The installation of a specially-commissioned sculpture by renowned Yorkshire sculptor Emma Stothard marks the final countdown to Whitby’s new seaside spectacular this weekend, 18-19 May.
The free two-day festival celebrates everything that’s special about the Yorkshire Coast’s magnificent maritime culture, including its heroic fishermen - and women.
Emma’s new work A Whitby Fisherlass is a life-size tribute to the women of Whitby’s fishing families, whose story may not be as well known.
Located on Tate Hill Pier, it is a thought-provoking reminder of Whitby’s seafaring way of life in the early 1900s.
“As a local lass myself, it’s impossible not to be fascinated by the fisher lasses - and overawed by the back-breaking work they did alongside the men to support local industry,” said Emma.
“I grew up on the Yorkshire Coast and I’ve never lost my childhood wonder for this very special place and its magnificent countryside inspires my work today.
“It’s wonderful that Whitby is coming together for the Fish & Ships Festival and showcasing how its great sea-faring heritage is inspiring local people today.”
With less than 48 hours to go before the start of Fish & Ships, festival visitors can look forward to plenty of free, top-notch entertainment, including 40 hours of live music, madcap street theatre, inspired artworks, a grand pier-side firework display, fantastic food and family fun.
Festival organiser Janet Deacon, Tourism and Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome To Yorkshire, said: “It’s a great time to be casting a spotlight on Whitby as one of the UK’s top fishing towns and seafood destinations.”
Visitors will be able to explore Whitby’s fishing life first-hand, not just tasting seafood, but finding out from local experts how to catch, fillet and dress a huge variety of locally-caught seafood - and even seeing how a local 24-metre fishing trawler is built at Parkol Marine Engineering.
During the weekend, celebrity chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli and Brian Turner CBE will join local food heroes in the festival kitchen to demonstrate how to make the most of Whitby’s sensational seafood bounty, while Whitby’s finest fish restaurants and family-run fishmongers have come up with more than 50 different ways to showcase the quality and diversity of Yorkshire’s locally caught seafood in a new Seafood Trail.
Alongside sensational seafood cooking and demos, Fish & Ships will host what is set to be one of Britain’s largest gatherings of maritime musicians this year.
A stellar crew of some of the world’s leading shanty-singers, balladeers, folk instrumentalists and songwriters perform, non-stop from morning to night, in a tribute to Whitby’s maritime culture.
Family entertainment includes drop-in workshops to make aqua-world movies Wallace & Gromit’ style with Aardman animator Virpi Kettu in Whitby Library on Saturday (10am–12pm and 1-3pm), while local artist Serena Partridge will show visitors how to cook up a felted fish supper and how to sail the seas in flip-book animation sessions on Sunday, also in Whitby library.
It’s all hands on deck in Whitby’s Art Gallery, as visitors help to create a giant knitted maritime masterpiece, with artists Dr Elizabeth Gaston and Dr Jane Scott.
Elsewhere, visitors who dare to walk into the jaws of a whale will be surprised to discover their own personal story-telling submarine, with thrilling tales of life at sea sung by submariner, Jonah.