BEER fans are looking forward to the return of a highly anticipated real ale festival.

Plans are well under way for the Harwich Ale Trail, which has become an annual feature in the Harwich calendar.

So far nine venues have have confirmed their participation in the 2019 event.

The trail is running from Thursday, May 2 until Monday, May 6.

Each venue on the trail is no more than a minute’s walk from the next.

Many of the pubs and bars are planning live music, including hearty shanties to celebrate the town’s ties to the sea.

The venues include, Cafe on the Pier, Alma Inn, Pier Hotel, Globe Inn, Swan Inn, New Bell Inn, Hanover Inn, Crown Post, and Stingray.

But organisers are still waiting to hear back from a couple more venues.

A spokesman for the trail said:”Expect more beers than last year, more craft keg, more cider.

“We also have the Tendring Campaign for Real Ale pub of the year and cider pub of the year in the same town for the first time.

He added: “On behalf of the publicans and venue owners, we’d like to thank everyone who tried to drink Harwich dry last year.

“More than 4,000 pints were downed over the five days of the ale trail.”

“We’ll do it again next year.”

The first event, held in December 2015, was organised as a last-minute replacement for the cancelled Harwich and Dovercourt Winter Ale Festival.

Organisers are hoping to make the event a permanent spring fixture, to fill a gap between the other much-loved festivals in the town.

For more information about the festival and to keep updates on the venues involved visit the Harwich Ale Trail Facebook page.