Harwich International Shanty Festival
13-15th October 2023
This year marks the 18th anniversary of Harwich International Shanty Festival. It 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, real ale, good friends and rousing shanties is still where our core values lie.
In those eighteen years the Festival has grown to become the Premier UK Shanty Festival and over the Festival weekend the historic seaport town of Historic Harwich resounds with lusty singing of Shanties and Sea songs, together with pub sessions, concerts, barge trips, street theatre, maritime crafts, pirates, a Shanty train and much more.
A full programme and tickets for priced events will be available via this website from late July.
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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.
Why the community needs us
The festival celebrates Harwich’s unique, important and sometimes overlooked great maritime past. Shanty singers from all over the world come to Harwich on the second weekend in October and the whole town is filled with music and colour. The people from Harwich have taken the festival to their hearts and large numbers come every year to enjoy the atmosphere. Local businesses also benefit from a large influx of tourists from farther afield, especially at an otherwise quiet time of year
Our impact on the community
Through the years over which the festival has been running a huge amount of interest has been generated locally in singing and in shanties in particular and their relevance to the residents of Harwich. Workshops have been run which have resulted in a special Song for Harwich being created and Harwich now has its own Shanty Group, following workshops at a previous festival. In 2013 local Primary Schools worked together to create new Shanties, which were sung over the festival weekend. A book with a CD of these new songs was also produced. In 2014 we commissioned visiting artists to write new songs concerning Harwich links with the Mayflower’s trip to the New World, captained by a Harwich Man, Christopher Jones. Seventeen new songs were performed and a CD of these songs has been produced. We have run several workshops with local schools, teaching them shanties and how to play the Bones, both activities always popular.