Falmouth’s Sea Shanty Festival – ‘the largest free nautical music and song festival in Europe,’ they say – is back this weekend (14-16 June 2024). It’s probably got even larger since we made this short film for the Guardian in 2011 – around the time that Cornish singers The Fisherman’s Friends were hitting the big time with a round of salty old sea shanties, mostly dredged from a playlist of maritime folk songs, born on merchant vessels of the 19th century (the main focus of the Falmouth festival).

In 2021, Nathan Evans, a twenty-something postman from Scotland, sparked a ‘viral shanty craze’ (said the Guardian) with his rendition of sea-dog classic Wellerman posted on TikTok during the pandemic. Not sure the craze has quite endured, but Falmouth goes large on the shanty this weekend (try booking a room) with a packed programme of parades, pirates, pasties, foot-tapping pub singalongs and, no doubt, a few drunken sailors.

Among 80 or so singers doing their thing at the festival, are Barnacle Buoys, the Pirates of St Piran (featured in the film), Les Venues de Matelot (yep, they are French), Press Gang, Rum & Shrub, Cadgwith Singers, Captain Cat and the Sailors, The Sea Gals and (drum roll) the Fisherman’s Friends.

Check out the the website for info. 

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