TWO major festivals which run in Harwich have been cancelled following government advice.

Organisers of the Harwich Festival and the Harwich Maritime Festival have announced “with great sadness” the two events will not run this year.

Peter Davis, artistic director of the Harwich Festival, said it has been an extremely difficult decision.

He said: “Our first priority has to be the health and well-being of our audience, artists, volunteers, staff and everyone who is involved with the Harwich Festival.

“Following the Government’s advice to avoid unnecessary gatherings and to protect the vulnerable people in our community with social distancing, this has now become an unavoidable reality.

“We thank you for your understanding and continued support of the festival.

“We will of course be back once the situation has improved, so please keep an eye on our website and social media for updates, future events and news on the next festival in due course.

“Please take care of yourselves and we look forward to seeing you soon.”

The decision came after the trustees considered the consequences a last-minute cancellation would have for the Harwich Festival as a non-profit organisation.

This year’s maritime festival was due to take place on August 8.

But the organisers have taken the decision to cancel the spectacle until 2021.

A spokesman said: “It is not a decision we have taken lightly as the event was part of the national Mayflower 2020 celebrations and an occasion many visitors and local residents look forward to each year.

“However, at this very uncertain time we believe that postponing the event is the best course of action.

“Many of our partners, suppliers, traders and members of the local community have already put lots of hard work into organising this year’s event and we extend our heartfelt thanks to them all.”

“We hope to be able to welcome everyone back to the festival in 2021.”

Other big events which have been cancelled in the Harwich area due to the coronavirus crisis include the Harwich Half Marathon and the Corbeau Seats Motor Rally.

The Harwich Society has also had to close its tourist attractions to the public and cancel its quiz nights and meetings.