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PREVIEW: Sea Ilfracombe Maritime Festival

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 31, 2012

Tom and Barbara Brown will entertain audiences with their Short Sharp Shanties, part of the musical entertainment every day in the harbour and seafront areas

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This weekend it will seem as if the whole of Ilfracombe has put on a party.

Everyone gets involved in the Sea Ilfracombe Maritime Festival, which celebrates the culture and the environment of this Bristol Channel resort.

More than a hundred events take place on land and sea, from today until Tuesday.

It kicks off, or rather, sails off at 7.30pm tonight with an event on board the MV Oldenburg which offers an eclectic mix of stories, tales, poetry and songs from the days of steam and sail.

Tomorrow night the fun continues with a Below the Decks concert headlined by Hughie Jones, formerly of The Spinners.

If you don't have sea legs, don't worry. Below the Decks will actually be at the Landmark Theatre.

Local singers Tom and Barbara Brown take West Country songs all over the British Isles, and their maritime repertoire to festivals of the sea all around the English coast.

Recently they have been researching the life and songs of the Watchet shantyman "Yankee Jack" Short, and will be presenting their Short Sharp Shanties throughout the weekend at the festival, part of the musical entertainment every day in the harbour and seafront areas.

Also keep an eye out for Monkey's Fist – four men from that well-known seaport town – Leeds! Specialists in maritime songs, shanties and ballads, they take their name from a rope knot used on board the old sailing ships.

Their sense of fun and enjoyment, with a strong thread of audience participation, is evident in every performance.

Also taking part are Bideford-based folk group Shake a Leg, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham and Malcolm Ward.

The long weekend of events isn't just about music.

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, it will be the last chance to see Nowhereisland in Devon.

This celebrated artwork from artist Alex Hartley is an island from the Arctic on a journey around the South West coast.

As it made this epic journey, it travelled through international waters, whereupon it became the world's newest nation with citizenship open to all.

Nowhereisland will pass the beaches and dramatic landscape of North Devon to moor off Lantern Hill.

At noon tomorrow there will be a welcome procession from the Landmark Theatre reaching the Nowhereisland Embassy at The Pier at 1pm.

All of Ilfracombe is taking part and you will be able to walk and eat your way around the town with historical guided tours as well as restaurant and gourmet trails. Marvel at a re-enactment of Napoleon Bonaparte's failed attempt to capture Ilfracombe, be enthralled with many street acts and relax at numerous art exhibitions.

If you feel a bit more energetic, try a gig-taster session with the Pilot Gig Club or join in the tug-of-war competitions; explore the coast on a cliff top walks or for the really fit have a go at the Sea Ilfracombe Triathlon, described as "the mother of all short courses".

This event will help raise funds for Help the Heroes and the Royal Marine Charity.

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