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Whitby Fish and Ships Festival

in association with Seafish UK

18th - 19th May 2019

Celebrate Whitby’s Fishing Heritage at this FREE Festival

Explore everything that’s special about the Yorkshire Coast’s magnificent maritime culture, from the building of its boats to its multi award-winning fish restaurants.

Choose from an endless choice of activities at this jaunty weekend, so much to enjoy for all the family.

Whitby is one of the few places left in Britain where you can still experience the seafarer’s way of life from sea to shore, as it has been for hundreds of years.

Fish Market

Whitby Fish Market

Over the festival weekend Fish Quay, on Pier Road will be see a range of demonstrations by local fishermen, fishmongers and chefs. Within the fish market they will showcasing their fish craft skills such fish filleting demo’s and crab dressing, whilst on the pier you can witness the talents required for net mending and lobster pot mending, by the fishermen who rely on them for their trade. Sponsored by Whitby’s Lockers Fish.

During the Saturday enjoy some tasty cooking at the Magpie Cooking station and late on enjoy some live music and a drink alongside the demo’s.

Seafood Kitchen

Seafood KitchenBe inspired in the seafood kitchen theatre by top local and celebrity chefs who will be cooking up some live action seafood treats. There’s something fishy going on as celebrity chef Brian Tuner CBE drops anchor on the Saturday whilst on Sunday French celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli brings some Mediterranean flavour to the festival.

Outside of the theatre, a pop kitchen will give spectators an opportunity to see chefs cooking up mouth-watering seafood dishes to sample, with examples of different types of fish as promoted by our sponsors, Seafish UK.

Angling Competition

Angling Competition

Sunday 19th - Whitby Sea Anglers Association will be running the Whitby Fish & Ships Festival Open, a one day open fishing competition celebrating Whitby’s Fish & Ships.

First prize for the heaviest single fish will be £1000 sponsored by Quayside Whitby. There will also be a superpool for the heaviest bag of fish and pairs. Fishing will take place between 10:00 and 16:00 hrs on Sunday 19th May.

Festival Music

Festival Music

Enjoy over 40 hours of free, live maritime music, including top-tapping sea shanties and soulful sailor’s ballads, with some of the UK’s top sea-singers and musicians performing throughout the town. Visitors will also get the chance to see the winner of the festival’s Song for the Sea competition on the main stage during Sunday afternoon’s finale gig. Dancing is highly encouraged!

Full programme here

Trawlers & Coble Boats

North Eastern Guardian

The Success 111 - will be landing fish live in Whitby.

North Eastern Guardian III - will be offering free tourst around the state-of-the-art patrol/research vessel.

Traditional Coble Boat refurbished on Endeavour Wharf.

Parkol Shipyard (Saturday pm only), Go behind the scenes at one of the UK’s most successful boat-builders. 

Other Activities

Emma Stothard

Sculptor Emma Stothard

Film Screening

Flotsam & Jetsam (Street Entertainment)

The Whale

Face Painting

Balloon Making

Walkabout Performers

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Free Entry to YO21, YO22, TS13 with proof of address (e.g. council tax bill). A great opportunity to come and enjoy the new facilities and interpretation on site after an investment of £1.6M Whitby Abbey. Take on the Ammonite quest as a family, learn about how the Headland changed over the centuries and how it inspired so many different artists.

The English Companions will also be present in the grounds to talk about everything Anglo-Saxon, from diet to ships and of course the Synod of Whitby.

Captain Cook Museum

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Special Exhibition - Fish on Ships! Saturday 11th – Sunday 26th May.

This exhibition takes a look at the colourful sketches of fish, made on the three Cook voyages and explores their significance and importance.

The exotic fish, many new and previously undescribed species, were recorded and drawn by naturalists on board the ships which circumnavigated the globe.

The sailors caught fish too, supplementing their rations and eating everything they could catch including turtle, shark and even poisonous fish on one occasion!

Endeavour Experience

HM Bark EndeavourOn board the Endeavour Experience discover just how disgusting ship’s food was, and find out about life at sea. Normal admission charges apply.

In conjunction with the Captain Cook Museum 10:00-17:00 Saturday and Sunday.

We will take a look at sailors’ rations, preserving food, pests on board ship, nutrition and the problem of scurvy. We will show some of the foods and recipes used by Captain Cook to try to combat scurvy and keep the crew healthy.

There will also be demonstrations of how to make real ships biscuits and kids will also have the chance to decorate and eat their own ship’s biscuit!

Whitby Library

Virpi Kettu

Sat 18 May

10am – 12 noon & 1- 3pm -Virpi Kettu Children animation workshops and filming -30 minute drop in sessions.

10-10.30am – Sea shanties performed by the Airy Hill school choir

1-3pm – From Tees T’Bay - musical journey and performance with audience interaction

Sat 19 May

10 – 12 noon & 1-3pm - Family felt making workshops with Serena Partridge – fish and chips plates made of felt.

12 noon – 2pm – A song for Whitby and the sea - Folk song competition.

2-3pm – Fred’s Fishy Tales – talk by local fisherman Fred Normandale

Pannett Art Gallery


Post Digital Knit, an installation by Dr Elizabeth Gaston and Dr Jane Scott, will be displayed at Pannett Art Gallery, 4 May – 12 June 2019. The exhibition includes designs exploring the art and science of knitting.

Join Dr Liz Gaston on Saturday 18 May for a drop in workshop, inspired by the fishing nets used in the fishing industry and focussing on sustainability. Participants will be introduced to a large scale, hand loop construction process, learning this family friendly technique then contributing to the creation of a rapidly growing, large scale, temporary structure.

Whitby Museum


Calling Lego engineers and budding shipbuilders! Create a maritime masterpiece in Whitby’s Lego Shipbuilding Competition on 18th May (1-4pm) at Whitby Museum.

Discover more about the amazing lady – Dora Walker. During the Fish & Ships Festival Whitby Museum will have a special exhibition in the Normanby Room dedicated to her and her remarkable achievements.

Whitby Fishing Boat
The Magpie Cafe
Sea Shanties on the Endeavour