Great to celebrate

PUBLISHED: 15:42 01 September 2015 | UPDATED: 15:43 01 September 2015

Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival returns this month. Pictured here are members of Inner State Theatre Company taking part last year.

Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival returns this month. Pictured here are members of Inner State Theatre Company taking part last year.


Great Yarmouth is painting on its festival face as it prepares to host a string of blockbuster events this month. Liz Coates reports.

The summer holiday hordes may have gone home, but Great Yarmouth is anything but quiet. In a town heavy with history, the end of the summer season these days brings with it a new sense of optimism.

Shrugging off its bucket and spade image, the town is bracing itself for a new wave of trippers - a long-held goal of tourism chiefs looking to tap into new markets and create a year-round resort. And now with two fantastic events - the Maritime Festival and Out There Festival - firmly embedded in Norfolk’s community calendar and a new one being launched, September is the time to visit.

Now in its 16th year, the Maritime Festival celebrates hundreds of years of nautical and herring heritage. Crafts, demonstrations, sea shanties and attractions fill the quayside while a flotilla of various craft bob nearby. It returns on Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6, to show off the town’s proud maritime past.

Visiting ships include The Götheborg, the world’s largest wooden sailing ship, and the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s Lord Nelson, a modern day tall ship especially designed for a crew with a range of disabilities - with some offering sea trips to the public. It is the first time that The Götheborg from Sweden will be seen at a UK maritime festival. The event is a real family affair, with fun activities for children, costumed characters weaving in and out of the crowds and impromptu street theatre.

A quick gear change sees the town hosting its first GY Wheels Festival, featuring a rocket-powered super car. The star attraction at the festival taking place on Marine Parade over two days on September 12 and 13, will be a full-sized replica of a Bloodhound SSC, a British-built jet and rocket-powered super car that is designed to reach speeds of 1000mph. It is the only location in East Anglia that the Bloodhound Roadshow is coming to before the team heads to South Africa in summer 2016.

And it isn’t all about high performance - the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, the Inbetweeners car, Barbie’s car, a Hummer and limousines will all be parked on the seafront. Youngsters can also join in the fun making and racing compressed air-powered K’Nex cars.

Finally, fire and fiesta will mingle in a street procession based on the Mexican Day of the Dead as the Out There Festival rolls into town from September 18 to 20. The spectacular showpiece after-dark parade, performed by Tambours de la Muerte from France, will build to a stunning dance and drumming performance and end with a Portuguese party band to keep the fiesta feel going.

Top billing for the festival is also given to Lost in Translation’s The Hogwallops, which will arrive in Yarmouth straight from The Edinburgh Fringe.

Finally, Great Yarmouth Festival of Bowls celebrates its 70th year on the greens throughout September. It is the biggest outdoor bowling event in the country played out over four weeks attracting thousands of visitors and players.

Barry Coleman, vice chair of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, says there is plenty to look forward to as autumn arrives. “Great Yarmouth has worked really hard over many years to ensure that September is now our second busiest tourist month of the year, using festivals and other events to draw visitors in after the main school summer holidays have ended. The Maritime Festival, Festival of Bowls, Heritage Open Days, the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts and now the new Great Yarmouth Wheels Festival all contribute towards extending the season. While we are blessed with a fabulous range of attractions, events and festivals are a great way of giving visitors compelling reasons to choose Greater Yarmouth for their short breaks or weekend away over anywhere else.”

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