CENTURIES of seafaring tradition were celebrated at the fourth annual Harwich Sea Shanty Festival.

Thousands of festival-goers enjoyed performances by around 70 acts in pubs, boats or anywhere they could set up shop.

The weekend had a low key start with performances at the New Bell Inn and a concert at Harwich Sailing Club.

The festival picked up again on Saturday lunchtime as a host of acts pitched up on the Ha’Penny Pier or boats off it to perform, watched by audiences enjoying a plate of fish.

And Sunday offered more of the same until the evening.

Other highlights included a screening of Mayday Tugs of War, and a film about rescue tug boats which operated in secret during the Second World War.

Elsewhere, performances could be found at venues including the Redoubt Fort, the Samuel Pepys Wine Bar, the Globe and the Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club.

Volunteers also brought their own boats, which offered a backdrop to the action as well as venues for the performers.

Organiser, Jon Fitzgerald, said Harwich had been a Navy base for hundreds of years and the festival aimed to celebrate that history.

He said: “It went swimmingly “There’s no aim apart from having jolly good fun and promoting our sea shanty tradition.

“It’s a bit of an underground movement, the shanty festival.

“There are lots in Holland and on the continent generally.”

Performers came from all over the country, while Patrick Denaim and Miguel Biard made the trip over the Channel to represent France.

Mr Denaim said they were having a great time and had met a lot of friendly people.

“We came because this looked like a friendly festival,” he added.

Sea shanties were traditionally sung at sea by sailors who used the rhythm of the song to keep them working in time together.