A special weekend event is being staged in Harwich next month as part of the international build up to the 2020 anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to America.
The Illuminate Festival will take place on Friday November 25 and is being led by the Harwich Festival of the Arts and funded by Tendring District Council (TDC).
It will involve a festival of light which will meet up at H’apenny Pier at Harwich Quay at 6pm.
The procession – made up of torch bearers – will head off at 6.30pm to make its way to St Nicholas’s Church where a Mayflower themed Christingle type service will be held.
The parade will pass by the house of Christopher Jones and the home of his first wife Sara Twitt which is now the Alma Pub.
Jones, skipper of the Mayflower, was twice married at the original St Nicholas’ Church in 1593 and then again in 1603.
Residents in Kings Quay Street – where Jones himself lived – will be invited to put lights up in their windows as the procession goes by.
A local Mayflower Group has been set up which includes TDC, Harwich Society, Harwich Festival of Arts, Harwich Mayflower Trust, Harwich Town Council, Essex County Council, and Grand Theatre of Lemmings.
Peter Davis, Artistic Director of the Harwich Festival, said: ‘The programme is coming together and we want to get as many local people involved as possible.
“We will have a replica of the Mayflower, Dovercourt Theatre Group in period costume and musicians and singers from the Shanty Festival, West Gallery Choir and Choral Tradition performing authentic shanties, songs and hymns in the procession to accompany the torch bearers.
“These groups will also perform during the service.”
An art exhibition will be staged at the Mayflower project site with a theme of light and local maritime views.
Giles Watling, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said it is about working with the National Mayflower 400 Compact to benefit Harwich and Tendring.
“The whole aim of the exercise is to maximise the tourism opportunities leading up to 2020, the year itself – and beyond,” he said.
“The anniversary celebrates the birth of American civilisation and Harwich played a key role in the story, a fact that is recognised around the world.
“What we have here is a once in a lifetime opportunity to open up this incredible heritage in Harwich to that world worldwide audience.”