Illuminate Festival returns to celebrate Historic Harwich

Sparks

A spectacular twilight aerial display will get the 2022 Illuminate Festival off to a flying start in Historic Harwich.

The festival, a celebration of the town’s heritage – and in particular its links to The Mayflower ship which carried the first Pilgrims to America – will return this year after a break forced by Covid-19.

This year Illuminate will be held in March, instead of its usual calendar slot in November to tie in with Thanksgiving, to kick-start a packed events programme in Harwich, and Tendring.

Alex Porter, Tendring District Council (TDC) Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said the event was one not to be missed.

“Showcasing both the amazing heritage in Harwich, and its strong community spirit, Illuminate Festival is a must-see in the events calendar,” Councillor Porter said.

“After our forced absence due to Covid I am glad that the festival is returning to kick-start a year of fantastic events; with Illuminate’s lights, fun and festivities what better way to welcome in 2022.

“Our thanks go to the many and varied community partners helping us to put on this fantastic event.”

The event will run from 6pm until 9.30pm on Friday, 25 March.

More details will be released in the coming weeks, but visitors can expect the return of crowd favourites such as the Spark! drummers, flights, street entertainment and torchlight procession by the local community.

Sparks

For the latest information on the Illuminate Festival people should visit the Historic Harwich website www.historicharwich.co.uk or Facebook page, or check out the LoveTendring tourism and events app, free to download on Apple and Android devices.

Illuminate Festivals have been held by destinations across the world linked by the Mayflower story. The theme is inspired by the words of William Bradford, a Mayflower passenger elected as the settlers’ first governor, who wrote “Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.”

Illuminate-Logo

Harwich was not only home to the Mayflower, which was registered at the port, but several of the crew were residents of the town including the ship’s master and co-owner Christopher Jones – whose house still stands in Kings Head Street.

Other notable Harwich residents on the voyage include the cooper John Alden – the first on-board to set foot on American soil, and whose descendants include Marilyn Monroe and Dick Van Dyke. In total 30 million people worldwide can trace their roots back to the 132 pilgrims and crew from the historic voyage.

Councillor Porter added: “Harwich’s links to The Mayflower are extraordinary, and tangible, and definitely to be both celebrated and enjoyed – whether by visiting Christopher Jones’ House, taking on The Mayflower Trail, or one of the many other excellent Mayflower activities in the town from the Harwich Society and others.”

 

Update March 10th, 2022

A stunning programme has been unveiled for this month’s Illuminate Festival in Historic Harwich.

Visitors will be welcomed along The Quay in the town from 6pm on Friday, 25 March with a performance from local choir Harwich Sing, while street entertainment will mingle with the crowds.

The event will then take to the skies with a spectacular aerobatic flight display from the Fireflies, due to begin at 6.30pm.

Following the aerial show eyes will turn back to The Quay where the dramatic Sparks! drummers will perform as the torch-lit procession forms up behind them to parade around the town.

As the procession returns there will be a feast of entertainment throughout the evening, from stilt walkers and the light gliders, to Sparks! and Harwich Sing; all accompanied by light projections along the waterfront.

Well-known radio presenters Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt will be hosting the event, which runs until 9.30pm, while there are also food stands on and around the event site.

Alex Porter, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism at Tendring District Council (TDC), which is staging the festival, said the event was one not to be missed.

“Illuminate Festival is a brilliant, visually stunning celebration of Harwich’s history, and we’re so excited to bring the event back after its pandemic-forced absence,” Councillor Porter said.

“The festival is fun for all the family, with children encouraged to take part in the procession, so why not wrap up and spend your Friday evening in beautiful Harwich?”

TDC is working with the Harwich Festival of the Arts, who are running lantern making workshops in local schools to form the torch-lit procession, and the Grand Theatre of Lemmings which is providing the street entertainment.

For the latest information on the Illuminate Festival people should visit the Historic Harwich website (www.historicharwich.co.uk(link is external)) or Facebook page, or check out the LoveTendring tourism and events app, free to download on Apple and Android devices.

The 2019 Harwich Illuminate Festival saw an estimated 6,000 visitors across two days of activities.

Update March 21, 2022

Why not kickstart a weekend away in Historic Harwich with Illuminate Festival?

Visitors heading to Harwich for the sparkling Illuminate Festival are being encouraged to extend their stay in the historic town.

Illuminate Festival, being held on Harwich Quay from 6pm on Friday, 25 March, will see street entertainment and projections, a spectacular aerial display from The Firebirds and torch-lit procession lead by the incredible Spark! drummers. Festivities continue on until 9.30pm.

People are being encouraged to make a weekend of their trip, staying in one of the several quality hotels in and around the town.

To find out more about travelling to, staying in and eating out around Harwich visit www.historicharwich.co.uk(link is external).

Alex Porter, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism at Tendring District Council (TDC), which is staging Illuminate Festival, encouraged people to plan their visit in advance.

“There is so much history in Harwich, and so much to see and do as a result, I’d really recommend people make a weekend of it,” Councillor Porter said.

“Why not enjoy Illuminate Festival then stay in a hotel, try some of the fabulous eateries and explore the various trails, museums and other places to go over the Saturday and Sunday?

“There is plenty to see and enjoy at the Festival, while food and drink can be found either at one of the vendors within the event area or in the numerous local businesses in Historic Harwich.”

Local residents are encouraged to walk or cycle to the event. Those coming from further afield can take a train service to Harwich Town, and then enjoy a ten-minute walk to the Festival, or take a bus service from Colchester or Clacton.

Visitors planning on driving to the festival can use the event car park at Harwich Green – accessed from Harbour Crescent – which opens from 5pm, or one of the nearby public car parks.

“Illuminate Festival is such a spectacular experience you really don’t want to miss out – but we all know that to get the most from your trip it’s useful to work out beforehand how you’re getting there and where you’re staying,” Councillor Porter added.

 

The 2019 Harwich Illuminate Festival saw an estimated 6,000 visitors across two days of activities.

Sarah Daniells
Author: Sarah Daniells

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