Category: Latest

Kimbers Men Workshop & Concert

Come along to Harwich Town Sailing Club on Saturday 2nd March 2019 for a Shanty Workshop and evening concert with Kimbers Men. Click the image for full ticketing information.


Festival Feedback

We have received the following remarks concerning the 2018 festival – many thanks to all who commented!

“The Pirate Train was great fun”

“keep up the good work”

“easy going friendly atmosphere”

“we love the whole atmosphere of the Festival”

“the quality of acts at the Saturday evening concert is always excellent”

Treasure Hunt 28th Dec!

Our popular Annual Treasure Hunt is coming up on Friday 28th December starting as usual at mid-day in the Alma. It’s a great way to fill the sometimes dead period between Christmas and New Year and there is stiff competition nowadays to win that cup! Entry is £3 for individuals and £8 for a family. Collect your clues from the Alma between midday and 1330, the cut-off for your answers is 1530.

2019 Calendar now available!

The 2019 Calendar is now available on our Merchandise Page!

Festival Merchandise


Visit our Festival Merchandise Page for T-Shirts, Badges and anything else we have in stock!

That’s a wrap!

Online Ticket Sales

Now Closed!

Tickets are now only available from the Information Centre on the Ha’penny Pier                or on the door of the venue


Pirate Workshop

And here’s another workshop for you. “Being a Pirate” involves making a fabulous pirate hat which can be worn with pride over the Festival weekend (and beyond) and there will be a chance to sing along on the Ha’Penny Pier on the Sunday of the Festival – visit our ticket site to book your place and AAAAARGH’LL see you there!!

Shanty Trains

Shanty Trains are again running during the festival. Catch the 11am or midday departures from Manningtree (1028 & 1128 from Harwich Town). Tickets available from the ESSCRP website

The 2018 T-Shirt Design

The picture for this year’s T-Shirt was designed for us by local artist, singer and HISF Committee member Len Smith. The boat shown is a Harwich Bawley, which is boiling her catch of shrimps before returning to port. The term “bawley” may well be derived from the word “boiler”.

HH27, the “Boy Len”, was the last fishing vessel to work under sail out of Harwich, in the late 1940s. The boat was owned and sailed by brothers John and Ern Smith, who sold their catch from the building which is now The Samuel Pepys Wine Bar & Restaurant in Church Street, Harwich.

John and Ern named their boat after their nephew, Len “Archie” Smith, who was later to be Chief Coxwain of the Trinity House pilot launches… and the father of local artist, singer and HISF Committee member Len Smith!

2018 Flier

Please contact us if you can distribute the fliers.

Dominic Dowsey-Magog

We are deeply saddened to tell you that the lovely Dominic Dowsey-Magog died on Monday this week. A kind, gentle man and wonderful shanty singer he will be much missed by all who knew him.

Alma Quiz

Although listed as taking place on 21st April, this quiz will now take place on 8th May. Entry is £2.00 per person, with teams of up to 6. But don’t worry if you do not have a team. Just turn up and someone will find you one. Alma quizzes are always entertaining, wacky and original so don’t miss this one. They start at 8.00 p.m. prompt so get there 7.30 for a seat.

Treasure Hunt Winners

The Christmas Treasure Hunt has become a popular activity firmly established in the Harwich calendar of events and was extremely well attended this year. Due to poor weather, the Hunt was run over two days so that people who were not keen to venture out on the first, freezing, day had another chance. Despite this many people did brave the elements and we had a good turnout on both days. The clues were slightly tougher this year as too many people were previously tying for first place and with the stakes raised the results were more evenly spread.

We are very pleased to announce that the overall winners of the adult Treasure Hunt were Nick & Victoria May’s team and the overall winners of the Children’s Treasure Hunt were Lily & Evie May’s team, so well done to the talented May family!

Our 2018 Festival!

A date for your diaries – the 2018 Festival will be held over the weekend of 5th-7th October, a week earlier than usual.

What a festival!

Well the 2017 Festival is over – and what a Festival it was!

Far and away the best ever with a superb line up, appreciative audiences, great venues and the sun chose to shine on us all weekend. Our thanks to all committee, supporters, venues, artists, sponsors and everyone else who contributed to this year’s success.

So, whilst the committee gets on with the job of tying up all the loose ends left after each Festival, we are also already planning for next year’s Festival and other events.

Thanks Asda shoppers!

We are thrilled to announce that the Shanty Festival won the latest round of the Asda Green Token scheme and have been presented with a cheque for £500. Deirdre from Asda presented the cheque to Pam Fitzgerald and Diane Bitmead from Harwich Shanty Festival.

Thanks to all local shoppers who voted for us and to Diane who organised our participation in the scheme.

Supermarket Fundraising

The Green Token scheme with Asda in Dovercourt started in July and runs until September. So please, all you Asda shoppers, pop a green token into the Shanty Festival slot and lets see if we can boost our funds!

The Green Token scheme in the local Co-Op has just finished and the Shanty Festival will be receiving £300 donation voted for by local shoppers. Thanks to everyone who popped a green token in our slot and thanks especially to Diane Bitmead, without whose hard work we would not be benefiting in this way.


Shanty Newsletter!

Are you signed up to our Shanty Newsletter yet? Get Harwich International Shanty Festival news direct into your inbox. Click here for the current & previous newsletters

Sign up to our Festival Newsletter for news of shanty events throughout the year as well as advance notice of the festival itself.


Once you complete the simple sign-up form you will be sent an activation email. You will not receive any newsletters until you click on the link in the activation email. Please check spam/junk folders for the activation email if you don’t see it in your Inbox.

Spoken Word Sessions

Time to get busy all you budding writers. John Kempster will be running another Spoken Word Session at this year’s Festival. Pieces do not have to be original, but new work is very much welcomed. See flier for details or email


Committee members got together for a Badge making workshop on 20th May and turned out over 350 badges and keyrings.

Keyrings double up as bottle openers – an indispensable item for Shanty Festival attendees.

Badges retail at £1.00 each and Keyrings at £2.00.

New Bell Beer Festival

The New Bell Pub in Harwich are hosting their first outdoor Beer Festival on Sunday 16th July, and are supporting the Shanty festival

Barn Dance

Coming up on 29th July is our FUNdraising Barn Dance!

This will be great fun for all the family dancing to the Skulking Loafers.  The Barn Dance is at the Park Pavilion, Dovercourt from 7.30 p.m. on the 29th of July. Tickets £10 per adult (purchase via Harwich Box Office at Dovercourt Library or on the door that night), children are free.

Bar on site but please bring snacks/nibbles if required.

Click on the image for full size



Fancy a Shanty T-Shirt?


We still have some older T-Shirts available, now £4.00 plus £1.50 p&p. The following were in stock at the time of finger on keyboard:

 Black      4 x Small

 Red        6 x Small

Please contact us for further information.

(The maths box – if shown – is just to reduce spam! If you don’t like the one there, hit the ‘recycle’ button for a fresh one)

Ale Trail Events

In Harwich, where there’s Ale, Cider and Music you can be assured that Shanties are not far away!

Over the next few days, Harwich will be awash with the best Ales and Ciders for the annual Ale Trail. Music of a shanty nature will be found as follows:

Saturday (29th April) 4pm onwards – Rattlin’ Winches in the New Bell Inn

Sunday (30th April) 2pm onwards – Skulking Loafers on Ha’Penny Pier

Monday (1st May) from 4pm The Human Jukebox in the New Bell Inn

Pub Olympics – Round2

Following on from our first Pub Olympics in February, we’re repeating the event on Wednesday 12th April at 7pm, again at The New Bell Inn.

The Harwich International Shanty Festival invite you to an evening of traditional pub games on Wednesday 12th April 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 evening (7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.)

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

Joe Stead

I’m sure many of you will already know this, but we just wanted to share that Joe Stead passed away on March 29th after a long battle with cancer. He has been to our festival several times in the past, singing with Kimbers Men and he will be sadly missed by all in the Folk world who knew him. RIP Joe x

Pub Olympics

Thanks to everyone who came along to our Pub Olympics on Saturday 25th February, either to compete or to help out. We raised £57.00 for the Shanty Festival. Not a huge amount, but more importantly a huge amount of fun was had by all – and just look at the concentration!

Some serious competing! We are going to include the event on the Shanty fundraising calendar, possibly monthly during the winter season, after some streamlining and re-organising. Meanwhile congratulations to Sarah Adie for 1st prize and cup and to Annie Donaldson as runner up.

2016 Shanty CD available

There are still a few 2016 compilation CDs left in stock. Price now reduced to £5.00 plus £2.00 p&p.  If you live locally (no postage) please enquire at the Alma, Hanover or New Bell. Otherwise please email for postal address

Competitions for 2016


There were three competitions in 2016!