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January Newsletter

Firstly a Happy New Year to everyone and here’s hoping for some brighter news in 2023. Here at Harwich International Shanty Festival we have plenty of news of plans for the coming year resulting in this somewhat busy first newsletter of the year.


Murder Mystery Event

We start with a report on the Murder Mystery fundraising event which took place on 30th December from the Alma Inn. This was a slight variation to the Treasure Hunt which we have staged for several years and proved a popular new idea. Teams of sleuths made their way around the town searching for clues in a challenge which was a cross between Cluedo and a Geocache Hunt . The winning team, the Taylors, completed the challenge in an astounding 43 minutes, under half the time it took everyone else and were rewarded with the prize of a Hamper. Runners up, the Offords were awarded a bottle of rum and there were plenty of Spot Prizes also claimed. All in all the day was a great success, raised well over £100 for the Festival, was enjoyed by all and we are already planning a follow up.


Marathon Shanty

Next, news of our first event for 2023. On 28/29th April we will be holding our second Shanty Marathon starting at 12.00 on Friday 28th in the Alma Inn and finishing at 14.00 on Saturday 29th. Like the Murder Mystery event the Shanty Marathon is both a fundraiser and just a bit of fun. No-one is expected to stay up for the entire time, unless of course they want to! Songs are sung in shifts. We expect that participants will dip in and out. But to add to the challenge there will be awards for those who sing more than 10 songs, forfeits for certain themes, spot prizes, raffles and merchandise for sale. The last time we ran this event there were a total of 412 songs sung over the 26 hour period. Can we beat this in 2023? Some accommodation is still available at the Alma Visit: https://www.almaharwich.co.uk/ to book a room. Spread the word and we hope to see you there.


Artists Bookings

We have already booked some of the Artists for our 2023 Festival and over the next two months will be wading through the many applications we have still not attended to. Please be patient if you have not heard from us. There is a mountain of work to be done in addition to the booking of Artists. We will try to give a definite answer by the end of February.


58 Ships

Some of you may have attended the launch of our 58 Ships project at our 2022 Festival. But for those who do not know about this, HISF has commenced what we hope will be a long running project to explore the history of ships built in Harwich over the centuries, their stories and the stories of those who sailed in them. There are 58 Ships listed on the boards outside the former Navyard wharf, hence the title of the project, but they are not the entire story of Harwich towns shipbuilding past. We hope to share the factual history of these ships, combined with musical and artistic endeavours which may arise from the study. We have already compiled histories of a few of the ships, some of which were talked about at the launch, but there are many more to be studied. A song and a poem have already been written and a musical show is in the pipeline for the 2023 Festival. We are keen to encourage participation from anyone interested in discovering more of this rich history and a meeting will be held at Harwich Museum on Saturday 11th February from 2-4.00 p.m. to discuss what has been found so far and to plan the way ahead. Anyone with an interest is welcome to attend. The project is not solely for those who might want to produce songs, shows, artwork and poetry. 


Malcolm Ward

Roger Resch, whom some of you will know as one half of the duo, Impressed, has written a lovely tribute to his friend and colleague Malcolm Ward and this will be published in full in Folk London magazine very soon. However we have permission to print a shorter version ourselves. Please do go to https://harwichshantyfestival.co.uk/category/in-memorium/  if you would like to see this. 


EAFN Awards

We have just heard that we came 2nd in the Best Festival in Essex EAFN Awards this year. Thanks to everyone who voted for us again. Still an excellent result and one we can be proud of!



Once again we are appealing to any Harwich residents who can help us out with accommodation for Festival Artists. We have a small bank of accommodation providers now, but do still need more. If you have contacted us previously, but we have not used you so far please do email again. Some years we need more help than others and we are finding that people on our list have moved away or not responded so we need to update. Anyone providing accommodation will receive tickets to a Festival concert. Please email info@harwichshantyfestival.co.uk if you have any spare rooms. You do not have to supply meals, although a simple breakfast might be welcome, but is not essential.


2023 Calendars

We have a few 2023 Calendars still in stock which we are selling off for £2.50 +£2.00 p&p. If you are in need of a calendar for the coming year take advantage of this offer straight away! Don’t forget of course that other merchandise including Breton Tops, Zip Up Hoodies, Mugs and CDs are still available, many now reduced in price. Visit https://harwichshantyfestival.co.uk/merchandise/ and follow the links.


Don't forget to put these dates in your diary, or on your shanty calendar: 13-15 October 2023




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