A family-friendly procession and performance will celebrate Harwich’s involvement in the sailing of The Mayflower to America later this month.
The Illuminate Festival returns for the third year on November 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving, to commemorate the town’s link to the historic vessel and voyage.
An illuminated civic procession will lead the way from Ha’Penny Pier down to Harwich Green, and the public are invited to join the procession too.
Gathering from 6pm at the Ha’Penny Pier and by the lit-up LV 18 Lightship the procession will set off on its parade at 6.30pm, and will include a giant puppet lantern of Christopher Jones – captain of The Mayflower – and a lantern of The Mayflower too. Performers from the Dovercourt Theatre Group will also be there in period costume.
Processing along Kings Head Street, led by dignitaries and representatives from local organisations, the parade will pass Captain Jones’ House, which will be illuminated, before continuing on to the Guildhall before reaching Harwich Green.
On the Green, community choir Harwich Sing will perform four songs on a theme of light, with a backdrop of the Low and High Lighthouses and the Treadwheel Crane all being illuminated.
An Illuminate poem, inspired by a quote from Mayflower Pilgrim William Bradford – “just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many” – will also be read.
Michael Offord, from the Harwich Festival which organises the event on behalf of Tendring District Council (TDC), said he was looking forward to lighting up the town.
“Illuminate Festivals take place at Mayflower 400 destinations right across the country and I am excited that once again Harwich will be a part of it,” he said.
“I really encourage people to come along and join in the procession or spectate and bring their own lantern – though no naked flames please.”
Mick Skeels, TDC Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, added that as this year’s Illuminate Festival stepped up from last year it would be a great preview of even bigger things in 2019.
“In 2020 we will be marking 400 years since the sailing of The Mayflower, and a year of celebrations will be bookended by magnificent Illuminate Festivals in 2019 and 2020,” Cllr Skeels said.
“Historic Harwich really has the most personal relationship with The Mayflower, being home to the vessel and its captain and with his home still standing, and it is great to celebrate this with the Illuminate Festival.”
Charlie Powell, Mayor of Harwich, said the festival was a great showcase of the town.
“We know how wonderful Harwich is, but to be able to shine a light on it – literally – in this way will, we hope, really shout about this to others,” Cllr Powell said.
“I’d really urge our residents to come along and join in this wonderful occasion.”
The evening is expected to have ended by 8pm.
A workshop is taking place this week at Mayflower Primary School, in Dovercourt, where pupils will help to create lanterns for the event.