A SPECTACULAR festival of lights, enchanting dancers and impressive projections will mark the start of next year’s once-in-a-generation Mayflower ship anniversary.
The Illuminate Festival is returning to Harwich commemorate the town’s link to the historic ship and its voyage to America 400 years ago.
Harwich has a strong link to the Mayflower, as home of the ship and its captain, Christopher Jones.
Jones’s house still stands in King’s Head Street by Harwich Quay.
The festival, now in its fourth year, is set to be more spectacular than in previous years to mark the anniversary milestone of the Mayflower which set sail in 1620.
Many of its crew were from Harwich who sailed on it to the New World – known today as the United States of America.
The sailors who travelled from Plymouth to America are now known in history as the Pilgrim Fathers.
At the time they were called the English Puritans.
Mike Carran, event director of Harwich Illuminate Festival and head of sport and leisure at Tendring Council, said the festival would really light up the town.
He said: “This year’s Illuminate Festival is bigger and bolder than ever before, as we kick off a year of commemorations marking
400 years since the Mayflower of Harwich set sail for America carrying the Pilgrims who would go on to found the United States of America.
“There is a fantastic programme lined up with everything from street entertainment to cool projections, face paint to dressing-up, and launching it all the parade featuring so many people from our community.
“It is really not an event to be missed.
“I would encourage everyone to come down for both days of Illuminate, as there is a very different feel and lots of different activities on each day to make a return visit worthwhile.
“A huge thank you must go to all of our partners, too numerous to name, without whom this event would not have gone ahead.
“Also remember this is just the start – and we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got ideas for something to commemorate Mayflower 400 during 2020, or beyond.”
Illuminate will be taking place in Harwich Quay tonight and tomorrow night.
Next September will officially mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to America carrying the Pilgrim Fathers. The Illuminate Festival will include a host of incredible live entertainment across the two-day period with some unique acts and impressive projections across the quay with an extraordinary sound and light show.
The main part of this year’s festival will be the Illuminate Parade on Friday evening where crowds will gather from 5pm at the quay to assemble.
The festival is being hosted by Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt.
Saturday will have a more relaxed, festival feel with music hosted by Steve and Ian from 3pm, who are best known for hosting Radio Airshow and BBC Essex programmes. But the skies will come to life from 4.15pm with a fireworks flight from the Fireflies.
The Fireflies are a favourite in the Clacton Airshow twilight display.
Both nights will come to an end at about 10pm.
The Illuminate Festival is free for residents and visitors to attend.
Next year, Harwich is holding a host of Mayflower-themed events which include the Mayflower Half Marathon on April 5, the Harwich Festival of the Arts between
June 25 and July 5 and the Harwich Maritime Festival on August 6.