14th - 16th June 2019

International Sea Shanty Festival 2019

The town will play host to hours of free-to-attend shanty performances, with only the special Gala Concert ticketed, and proceeds going to the RNLI. Falmouth will be alive with music, singing and community spirit.

The origins of the traditional Sailors’ Sea Shanty have been lost in the midst of time. Traceable from at least the mid-1400s, the shanty hails from the days of the old merchant ‘tall’ sailing ships.

The shanty was quite simply a working song that ensured sailors involved in heavy manual tasks, such as tramping round the capstan or hoisting the sails for departure, synchronised individual efforts to efficiently execute their collective task, i.e. simply making sure that each sailor pushed or pulled, at precisely the same time.

The key to making this happen was to sing each song, or shanty, in rhythm. More often than not there would be a solo-singer, a shantyman, who would lead the singing of the songs with the crew joining in for the chorus. 

This year we have 62 groups from all over the UK as well as from Brittany, Holland and Ireland who will each perform their unique take on sea songs and shanties from over 20 very different venues throughout the town. From cosy pubs to professionally engineered main stages, street corners to parish churches we have them all!

Falmouth has a proud and very long history as a first safe port of call for deep-water sailing ships with their weary crews often having been at sea for many months. It was here that they filled our waterside alehouses with their songs and yarns and it is here that those shanties and stories are kept alive to this day. Many of the pubs and clubs that refreshed those Cape Horners and Clippermen remain. If you listen very carefully as you walk along our seventeenth-century quays you can still hear them singing!

Learn more about Sea Shanty heritage from Ben Johnson at Historic UK

Join us and celebrate this must see maritime calendar event. Find out more Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival

Photography courtesy of Visit Cornwall.