Johnson Girls

Johnson Girls were all set to come to our 2020 Festival, representing the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts as part of our Mayflower celebrations. Travel uncertainties and increased costs make their Atlantic crossing impossible this year, but we are very much hoping that this world renowned Shanty group can join us via the wonders of Live Streaming.


Isle ‘ave a Shanty

A six piece acapella male harmony group from the landlocked Isle of Ely; hence the name! This busy group have not been slacking during lockdown and their performances have won them the prestigious North Northamptonshire Online Music Festival Trophy 2021. Catch them on the Sunday of the Festival.


ShantyFolk are a landlocked, acapella shanty group from the Lavenham area; they have been singing together since 2014 when, as members of a local choir, they sought to do ‘something different’ for a charity concert.  Since then they have helped raise a significant amount for various good causes including the RNLI. 2021 will mark their debut at HISF.


Shotley Crue

Another crew formed directly as a result of the Harwich Shanty Festival, Shötley Crüe have now been singing together for nearly 6 years and have performed at a number of Festivals and clubs around the country. They are now resident band at a monthly Folk club in South London.

Rattlin’ Winches

Local Buoys, sorry boys, Ben, Len and Roy must be the hardest working shanty singers at the Festival this year as they perform with three other shanty groups as well. Harwich International Shanty Festival has obviously gone to their heads. Long may it last!

Pot Of Gold

From Swaffham in Norfolk, Pot of Gold sing mainly traditional shanties often accompanied by guitar, banjo, melodeon and percussion. In pre-Covid times, they have performed for us at our Shanty Sundays on the Pier sessions and we are pleased to be able to welcome them to the Festival for the first time.

Hoy Boy

Sailing in from Canvey Island in Essex, Hoy Boy (Peter Purnell) is a young enthusiastic acapella sea shanty soloist with a passion for maritime folk music. Specialising in rousing uplifting shanties from the golden age of sail that will have you joining in with gusto.


This will be the second appearance for The Hoolies from Wivenhoe on the Colne Estuary. Now well established as part of the shanty community, they are in much demand locally for their lively and entertaining versions of traditional and contemporary sea songs.

Pete Stockwell

Long time devotee of all things maritime, Pete has been singing sea songs and shanties for as long as any of us can remember and leads the shanty session at Broadstairs Folk Festival every year. He has been a supporter of our Festival since the beginning and we look forward to welcoming him back in 2021.

Malcolm Ward

An inveterate singer of shanties and folk songs, Malcolm has been performing at clubs and festivals for many years. With a melodious voice and sympathetic accompaniment on concertina, Malcolm joins with Pete Stockwell for most gigs here at Harwich International Shanty Festival.

Golden Rivets

Another home grown band from Harwich Town, the Rivets have been performing together at pubs and clubs for a number of years and their upbeat style and presentation has gained them a loyal following locally.

Felix Stowaways

Blessed with the catchiest name that could be bestowed upon a crew, our Suffolk neighbours the Stowaways join us once again to sing a lively selection of sea songs and shanties. With an ever increasing repertoire and engaging stage presence the Stowaways have made a big impression on the local scene.

Salt Water & Beer

Also from Maldon, Salt Water & Beer have been singing together for a number of years. Originally singing for beer on Maldon Quay they now sing for beer at events much further afield, including our own Harwich International Shanty Festival.

Mains’l Haul

The long Essex Coastline provides plenty of opportunities for Shanty Singing groups to proliferate and regulars at the Festival, Mains’l Haul are another local group this time from Maldon, where there is still a lively seafaring tradition. The group sing mainly acapella, with occasional instrumental accompaniment and have performed at numerous maritime themed events.

Motley Crew

Some years ago now the Motley Crew combined their love of the sea and sailing to form a shanty singing group. Their robust light hearted style of singing soon gained them a following and they have performed at numerous events both locally and further afield. They join us again from their home town of Brightlingsea, just along the Essex Coast.

Hog Eye Men

Named after a traditional sea shanty, the crew share a wealth of experience of singing nautical songs in an authentic fashion. They boast a large and varied repertoire and in “normal” times can be found hosting a monthly sea song and shanty session in central London, from where they join us again this year.

Naze Shanty Crew

Founders of the Harwich International Shanty Festival and enthusiastic promoters of maritime music, the Naze Shanty Crew are thrilled to be performing together again after their enforced rest. Veterans of several maritime festivals at home and abroad, Harwich remains of course, their favourite

Charlotte & Spong

Polished performers and great musicians with a wide repertoire of nautical songs, this duo is always in demand at any Folk or Maritime event. Join in with their popular “Shanty Karaoke Singalong” session on Sunday.

Silver Darlings

This all female crew from the Southend area made a great impression at our 2019 Festival and are set to do the same again as they join us in 2021. They are rapidly making a name for themselves, both locally and further afield, with great voices and lively performances.

Tyburn Road

Talented musicians and singers Ian Giles and Dave Townsend perform together as Tyburn Road, singing sea shanties and maritime songs. Featuring superb vocals, original arrangements and great concertina playing they are a duo not to be missed

Harwich Shanty Crew

Luckily for us, we have our own home grown Shanty Crew to represent the town of Harwich for our Mayflower celebrations. The crew grew out of a workshop we ran at one of our early Festivals and they have been performing locally now for ten years gaining a loyal following.

Swinging The Lead

Popular regulars at the Festival, Swinging the Lead have expanded their line up over recent years to become a six piece band. As resident band on the Cutty Sark and with a Mayflower song of their own, Swinging the Lead are representing Rotherhithe/Southwark as part of our Mayflower celebrations.

Old Gaffers

From the South Hams area of Devon, Old Gaffers are representing their nearby towns of Plymouth and Dartmouth. This is the Gaffers second visit to Harwich and their previous performances made them an instant hit. A large repertoire of sea songs and shanties, professional delivery and easy going style make them a popular choice at venues both locally and further afield.

Ken Stephens

With his relaxed singing style, sensitive concertina playing and dry sense of humour, Ken has been a regular feature at our Festival now for a few years. Couple this with an ability to write songs which again have found their way into the “traditional” genre and Ken’s popularity is obvious. This year he comes to us representing his home town of Southampton in the Mayflower celebrations.

Act Of Mutiny

Another first for us, Act of Mutiny hail from Leiden in the Netherlands, the town where many of the Pilgrims settled before making that historic crossing. The group has a versatile repertoire of traditional and modern shanties, singing mainly in English, sometimes French or Spanish and often accompanied by guitar, banjo, flute, cello and percussion. Look forward to some lively performances.

Shanty Jack

For the past 30 years or more, Shanty Jack (Pete Hayselden) has been a regular fixture at Shanty Festivals both in the UK and abroad. He spent a large part of his life working on Tugs in the Humber and was instrumental in establishing the Hull Sea Fever Festival. This is his first visit to us here in Harwich, he represents the three towns of Boston, Gainsborough and Immingham in his adopted home county of Lincolnshire.

Kimbers Men

We are so pleased to welcome the talented Kimber’s Men back to our Festival this year. Their superb harmonies and great arrangements make them one of the most sought after Shanty Groups in the land. And as true Yorkshire men they are representing the town of Austerfield, Doncaster as part of our Mayflower celebrations.

2021 Festival

Our 2021 Festival features a rather special theme of the Mayflower. Most of you will know that the year 2020 was intended to be a celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower to the New World. Harwich town as the birthplace of both the Mayflower Ship and its Master Christopher Jones, is an important part of that story.

Many towns in England, but also in the Netherlands and of course the U.S.A were planning a joint celebration of this historic occasion, with commemorative events scheduled to take place throughout the year. We all know what happened to that! However there are still hopes to salvage something of this historic occasion and many towns are still staging some events connected to the Mayflower Story.

Here at Harwich International Shanty Festival we have managed to secure Shanty Singers and Crews to represent most of the Mayflower Towns and we have several special events and concerts lined up following this theme. Our Guest List below indicates which Artists are representing a particular Mayflower Town and we look forward to welcoming you to the series of special concerts we have lined up.


Apologies to the many Artists we were unable to host this year. I’m sure you all appreciate what a difficult year it has been for all aspects of the Arts and the music industry. Let’s all support this Festival and start to get events back on track.

Treasure Hunt 2020 renewed!

“At last the 2020 Treasure Hunt!”

Remember 2020? Hmmm, maybe not. Anyway, we promised we would reschedule the Treasure Hunt as soon as the we could – and that brings us to the first weekend after pub gardens can re-open! We are of course grateful to Nick at the Alma for his kind offer to host this event.

Firstly (and most importantly) the Treasure Hunt is wholly dependant on the Coronavirus Rules that pertain on 17th April. Please remember that masks are still currently required whilst you are moving around in the pub. Also, please keep an eye on this page and our social media accounts for the latest news and any updates.

The short info:

  • Meet at the Alma Public House’s new garden between midday and one o’clock on Saturday 17th April to collect your clues 
  • Don’t forget a pencil or a pen, please!
  • £5 per individual or £10 per family
  • Answer sheets should be back by 3pm for marking, results by 3.30pm.

Save time by buying your ticket in advance. Please save/print your confirmation email.

Online tickets are no longer available.

Please buy your ticket at The Alma


The long version:

To collect clues please enter the Alma through the gate at 26, Kings Head Street (to the right of the Alma front doors). Please do not use the Eastgate St entrance.

The gate leads into the new Alma garden. For information, this is soon to be a new seafood restaurant, Lambard’s Salt House. Watch out for a poster on the gate. Here you will find a large heated marquee where you can collect clue sheets between 1200 -1300.

There is table service here for drinks and food and a one way system takes Treasure Hunters out through the door of No. 26, back into Kings Head Street. There are toilet facilities too, so no need to enter the Alma Inn at all.

Completed sheets are due back at the Alma between 1430 and 1500 and competitors should bring their sheets back to the Alma. Please enter the pub through the front door and walk through to the back garden of the Alma (which is also heated). We hope to have all sheets marked and the results ready by 1530. Whilst waiting for results people can take a seat in either of the outdoor areas and again food and drinks are available via table service only.

Alma Inn

Many thanks to Nick May and the Alma staff for their fantastic support.

You can contact the pub to book a meal via their website



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

Mayflower CD “The Harwich Ship”

Our Mayflower CD is back in stock and available via this site priced £5 plus p&p. 

For purchase options please see below.

The Harwich Ship

In 2014 Harwich International Shanty Festival ran a very special project commissioning new songs to commemorate the town’s connections to the Mayflower and its Master, Christopher Jones, who was born and lived in Harwich. We had a fantastic response with some 17 new songs written and a unique concert showcasing the songs. This CD comprises the fruits of everyone’s labours. Unfortunately there are a few songs not able to be represented here, not because of lack of excellence but because the vagaries of a live performance means that occasionally the sound quality is not sufficient.

We apologise to those artists not featured, but hope everyone will agree that the songs which do feature show a wide variety of interesting takes on the subject matter. We very much hope that not only will some of these songs be taken up and sung in clubs and pubs around the land, but that they will awaken an interest in the history of the Mayflower and its voyage to the New World. Harwich can rightly be proud of its heritage and of the fact that such an important aspect of it is now recorded in song.

Thanks go to all artists who took part in this project, including: John Conolly, Old Wild Rovers, Malcolm Ward, Naze Shanty Crew, Alan Lake, Ian Roper & Mick Rogers, Swinging the Lead, Peter Hunt, Bob Watson, Mick Verrier, Alan Whitbread, Gerald Donaldson, Michael Fitzgerald & The Chantey Cabin.

  1. The New World Shanty – The Naze Shanty Crew 2:46
  2. Haul Away Drift Away – Swinging The Lead 2:56
  3. Flowers of May – John Conolly 4:41
  4. Bound For North America – Holland Park Primary School 2:18
  5. Mayflower Last Waltz – Malcolm Ward 4:04
  6. Sign Up With Capt. Jones – Alan Whitbread 3:50
  7. The Tale of Christopher Jones – The Naze Shanty Crew 3:10
  8. Pollyanna..Bob Watson 4:37
  9. The Little Harwich Ship – Ian Roper and Mick Rogers 3:29
  10. Josian Jones – Burning Glass 5:31
  11. We Sail Together – Pete Hunt 4:27

UK postage (£2) included


Europe postage (£3) included


Rest of the world postage (£5) included


Mayflower CD - A Harwich ShipThe CD is available via this site but, if you are having difficulties or require further information, contact us by email – [email protected]





Please ensure your correct address is logged with Paypal