photos

Photos from last year’s festival are now on the website under the ‘Past Festivals’ menu or by following this link



Programme changes

Cardboard ticketThe Saturday evening concert at The Mayflower Project has been sold out.

Changes to the printed programme are available here

Fundraising Barn Dance

Many thanks to all who came to the Barn Dance and supported the Shanty Festival.

Quiz Night

keep-calm-it-s-pub-quiz-nightMany thanks to everyone who participated in the Quiz Night on Tuesday!

The quiz was entitled Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (But hopefully  didn’t let that put you off)

Busy busy busy

architetto_francesco_ro_01It may only be February but planning for the Shanty festival is an all year round affair, some artists have to be booked a year, or even longer, in advance! Keep your eyes on this website and our twitter feed for updates and news about artists who’ll be appearing.

Christmas FUNdraiser

Many thanks to everyone who turned up to our Christmas FUNdraiser on the 29th of December. It was alot of fun and we raised over £150 towards the Shanty Festival funds. Thanks must also go to Nick May, landlord of the Alma for his support.

Christmas FUNdraiser!!

Treasure Hunt at the Alma starts at 12.00p.m. Sunday 29th December 2013. Walking tour of Old Harwich. Suitable for all ages. Cryptic clues, plus picture clues for youngsters.Entry £3.00 per adult, £8.00 per family. Includes a mince pie. Completed entries ready for marking by 3.00p.m. Prizes!!Harwich docks