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Fun at Great Yarmouth's Maritime Festival with sail, steam and shanties

Spanish folk group El Pony Pisador

Quaysides at Great Yarmouth will host a fun festival marking the town’s long and proud connection with the sea this weekend.

Ships, shanty music, and soldiers re-enacting stories from Napoleonic times will combine with crafts, family entertainment and the smell of herring cooking as the Maritime Festival marks its coming of age in its 18th year.

The free-entry event on Saturday and Sunday September 9th and 10th attracts around 30,000 visitors.

One of the ships they can board – for a fee – is the Kaskelot, a Danish three-masted barque which is also a TV and film star, having featured in the Poldark TV series, and movies including Return to Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers.
Another is the unique George Stephenson - a brand new steam ship built using recycled or salvaged parts from ships, boats and buildings including propellers sourced from a French aircraft carrier, wooden decks from an Indian school and a whistle from a New York tug boat.

Great Yarmouth’s rich history is showcased by the colourful red-tunicked East Norfolk Militia, who, 200 years ago escorted prisoners of war from incoming ships, and marched them to King’s Lynn before they were put on barges to a POW camp near Peterborough.

The timeless tunes of sea shanties and folk songs will fill the air as a range of singers and musicians perform on the quayside stages. They are headlined by five-piece Spanish group El Pony Pisador (prancing pony) returning by popular demand after going down a storm with crowds last year.

The Festival, which was first held in 2000, is staged by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area (GYTABIA), as part of its drive to attract visitors and spending to the borough.

Chairman of the organising committee Aileen Mobbs said: “It is shaping up to be a very exciting festival with a great mix of boats, music and attractions.
“The Festival is a family event offering plenty to do for children as well as their parents. We hope our visitors young and old enjoy exploring Great Yarmouth’s seafaring links through fun activities.”

Youngsters can tackle a variety of have-a-go activities including making a balsa wood boat, herring kites, a dragonfly, or try lace-making and knot-tying on the tall ship.

Street entertainers will also be out and about, and there is traditional seaside fun at a Punch and Judy show.

A heritage hub offers a chance to make your own postcards and tackle the mystery object game while learning about the town’s history over the past 150 years.

New this year is a Ready Steady Paint Challenge, where artists can join a masterclass with popular local artist Ernie Childs, and craft a picture with a seafaring theme. To take part, submit an application form.