There’s plenty to keep you entertained when you visit this special area of the Essex coast. Whether you’re looking for a major event to celebrate everything Harwich, hoping to watch the latest film release or just want to enjoy a bit of relaxation, you’ll find something that’s just right for you.

Harwich Festival

The Harwich Festival presents an annual Festival (rated in top 10 by The Sunday Times) and also stages a wide range of concerts and events throughout the year; these include music, spoken word and visual art exhibitions.

A Community Hub is situated in the library in Kingsway where you can take part in a host of activities such as workshops and see how the local community works together to celebrate its uniqueness.


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Electric Palace Theatre

Historic Harwich is a lively and exciting place surrounded by wonderful history and heritage. No more is this apparent than in the Electric Palace Theatre/Cinema which is one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas in the country dating back to 1911. The cinema closed in 1956 after 45 years, interrupted only by the 1953 floods, and was listed as a building of sociological interest in September 1972. The now Grade II* listed building re-opened in 1981 and runs as a community cinema showing films every weekend and special live music events. This beautiful venue can also be booked for private functions such as weddings, birthday parties, society meetings, business seminars or as a film location. The Electric Palace is currently closed for refurbishment, due to reopen in 2020.

Discover the Electric Palace

Harwich International Shanty Festival

Now in its 16th year, Harwich International Shanty Festival has become the UKs Premier Shanty Festival, attracting Artists and audiences from around the world. The streets of the old town ring with the sound of  rousing shanties, with music and singing emanating from pubs, clubs and many of the towns historic landmarks. The rich maritime history of the old town makes Harwich the perfect place for this annual celebration of its relationship with the sea. Traditional shanties mix with colourful costumed actors, pirates and maritime craftspeople, all adding to the atmosphere.

There are shanty trains running between Manningtree and Harwich Town, regular trips onboard a traditional Thames Sailing Barge, walks, talks, workshops, concerts and open air entertainment, much of it free of charge. In 2022 the Festival takes place over the weekend of 7-9th October and offers a full three days of entertainment. A detailed programme plus tickets for all concerts are available at the end of August, meanwhile follow our Social Media channels and website: https://harwichshantyfestival.co.uk/

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House Parties at the Pier

If you are you looking for a unique place to hold a special party with friends and family, then the Pier at Harwich could be for you! The Angel has seven bedrooms and a large sitting room which lends itself perfectly to an all-inclusive house party for 14 guests

Whether it’s one, two or more nights, our entire staff and facilities will be dedicated to you and your guests, and the team will welcome you with afternoon tea on arrival, and a Champagne and canapé reception to make your stay extra-special.

The hotel can arrange ‘extras’ for your house party such as a gin masterclass in the NAVYÄRD bar, a visit to the Electric Palace Cinema, or book a half day sail with Viking Mariners on either a yacht or catermaran.

Discover the Pier

Old Bank Studios

Old Bank Studios specialise in one day workshops in: Art, Textiles and Crafts, concentrating on providing expert and professional tuition within this ambient setting. The glorious Edwardian banking hall accommodates an art studio, and a smaller textile studio. Each workshop is complemented with home a cooked lunch and refreshments.

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If you’ve only an hour to take in this charming town, then heading to the Ha’penny Pier is a must. Depending on the time of day you can see the fishermen haul in their catch, witness the sun going down on the coast or simply sit and watch the world go by.  As you walk down you’ll see the Lightvessel LV18 and the Harwich foot ferry on your way to coffee and cake at the Café on the Pier. There are certainly worse ways to spend an hour!

If you find yourself in this pleasant part of England’s east coast for a morning there are plenty of things to see and do. If you can wake at the crack of dawn it’s worth heading to the Ha’penny Pier to watch the day’s catch come in or perhaps try a spot of crabbing. The Lightvessel LV18 is moored here, which was used in the 60s and 70s for illegal off shore pirate Radio, and now home to a fantastic little museum which is well worth a visit.

From here it is a stone’s throw to the magnificent Pier hotel, where you can enjoy coffee or brunch in lovely surroundings.

If beaches are what you’re after, a visit to Dovercourt Bay is essential for its golden sand and panoramic views over the North Sea and Felixstowe Point. Here you can see the High and Low lighthouses which were in use until 1917.

Pop into cosy pub, the Alma Inn, after a bracing beach walk for traditional ales and a freshly caught lobster lunch.

The Redoubt Fort is a hidden gem, and Harwich’s must-see attraction. Allocate an afternoon to look round the battlements and unusual exhibits. Battle re-enactments, ghost hunts and beer festivals are held here throughout the summer months, so check the calendar to plan your visit.

There are many great accommodation options if you are looking to spend a weekend in Harwich, and plenty of activities to choose from while you are there!

Make sure to stock up on provisions for your stay at The White Coffee House, or drop into the Harwich Town Brewing Co. for a tour and some locally brewed ale (pre-booking is a must).

Seal watching tours depart for Hamford Water from The Quay on Ha’penny Pier, and are the only way to see and appreciate the creatures in their natural environment. This is a great trip for photography and wildlife enthusiasts, and is great fun for the whole family. When you return to the pier it is well worth checking out the Lifeboat museum before lunch.

Head to the Electric Palace Theatre in the afternoon to see the latest blockbuster, indie film, or National Theatre Live Production, and soak up the atmosphere inside the cinema’s beautifully restored interior. (Unfortunately the Electric Palace is currently closed for refurbishment, due to reopen in 2020).

Finish up the evening with dinner and drinks at the NAVYÄRD Bar.

Before you leave Harwich, make sure to visit the carefully restored Redoubt Fort with its excellent sea views and its weaponry collections. Finish your visit with traditional English fish and chips nearby at Piseas Chippy!

Things to do in Harwich


Dovercourt Bay

Ha'penny Pier

Further Afield