We are holding our first online auction.

For our latest CD, In Dry Dock, local talented artist Len Smith, created an original acrylic painting to be used as the artwork for the CD. He has now donated this painting to the Festival for auction.

The painting is approximately 2ft (60cm) square & is painted in acrylic. It is not framed. Visit our auction page for full details.

Shanty Festival Auction

“In Dry Dock” CD

Our lockdown shanty CD, In Dry Dock, was available and it featured 22 artists who have either played Harwich Sea Shanty Festival in recent years or who were due to play this year. Sorry, but they’ve all gone!

Well the year 2020 will certainly go down in history, but not as a commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, as many in the UK and USA had hoped! The plans of the whole world have been put on hold, including ours here at Harwich International Shanty Festival. When Coronavirus first hit and the world was reeling in disbelief, we still hoped, with a Festival towards the end of the year, that we might be able to go ahead. It soon became apparent this was not an option and we regretfully took the decision to postpone our planned special Mayflower Festival until 2021.

But what now? An online event was considered but rejected for various reasons, though we wanted to mark this rather strange year in some way. And so, just as the Festival is effectively In Dry Dock for the year, the idea of a CD “In Dry Dock” was born. We are hugely grateful to all those artists who have so generously donated a track to this project and to Chantey Cabin for their work in producing the CD. The result is a mix of songs both from those due to perform this year – now deferred until 2021- and many past performers, including some of our most popular acts from the last fifteen years. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supports the Festival for their loyalty over the years and we hope that you will enjoy this unique souvenir. And finally, we look ahead to brighter times when we can all meet up again in person. Here’s to October 2021!!

  1. Shake Her Johnny Chris Roche
  2. Sam’s Gone Away El Pony Pisador
  3. Herzogin Cecile Ken Stephens
  4. Davy Nik Nik Hans Weehuizen
  5. Johnson Girls The Johnson Girls
  6. Wild Goose The London Sea Shanty Collective
  7. Ranzo Ray Nordet
  8. Limehouse Reach Alan Whitbread
  9. Flash Frigate Dominic Magog
  10. The Corncrake The Rogues Shanty Buoys
  11. Reuben James Act of Mutiny
  12. Little Pot Stove Mains’l Haul
  13. Fire Maringo Hoy Boy
  14. The Captain’s Daughter The Longest Johns
  15. John Cherokee Tyburn Road
  16. Noah Could Not Navigate Men Overboard
  17. The Worst Old Ship The Hoolies
  18. Wellerman Norfolk Broads
  19. Brave Wolf Sound Tradition
  20. Rolling To Cairo Town Naze Shanty Crew
  21. Crossing the Bar Swinging the Lead
  22. Shores of Normandy Jim Radford

We would especially like to thank every artist, or their representative, for the kind offer of their tracks.





2020 Statement

Dear Artists, Performers, Friends, Supporters, Pirates, Craftspeople, Workshop Leaders,

We know that many of you have been waiting for an announcement on plans for the 2020 Harwich International Shanty Festival. We also know that many of you are desperately keen to hear that we will be going ahead as usual. Not only those performers who earn their living from events such as ours, but also many who are looking for light at the end of what can seem like a long dark tunnel.

We have delayed our decision for as long as we felt able, in the hope that the worldwide Coronavirus situation might change sufficiently for us and many others to make concrete plans for the Autumn onwards. But we have reached the stage where we need to make a decision. The available time left is not now sufficient to allow us to confidently plan and deliver a Festival of our usual standard. The uncertainty still surrounding whether and how hospitality venues can operate, the possibility of a “Second Spike”, the increased danger of this virus to the portion of the population who form a large part of our audience; all these things make it impossible to be certain of running a Festival this year. In addition there is the vexed question of cash. We will be unable to secure grants and sponsorship for an event which might not be able to run and we cannot be sure of a sufficient audience to cover ticketed events.

And so, sadly we have come to the following conclusion:

The 2020 Harwich International Shanty Festival, together with its planned emphasis on the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, will be deferred until 2021, in common with virtually all other Mayflower celebrations both in the UK and overseas. We would therefore like to invite all artists who were confirmed for 2020 to come instead in 2021 on the same terms and conditions. We can only apologise profusely that we find ourselves unable to run this year and hope that you will all understand that it really is out of our control. The dates for 2021 are 8-10th October and we really hope you can all make it. We would be very grateful if those interested in this re-run next year could let us know as soon as possible so that we know if there are gaps we may need to fill.

We had hoped that we might hold a scaled back event this year, perhaps featuring local groups only in a “Back to Roots” Festival, but have now regretfully decided that this will not be possible. It is a huge blow to us all at the end of a devastating year for the music industry in general, but in the light of the current uncertain situation worldwide we cannot risk promoting an event of any size. Our monthly newsletters will continue, as will posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course here on our website, keeping you all up to date on any Shanty news and looking forward hopefully to happier times in 2021.

Keep safe everyone and we hope we may see you all before too long

HISF committee