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Harwich Shanty Festival

On the 5th, 6th and 7th October Harwich again will resound with music and song when the 13th annual Harwich International Shanty Festival takes place in musical celebration of Harwich’s rich maritime heritage.

It is the second largest shanty festival in the UK and this year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than ever! There will be thirty seven artists travelling to Harwich to perform, from The Netherlands, Brittany, Belgium, Spain, Russia and all over the UK.  Much of the entertainment takes place in the local pubs and there are many events at the Redoubt Napoleonic Fort.  The festival uses 36 venues throughout the town, bringing business to over 25 of those venues and a typical shanty weekend brings over 4000 people to the town, filling all guest houses, hotels, pubs and restaurants!

There are concerts, sing-a-round sessions, workshops, illustrated talks, maritime crafts and many events are free!  In the 2017 festival there were 156 events of which 126 were free of charge!

Back by popular demand are El Pony Pisador from Barcelona, who wowed the Festival last year with their vibrant, exciting and varied performances and Nordet from Lorient in Brittany. Other top acts include The Exmouth Shanty Men, The Norfolk Broads and the Rogues Shanty Buoys from Lowestoft.

A 90 minute trip on board the Thames Sailing Barge “Victor” and featuring entertainment from our festival artists is always a highlight of the weekend. And this year there will be two trips on the Friday of the Festival as well as on Saturday and Sunday – eight trips in all throughout the weekend. There will also be a Shanty Train with entertainment on board and activity packs for children, running backwards and forwards between Harwich Town and Manningtree Station.

Car parking will be available in the Trinity House car park at the end of West Street and there will be a shanty bus to transport people around the town. 

We are actively looking for stewards at the Festival. Join in with a great team of people and see the festival ‘from the inside’. In return for some help over the weekend you will receive a Stewards’ Wristband offering free access to most events. If you are interested, please email:

For full details of all events and to buy advance tickets visit


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