AN eclectic line-up of events to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship’s journey to America is scheduled for the year ahead.

Tendring Council has released an exciting list of Mayflower-themed events and attractions which will be taking place throughout 2020 to celebrate the historic voyage the Pilgrim Fathers took in September 1620.

Harwich has a strong link to the Mayflower, as home of the ship and its captain, Christopher Jones, whose house still stands in King’s Head Street.

And tonight marks the start of a year of worldwide Mayflower festivities.

Harwich Illuminate Festival is being held tonight and tomorrow to mark the town’s launch of the celebratory year.

For the event, Harwich Quay will be transformed into a Mayflower-themed festival of light, projections, dancers and drummers.

Garry Calver, Harwich town councillor, said: “Harwich has always understood the major significance of the Mayflower but our problem has been selling this further afield, this anniversary celebrates the origins of democracy in America and has at last allowed the full focus of Harwich’s part of the journey to be seen in America.

“A large number of American tour companies are now selling Mayflower package tours with Harwich as part of the itinerary which will open Harwich up to the ongoing American tourist market. The potential is enormous.”

“In the same way that in 2004 we linked all of the year’s local events to Charter 400, 2020 offers a marvellous opportunity to sell all of our wonderful local events through the brand of Mayflower 400.”

As part of the celebrations, Captain Jones’ house, a Mayflower Museum and Harwich’s Mayflower Trail will open.

Mayflower Half Marathon will make a return after 28 years on April 5 and the Corbeau Seats Car Rally will take place between April 25 and 26.

The Harwich Ale Trail - with a Mayflower twist - will run between April 30 and May 4.

Residents will see the appointment of a new mayor for Harwich on May 21.

The Harwich Festival of the Arts will return between June 25 and July 25 with the theme of the ship embedded into the programme.

On July 4, Harwich and the surrounding area will be filled with painted octopus sculptures as part of an art trail.

Harwich Secret Gardens will also return between July 11 and July 12.

On August 8 Harwich Quay will be lined with dozens of stalls for the Harwich Maritime Festival.

Spectators will see the arrivals of hundreds of bikers during the Motorcycle Run and Harwich Family Fun Day on September 13.

Harwich Shanty Festival is back for another year between October 8 and October 11, and Harwich’s Guy Carnival is on October 24.

Sausage slingers can look forward to Harwich Sausage Festival on November 7, ale lovers can head to the Harwich and Parkeston Winter Ale Festival between November 25 and November 28, and next year’s Illuminate Festival is running between November 27 and 28.

The year will end with a spectacular New Years Eve firework display at Harwich Quay on December 31, 2020.