People from far and wide are being invited to Harwich for a spectacular Illuminate Festival to kickstart a year of worldwide Mayflower 400 celebrations.

An annual event for several years now, this year’s Illuminate Festival taking place on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November will be much bigger and bolder than before in recognition of the date’s significance.

2020 is a year of celebration of the 400th anniversary of the sailing of The Mayflower to the New World, carrying the Pilgrims, a year which will be book-ended by Illuminate Festivals in November around Thanksgiving.

Historic Harwich has a strong link to The Mayflower as home to the ship, its master Captain Christopher Jones – whose house still stands in Kings Head Street – and some of its crew. For this reason Harwich is part of the Mayflower 400 Compact, an international group of destinations linked to the story.

Hosted by Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt, best known for hosting Radio Airshow and their regular hosting of BBC Essex programmes, Illuminate Festival will include some incredible live entertainment with some unique acts, as well as immersive projections right across Harwich Quay and a sound and light show. Central to the festival will be the Illuminate Parade on Friday, with crowds gathering from 5pm to assemble before the procession through the old town at 5.45pm.

Saturday will have a more relaxed, festival feel with music hosted by Steve and Ian from 3pm, before the event kicks off with a bang at 4.15pm with a fireworks flight from the Fireflies – a firm favourite in the Clacton Airshow twilight display. Both nights will conclude at around 10pm.

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