Big events to sail into Whitby for 250th Captain Cook anniversary

Captain Cook.
Captain Cook.

The 250th anniversary of the momentous first voyage of one of the world’s greatest explorers will be celebrated in Whitby in early July, kick starting a series of nationwide anniversary events.

James Cook learnt his trade as a seaman in Whitby and his famous vessel HM Bark Endeavour was built in town.

Now Whitby is preparing to push the boat out for the self-taught, son of a farm manager who grew up in the North York Moors National Park but made his name on the sea with ground-breaking achievements.

To mark 250 years since Cook set sail on his first voyage of discovery, a town-wide celebration, led by Scarborough Borough Council’s Tourism team will see a host of events take place throughout the weekend.

Janet Deacon, tourism manager for Scaorough Council said: “Whitby is still a place with an adventurous spirit where Cook would feel right at home and still has a strong boat building industry. Cook’s great feats as an explorer, navigator and cartographer deserve to be celebrated and there’s nowhere better than the Yorkshire Coast to discover more about Cook and his early life.”

Charles Forgan from the Captain Cook Memorial Museum added: “In celebrating this 250th anniversary, we are celebrating a Yorkshireman whose unrivalled skill, continued self-improvement, perseverance and quiet ambition are an example to all and to future generations.”

Giving a feel for life at sea in the 18th century, two tall ships will take pride of place in Whitby’s historic harbour especially for the festival and will be free to access.

Maritime adventurers can step back in time and climb aboard the Spanish hand-built tall ship Atyla to experience life at sea, and re-live the Battle of Trafalgar on the smallest ship in Nelson’s fleet, the replica warship topsail schooner, HMS Pickle. Visitors can also test their sea legs on board the Bark Endeavour Whitby, an authentic replica of Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour 40% of the ship’s original size, sailing from Whitby along the coast to nearby Sandsend.

Endeavour Wharf will become home to a live cooking theatre where local chefs will bring history to life, giving an 18th century twist to modern cuisine.

A new way to navigate and explore Whitby will be provided by the Cook ‘Tintamarresques Selfie’ tour, which will comprise a series of cut-out Cook characters. This tour is being created by Whitby Community College.

Additionally, throughout the weekend, visitors will be able to enjoy live music, street theatre and sea shanties alongside local ales and a grand finale firework spectacular Whitby Abbey and Pannett Art Gallery will also be exhibiting maritime artwork and memorabilia throughout the weekend.

Cllr Helen Mallory, Scarborough Borough Council Deputy Leader says: “The council is proud to be supporting the Captain Cook Festival and working with different community groups to make the event a fitting celebration of Cook’s endeavours and his enduring impact on Whitby. It’s shaping up to be an unmissable weekend for all the family and a fantastic addition to this year’s Yorkshire Coast event calendar.”

It will take place on the weekend of July 6 to 8.