The streets of Harwich will be lit up once again next month with a festival aimed at promoting the town’s strong links with the Mayflower Ship. Illuminate 2017 will take place on November 24th with a promise from organizers that it will return even bigger and better than last year.
Tendring District Council (TDC) has invited Harwich Festival to run the celebration for the second year and it will involve as many local people as possible using local contacts in performing and creative arts. Schools are being asked to take part by making lanterns and then taking part in the procession and performance.
People will gather at Ha’penny Pier at 6pm with a replica of the Mayflower ship on display and members of the Dovercourt Theatre Group in costume. There will be a torchlight procession led by folk musicians along Kings Head Street to St Nicholas’ Church where a special themed service will be conducted by the Rev Canon Margaret Shaw. Lanterns will be hung in the church; the Illuminate poem will be read and there will be various musical performances as well as readings, hymns and psalms.
The Illuminate Festival was held for the first time last year and the aim was always to repeat following the initial success. The festival is all part of the lead up to 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage to America set to be celebrated in 2020. Peter Davis, Artistic Director of the Harwich Festival, said that he is delighted that plans are coming together for another very special evening of celebration.
“We were very pleased when TDC came back and asked us to organise the event again and we are determined that it will be even bigger and better this time around,” he said.
“The response was excellent in 2016 – as was the feedback we received – and this is another chance to bring the community together to celebrate our links with the Mayflower. “We are keen for as many local groups, schools and individuals as possible to get involved in some way.”
The Mayflower was a ship of Harwich and was skippered by Christopher Jones, a local man twice married in St Nicholas’ Church. Harwich was the starting point for the celebrated journey which took the Pilgrim Fathers to America. Mick Skeels, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said that Illuminate 2017 will be another significant event for Harwich in particular and Tendring as a whole.
“Our list of events just continues to grow and this one has a very special significance for the people of Harwich and Dovercourt,” he added. “I am sure that they will fully support it and it would be great if others from across the District turn out on November 24th”. “Hopefully it could even attract people from outside the area and become a real visitor attraction as we lead up to 2020.”