Illuminate Festival returns to celebrate Historic Harwich

Friday, 18 February, 2022
Harwich Illuminate Festival Day 1 2019.

A spectacular twilight aerial display will get the 2022 Illuminate Festival off to a flying start in Historic Harwich.

The festival, a celebration of the town’s heritage – and in particular its links to The Mayflower ship which carried the first Pilgrims to America – will return this year after a break forced by Covid-19.

This year Illuminate will be held in March, instead of its usual calendar slot in November to tie in with Thanksgiving, to kick-start a packed events programme in Harwich, and Tendring.

Alex Porter, Tendring District Council (TDC) Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said the event was one not to be missed.

“Showcasing both the amazing heritage in Harwich, and its strong community spirit, Illuminate Festival is a must-see in the events calendar,” Councillor Porter said.

“After our forced absence due to Covid I am glad that the festival is returning to kick-start a year of fantastic events; with Illuminate’s lights, fun and festivities what better way to welcome in 2022.

“Our thanks go to the many and varied community partners helping us to put on this fantastic event.”

The event will run from 6pm until 9.30pm on Friday, 25 March.

More details will be released in the coming weeks, but visitors can expect the return of crowd favourites such as the Spark! drummers, flights, street entertainment and torchlight procession by the local community.

For the latest information on the Illuminate Festival people should visit the Historic Harwich website ( or Facebook page, or check out the LoveTendring tourism and events app, free to download on Apple and Android devices.

Illuminate Festivals have been held by destinations across the world linked by the Mayflower story. The theme is inspired by the words of William Bradford, a Mayflower passenger elected as the settlers’ first governor, who wrote “Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.”

Harwich was not only home to the Mayflower, which was registered at the port, but several of the crew were residents of the town including the ship’s master and co-owner Christopher Jones – whose house still stands in Kings Head Street.

Other notable Harwich residents on the voyage include the cooper John Alden – the first on-board to set foot on American soil, and whose descendants include Marilyn Monroe and Dick Van Dyke. In total 30 million people worldwide can trace their roots back to the 132 pilgrims and crew from the historic voyage.

Councillor Porter added: “Harwich’s links to The Mayflower are extraordinary, and tangible, and definitely to be both celebrated and enjoyed – whether by visiting Christopher Jones’ House, taking on The Mayflower Trail, or one of the many other excellent Mayflower activities in the town from the Harwich Society and others.”

The 2019 Harwich Illuminate Festival saw an estimated 6,000 visitors across two days of activities.



Last updated on: 18/02/2022 - 09:40