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WHITBY FISH AND SHIPS FESTIVAL RETURNS TO TOWN LATER THIS MONTH

Celebrating Whitby’s past, present and future is at the heart of a major festival which returns to the seaside town later this month.

While the annual Fish and Ships Festival is a time to remember the town’s heritage, it is also about championing those that make the area what it is today.

The free festival takes place on Saturday 18th Sunday 19th May, with everything from live cookery from top local chefs to uplifting live music, street theatre and demonstrations of traditional arts and crafts.

It is one of a series of live events organised by North Yorkshire Council aimed at bringing a more diverse range of visitors to the coast during the main tourism season.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for the visitor economy, Cllr Derek Bastiman, said: “This year’s Fish and Ships Festival has a really strong emphasis on community, and we have a great many local businesses, organisations and individuals involved.

“This is very much a festival for both the people of Whitby and surrounding area, as well as the tourists who contribute to the growing visitor economy and I would encourage everyone to experience it.”

A key feature of the festival is the fish craft marquee, on Endeavour Wharf, where skilled filleters from Lockers Fish, Hodgson Fish, Sandgate Seafoods and Whitby Seafish will showcase their filleting and preparation skills, with chef competitions thrown into the mix.

Head chef at the famous Magpie Café on Pier Road, Paul Gildroy, is looking forward to entertaining and informing the crowds alongside Andrew Barker, of Hodgson Fish.

Mr Gildroy said: “It’s a fun filled half-hour each day. Andrew and I bounce off each other well and have become quite a team.

“A key part of what we do is making people aware of just what we have on our doorstep. We have a big fish display and everything on it has been caught in UK waters.

“We really want to showcase what we have got and then show just how easy it is to cook and prepare it.”

Mr Gildroy said while the industry’s heyday may be in the past, fishing still had a big role to play in Whitby.

“Fishing is still very important to the town,” he said. “It was one of the biggest white fish ports in the country at one point.

“Unfortunately, that is not the case now, but we have evolved and diversified and are now the third biggest shellfish port.

“Showcasing that is very important, to show that Whitby is still a thriving fishing port.”

Mr Gildroy said the festival was a great opportunity for the community to come together.

“We are blessed to live and work in Whitby and for this year’s festival we were very keen to showcase the people and organisations that make the town what it is,” he said.

“For example, we have a marquee for Whitby’s museums. In the past, they have done things in their own areas, but this time we have brought them down to the dockside.

“The festival is definitely for those visiting the town, but it is also one for the locals. We want this to be an event they want to come to, one that they look forward to and enjoy and I think this year we have something for everyone.”

Bidi Iredale will be entertaining festivalgoers with fishing songs from long ago and tales of those who used to work along the east coast.

“Most of my work takes me out of town and I am trying more and more to do things locally, so this festival is ideal for me as it’s right on my doorstep,” she said.

“I perform historical walkabouts and one of my characters is Janet the herring lassie. She is inspired by a character in a play by Anne Coburn.

“Janet walks about the dock telling folk stories from her herring lassie days and singing songs. I stay in character all day and it is a really lovely way of interacting with people.”

Ms Iredale said the Fish and Ships Festival was something to be proud of.

“For me, it’s a celebration of local people, local produce and the things that they do,” she said. “I think Whitby must mean lots of different things to different people, but I think they are always surprised by the fact the festival is so locally based.

“It’s a festival that celebrates us, where people are encouraged to join in and that has to be good.”

Music is a highlight of the festival and Darren Archibald, of Whitby Sea Salt, has helped put together a fantastic bill, featuring the likes of Sam Lenton, Falsetto Frank and the Longmen and Sunbeam, with the help of Barry Brown, of Fortunes Kippers, and Richard Wells, of Whitby Brewery.

Mr Archibald is behind the Made in Whitby festivals, held at the brewery, and is delighted to be taking part.

“The idea for ‘Made in Whitby’ came just after lockdown and from conversations with local producers, makers, and entertainers,” he said.

“We wanted to showcase the skills, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and creative spirit that supports the tourism industry and helps maintain and enhance that fabulous Whitby vibe.

“The Whitby Fish and Ships Festival gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase some terrific local bands and musicians and also one or two from afar and we can’t wait for things to get underway.”

Programme of events


Saturday, May 18


Seafood Kitchen Marquee, Dock End 


10.30am: Phil Akrill, The Talbot, Malton.

11.30am: Paul Gildroy, The Magpie Café, Whitby and Andrew Barker, Hodgson Fish.

12.30pm: Kath Breckon, NYES Catering and Knorr professional education ambassador.

1.30pm: Maggie Lubaszewska, Trenchers, Whitby.

2.30pm: Dan Hargreaves, Embers, Scarborough.

3.30pm: Andrew Nightingale, The Hare and Hounds, Hawsker.


Museums Marquee, Endeavour Wharf  


10am Marquee opens.

10.30-11am: “Life, Love, Chips”.

11am-12.30pm: Collage workshop including puppetry.

12.30pm-1pm: “Storm in a Chip Shop”.

1.15pm-1.45pm: “Life, Love, Chips”.

1.45pm-3.30pm: Collage workshop including puppetry.

3.30pm-4pm: “Storm in a Chip Shop”.

4pm: Marquee closes. 


Music Marquee, Endeavour Wharf 


11am: Marquee opens.

12.30pm-2pm: Old Time Sailors.

2.30pm-3.30pm: Sam Lenton.

4pm-5.30pm: Falsetto Frank.

6pm-7.30pm: Mackie.

8pm-9.30pm: Sunbeam.

9.30pm-11pm: DJ.

11pm: Marquee closes.


Whitby Bandstand, Pier Road 


11am: Auckland Shanty Singers.

11.40am: Mel Langton.

12.05pm: JIB.

12.35pm: Men of Staithes.

1.10pm: Beth Burrows.

1.30pm: Helen Pitt and Steve Dawes.

2pm: Fylingdales Folk Choir.

2.40pm: Boathook Bald.

3pm: Roger Sutcliffe.

3.40pm: JIB.

4.10pm: Finish.


Sunday, May 19

Seafood Kitchen Marquee, Dock End 


10.30am: Phil Akrill, The Talbot, Malton.

11.30am: Paul Gildroy, The Magpie Café, Whitby and Andrew Barker, Hodgson Fish.

12.30pm: Kath Breckon, NYES Catering and Knorr professional education ambassador.

1.30pm: Jon Appleby, The Feversham Arms, Helmsley.

2.30pm: Dan Hargreaves, Embers, Scarborough.

3.30pm: Andrew Nightingale, The Hare and Hounds, Hawsker.


Museums Marquee, Endeavour Wharf  


10am: Marquee Opens.

10.30-11am: “Life, Love, Chips”.

11am-12.30pm Collage workshop including puppetry.

12.30pm-1pm “Storm in a Chip Shop”.

1.15pm-1.45pm “Life, Love, Chips”.

1.45pm-3.30pm: Collage Workshop including puppetry.

3.30pm-4pm: “Storm in a Chip Shop”.

4pm Marquee closes.


Music Marquee, Endeavour Wharf 


10am Marquee opens.

11am-12.30pm: Men of Staithes.

1.45pm-3.30pm: The Jack-Tars.

4pm: Marquee closes.


Whitby Bandstand, Pier Road 


11am: Lynda Hardcastle and Alan Rose.

11.35am: Auckland Shanty Singers.

12.10pm: Mel Langton.

12.30pm: Esk Valley Concert Band and Whitby Jazz Collective.

2.15pm: Beth Burrows.

2.35pm: Auckland Shanty Singers.

3.05pm: Boathook Bald.

3.25pm: Richard Grainger and Chris Parkinson.

4pm: Finish.


In addition, there will be street entertainment and local exhibitors and stalls throughout the two days.

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