A brand new, free festival is set to launch in Whitby this weekend and will celebrate everything that’s special about the Yorkshire Coast’s magnificent maritime culture.
The Fish and Ships festival will see Whitby come alive with live music and entertainment.
The town’s heroic fishermen – and women – will also be celebrated, with the help of a specially-commissioned sculpture by renowned Yorkshire sculptor Emma Stothard – ‘A Whitby Fisherlass’.
There’ll be plenty of food
The festival will also feature cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli and Brian Turner, 40 hours of live music, madcap street theatre, inspired artworks, a grand pier-side firework display, fantastic food and family fun.
Visitors to the festival will be able to explore Whitby’s fishing life first-hand, not just tasting seafood, but finding out from local experts how to catch, fillet and dress a huge variety of locally-caught seafood – and even seeing how a local 24-metre fishing trawler is built at one of the UK’s most successful boat-builders, Parkol Marine Engineering.
Celebrity TV chef Ben Bartlett, perhaps better known as BBQ Ben – or Britain’s best BBQer – will be cooking up a feast of freshly cooked, locally caught, fish on the festival barbecues on Tate Hill Pier from 3pm to 10pm on Saturday 18 May, ahead of the grand firework display which starts at 10pm.
And loads of live music
It’ll be sea shanties galore as the festival puts on wall-to-wall live music, here’s what to expect:
- Friday May 17, 7pm ‘All Aboard’ festival opening concert at Whitby Brewery
- Saturday May 18, 10am – 10pm at Dock End
- Saturday May 18, 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Whitby Abbey
- Saturday May 18, 11am – 6.00pm at Whitby Brewery, including Open Session of sea songs and shanties from 11am, plus an extra evening gig from 7.30 – 10pm
- Saturday May 18, 2pm – 3pm at Whitby Library
- Sunday May 19, 10.30am – 5pm at Dock End
- Sunday May 19, 11am – 6.30pm at Whitby Brewery, including an Open Session of sea songs and shanties from 11.00am.
Sunday May 19, 12 noon – 2pm Song for the Sea competition.
Drop-in workshops to make aqua-world movies ‘Wallace & Gromit’ style with Aardman animator Virpi Kettu will be held in Whitby Library on Saturday May 18 (10am – 12pm and 1-3pm)
Local artist Serena Partridge will show visitors how to cook up a felted fish supper and how to sail the seas in flip-book animation sessions on Sunday 19 May, also in Whitby library.
Meanwhile, it’s all hands on deck in Whitby’s Art Gallery, as visitors help to create a giant knitted maritime masterpiece, with artists Dr Elizabeth Gaston and Dr Jane Scott.
Elsewhere, visitors who dare to walk into the jaws of a whale will be surprised to discover their own personal story-telling submarine, with thrilling tales of life at sea sung by submariner, Jonah.
The quest to find Yorkshire’s champions of the sea will be decided on Sunday, when the winners of three fishermen’s challenges – to land the heaviest fish, row the fastest boat, and compose the greatest fishing song at Whitby’s Fish – will be announced.
The competitions are free to watch and will take place at:
- 10am – 4pm, Whitby Sea Anglers Association has set the challenge to land the heaviest single fish. The sea-angling competition is taking place between Filey and Skinningrove , with the weigh-in held between 4pm–5pm at Whitby’s Fish Market on Pier Road, and a prize haul of £1,000 for the winner, thanks to the Quayside restaurant.
- From 12 noon, the men, women and children of Whitby Fishermen’s Amateur Rowing Club will battle to win in six races against the town’s Friendship Rowing Club, starting out at sea with the finish-line at Whitby’s Fish Pier, by the Lifeboat Station. The rowing races are an old local tradition dating back almost 150 years, with both clubs founded by local fishermen to show off their boat-handling skills.
- Fishermen are also seeking a new Song for Sea, either a toe-tapping shanty or a soulful sea-ballad celebrating Whitby’s fishing heritage. The Great North Songwriting Competition is open to everyone (although entrants need to register in advance), with judging taking place between 12 noon and 2pm at Whitby Library, and the winner performing alongside some of the world’s greatest maritime musicians on the main stage at the festival’s finale concert later that afternoon.
For the full programme and more information, visit the Discover Yorkshire Coast website .
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