Shanty festival’s take on Glastonbury


In 2019 Port Isaac was desperate to raise funds for an extension to its village hall, so in September the village’s Shanty Girls organised a shanty festival which was a great success. Plans were formulated for a second one in 2020 but Covid got in the way. Last year they held the second shanty festival and in 2023, having gone from strength to strength, number three took place on April 22 and 23. The programme stated: “We can’t promise that you won’t be singing in the howling wind and rain but we can promise you we will all be singing and having the best of times.”

The Fisherman’s Friends Port Isaac’s Shanty Festival

No truer a word was spoken. Port Isaac was determined to give everyone a taste of Glastonbury and as the rain rained the fields got muddier and muddier. No-one seemed to mind and the event was another rousing success.

Martin Bruce, founder of Round Rye Bay Singers in Rye Harbour, was asked to sing on the Saturday. The narrow streets were filled with people jostling for a place at the venues. All the cafés, hotels and pubs taking part were filled to rafters and everyone joined in the choruses, fuelled by the local ales and ciders.

Martin commented: “It was both a privilege and great fun to line up alongside groups such as The Fisherman’s Friends to share shanties and sea songs. I was particularly pleased and proud to give audiences a taste of material from this part of East Sussex – Round Rye Bay for More, Rye Harbour Girl, Long Tall Sally and John All-Alone, for example. These were songs that had certainly never been heard in Port Isaac or by Cornish folk before, and they went down well.”

The festival took place over two days and the final act was the Fisherman’s Friends who drew a huge crowd to the main stage. It was a wonderful experience and raised lots of money for the village hall: certainly an event not to be missed.

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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