El Pony Pisador

We are keen to book the very popular Catalan group El Pony Pisador for next years Festival. But the Ponies are quite rightly, making a name for themselves in their native Spain and further afield, resulting in a much larger fee than our Community Festival can afford.

We know there are a lot of people who would love to see this group again and so we are inviting sponsorship from individuals, groups and business to see if we can raise enough money to book this talented and entertaining group. Please visit: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/el-pony-pisador-at-hisf  for further details and to sponsor. Many thanks to those who have already contributed!

Card Payments

In common with other online stores you may see a pop-up from your bank when making a donation or buying merchandise on our site; there is nothing to be concerned about and it is designed to combat online fraud. For further information please see your bank’s website or any recent correspondence from your bank.  This is due to start from 14th March 2022.

Amaury Villain

It is with shock and sadness that we report the death of Amaury Villain, whom many will remember as the Accordionist with Brise Glace, from Montreal, who went down a storm at our 2019 Festival. Amaury was just 45 years old and we send love and condolences to the band, his friends and family.


Brise Glace in the Angel during the 2019 Festival

Brise Glace

RIP Jim Radford

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Radford. He has been a stalwart supporter of HISF and a valued contributor to many concerts, workshops, talks and singarounds over the course of the Festival. We shall all miss him, his songs, both traditional and self penned, his stories, his wit and his personality. Sleep well Jim, we are sorry not to see you again.



We are holding our first online auction, the original artwork for our latest CD.

Local talented artist Len Smith created an original acrylic painting to be used as the artwork for the ‘In Dry Dock’ 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 and is not watermarked. Visit our auction page for full details.

Shanty Festival Auction

Alan Whitbread: Order of Service

Owing to the current pandemic, only family were able to attend Alan Whitbread’s funeral. We are however able to share the order of service which may be of interest as it contains a fascinating insight into Alan’s history. (Please note that it is a large PDF file and may take a few seconds to load.)

A celebration will now take place on 27th March 2021 at the Fleece Inn, Bretforton WR11 7JE. Keep an eye on our usual social media channels, the newsletter and this website for up to date news.

Alan Whitbread_Order of Service


Unsurprisingly we have to report that Shanty Sundays at the Pier are suspended for the foreseeable future, so no Hoolies to brighten your Easter. We have no plans to cancel our Festival at this present time, but of course we are continually monitoring the situation and will let everyone know if there is any change

Alan Whitbread

As many of you will have already seen from our brief post yesterday evening, Alan Whitbread sadly passed away on Tuesday evening. He has been a supporter and valued performer at our Festival for many years, his knowledge, musical ability and rapport with his audience made him a ready favourite. He could always engage an audience, whatever the situation and he was always remarkably cheerful and optimistic, remaining so during his illness.And so we would like to pay tribute to him, here on this page. We appreciated being his friends!

Shanty Bus!

If you are staying some way out of town or have a few mobility issues you will be pleased to hear that our ShantyBus will once again be running throughout the weekend to call at outlying areas in Dovercourt and Parkeston. The full timetable is in our programme, available to download from our website or to purchase from many venues in old Harwich

Shanty Train

The Shanty Train is running on the Saturday of the festival and two return times are available. From Harwich Town/Dovercourt travel on the 1028 or 1128 services, from Manningtree it’s the 1101 & 1201 services. Visit www.esscrp.org.uk for tickets

Shanties On The Pier

Summer shanties on the Pier has produced a fantastic response this year resulting in the following groups volunteering their services at the following times. Do go along to see them if you can. All starting around about midday. And thanks to all the groups who have volunteered to support the Festival in this way.

Sunday 18th August The Hoolies from Wivenhoe

Sunday 25th August Shantyfolk from Lavenham area

Saturday 7th September Felix Stowaways from foreign lands

Sunday 22nd September Pot of Gold from Swaffham area

Room lets over festival weekend?

We’ve had an excellent response to our appeal for potential accommodation over the Shanty Festival weekend and have started a database of people offering and people requiring accommodation. However we still need more, so if you live in Harwich or Dovercourt and would be interested in letting out some rooms on the weekend of 11-13th October please email us with your details. Likewise if you are still searching let us know. We may be able to help: info@harwichshantyfestival.co.uk

The Flyer is out!

The 2019 Flyers are just out and in the process of being distributed locally and then further afield. If you think you can help distribute any fliers in your area please let us know and we will send you a bundle. Open this post by clicking on the image then click on the image below to download a high resolution PDF version.

Shanty accommodation?

With the current lack of accommodation in the town we are desperate to find beds for some of our performers. Are there any local residents amongst you who would be able to offer rooms for deserving singers? Despite being Shanty Men we find that most are very well house trained and make excellent guests! We can offer Season Ticket wristbands to households who are able to help out in this way. Please do email info@harwichshantyfestival.co.uk for more details. 

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”

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.

Treasure Hunt

Our Annual Treasure Hunt has become a popular event in the Harwich calendar and this year takes place on Friday 29th December starting at mid-day at the Alma. Come and follow a set of cryptic clues taking you around the old town of Harwich. There are picture clues for youngsters and so this is a true family event. Prizes awarded for the winners and there is stiff competition nowadays to gain the sought after trophy!


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.

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


Jack Forbes of Slow Loris

More sad news I’m afraid. Jack Forbes, singer, songwriter (notably of the very well known “Rolling Down the River”) and band member of Slow Loris, one of our most popular festival groups, died on Friday after a short illness. The short sentence above does not do justice to the huge contribution Jack made to the Essex Folk scene and far beyond and to all the various projects he has been involved with during his life. Suffice it to say he was a character, a lovely man and will be hugely missed.

Kerry Hearn – Quidnunc

We were treated to Quidnunc, from Kent, at our 2014 festival but, sadly, in November 2014 we heard that a member of Quidnunc had died in a car accident. Kerry (right) will be remembered for their music and jest for everything. Our sympathies went to Mandy, Kerry’s wife, and to their musical partner Stuart Pendrill.

Stuart disbanded the group and has since attended Harwich Shanty Festival solo or as a member of several Dutch groups.


We are more than pleased to welcoming the Excelsior to Ha’Penny Pier for this year’s Shanty Festival.

Excelsior will be open to the public to come aboard and for anyone still seeking accommodation over the festival weekend B&B is also available. Contact www.theexcelsiortrust.co.uk for more information


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 !”

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.”