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Family Fun for Free at Whitby’s New Fish & Ships Festival

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Whitby’s streets will be alive with fun-filled and free family entertainment when new seaside spectacular, the Fish & Ships Festival, in association with Seafish, takes over the town on 18–19 May.

Madcap comedy, movie-making, music, and even mermaids add up to a weekend of non-stop entertainment from morning until night for people of all ages in a giant celebration of Whitby’s magnificent maritime culture – its fish and ships.

Free festival highlights include:

  • Visitors who dare to walk into the jaws of the whale will be surprised to discover their own personal story-telling submarine, with thrilling tales of life at sea sung by submariner, Jonah.
  • Flotsam and Jetsam will create music and mayhem as they take a wandering walkabout with their comedy fishing boats in the slowest boat race visitors will ever have seen
  • Come face to face with people from Whitby’s past (expertly played by living historians, People From The Past), including a herring girl, 19th-century whaler-man, Ol Abel Parkin who voyaged with Captain Cook in the 18th century, and a local mermaid who knows all about the tasty local seafood… They’ll also be showing visitors how to build a crow’s nest – a lookout teetering on the top of a ship’s mast
  • Enjoy over 40 hours of free, live maritime music, including top-tapping sea shanties and soulful sailor’s ballads, with some of the UK’s top sea-singers and musicians performing throughout the town. Visitors will also get the chance to see the winner of the festival’s Song for the Sea competition on the main stage during Sunday afternoon’s finale gig. Dancing is highly encouraged!
  • Make aqua-world movies ‘Wallace & Gromit’ style with Aardman animator Virpi Kettu in Whitby Library on 18 May (10am–12pm and 1-3pm in half-hour drop-in workshops). 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.
  • There are live seafood demos throughout the day in the Food Theatre, including appearances by TV chefs Brian Turner and Jean-Christophe Novelli. Families can also find out how to catch, dress and eat famous Whitby crab!
  • Families can decorate ship’s biscuits, once essential as sailor’s rations, but served up as a tastier treat for the festival by the Endeavour Experience and Captain Cook Memorial Museum by the harbour for the festival.
  • Local attractions are also getting in the festival spirit with free family activities celebrating Whitby’s fish and ships, including the Lego Shipbuilding Competition at Whitby Museum; taking on the ammonite quest at Whitby Abbey; or finding out just how disgusting ship’s food really was in the past on board HM Bark Endeavour (admission charges apply).
  • A quayside firework finale from 10pm on 18 May.
  • Janet Deacon, festival organiser and Tourism and Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome To Yorkshire says: “From the building of its boats to its multi award-winning fish restaurants, Whitby is one of the few places left in Britain where you can still experience the seafarer’s way of life from sea to shore, as it’s been for hundreds of years. Whitby was once an international maritime centre, and visitors will not only be able to enjoy top-notch seaside entertainment during the week, but will have the unique opportunity to explore first-hand how today’s seafarers are building on tradition to put top quality seafood on Britain’s plates, in their own unique and sustainable way.”
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