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Folk music and shanty songs at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Shanty and folk music is performed throughout the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival on three stages as the town celebrates its proud maritime past and maritime future. Shanty songs were traditionally sung by sailors as they raised the mainsheet and set sail on their long journeys at sea.

The musical programme is managed by Great Yarmouth based Sue and John Griffiths who have been performing as shanty singers, The Mollyhawks, since the late 1990s.

Have a look at some of our videos below to see our 2017 performers in action.

El Pony Pisador

El Pony Pisador were our headline act for 2017. This 5-strong Spanish folk group, El Pony Pisador, roughly translated as The Prancing Pony, took the 2016 Maritime Festival by storm! They entertained with rhythms and melodies from traditional Irish tunes, to sea shanties, havaneres, tuvan throat singing, tarantellas & yodelling from around the world.

This great young band from Barcelona includes Adrià Vila, Guillem Codern, Miquel Pérez, Martí Selga and Ramon Anglad. Many of the songs they performed are featured on their recently released debut album, Yarr’s i Trons!

Kimber's Men

Kimber's Men wow the audience with their wonderful harmonies and renditions of traditional, contemporary and self-penned songs of the sea and have appeared at most major UK maritime festivals and on BBC4's successful series "Sea Songs". We were delighted to welcome them back for 2017.

The band includes Neil Kimber,John Bromley, Gareth Scott and Steve Smith. They all enjoy sailing tall ships including their favourite square rigger Stavros S Niarchos, teaching the 56 crew members to work the ship to traditional sea shanties.

Sheringham Shantymen

Formally launched in 1990, Sheringham Shantymen is a group of both serving and former lifeboat men who have developed their own unique style of performing, constantly refining songs and music to entertain the crowds whilst remaining true to their roots.

Last year, they welcomed some new younger members to the crew who will help develop new ideas for the future as well as making their 7th CD with a selection of their favourite songs. Previous gigs include performances on the BBC's The One Show and BBC Look East.

Blakeney Old Wild Rovers

This north Norfolk based shanty and folk band formed in 1999 whose repertoire runs from traditional shanties and sea songs to original and humorous songs about our local area. The group have raised nearly £200,000 for a range of national and local charities. They perform a mix of traditional tunes to humorous local songs at festivals, events and one-off concerts as well as in pubs in north Norfolk.

The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads are a four-piece female ensemble who enjoy singing low-pitched folk songs about love, despair and dastardly boyfriends.The Broads supply their repertoire of traditional stories with a contemporary verve and energy, using old songs to fuel new perspectives on the lives of women both from the past and the present. 

The Longest Johns

The Longest Johns are a Bristol based, a capella folk music band, born out of a mutual love of traditional folk songs and shanties. They rock maritime songs alongside the more unusual and less traditional folk tunes. They've taken their harmonies to new heights whilst always retaining just the right mix of quality and hilarity. The Johns bring a new feel to audiences wherever they go.

Inner State

Inner State
A duo, Christine Bissell and Andy Andrews, who do music spots on stage ranging from skiffle to rock and roll - but are mainly a walkabout mini theatre company, with a "leaning towards historical and maritime related nonsense", who have been regulars at the Maritime Festival for many years.

Rogues Shanty Chorus

Rogues Shanty Chorus

A North Suffolk based collective of singers that celebrate the musical heritage of the East Anglian coast.

The band sing sea shanties and arias about the sea as well as whaling songs, naval songs, working songs, foc'sle songs and romantic old century tunes of ne'er-do-wells.


Great Yarmouth based shanty duo John and Sue Griffiths, who devise the festival music programme, also perform as the Mollyhawks duo.

They perform an acapella harmony to old and new shanties and songs of the sea.

Lowestoft Longshoremen

Lowestoft Longshoremen
A motley crew from nearby Lowestoft, who perform traditional and sea shanty type songs.

A favourite song - but no guest appearance by Derek Ryan at the festival that we know of!

Maritime and shanty music on three stages at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Waves of seafaring folk music filled the salty air at Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival this September.

The major free two-day event, which is set to attract 30,000 people to the resort’s river port over the second weekend in September, is a showcase for the area’s nautical history - which includes links to Lord Nelson and being a key hub in the heydays of the herring industry.

Shanty songs were traditionally sung by sailors as they hauled up the sails as they set off to sea – but the timeless tunes remain popular today with their blend of lilting tunes and folksy words harking back to bygone days on the briny.

The music is an integral part of the festival, adding to the atmosphere at the quayside, as performers take to three stages alongside the array of historic and modern ships providing static displays as the town showcases its maritime past, present and future.

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