Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

Whitby Fish and Ships Festival, 2021

15 May 2021 - 16 May 2021

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The North Yorkshire town of Whitby is famed for its fabulous fish and chips, that and a nautical traditional that includes Captain Cook. So, why not combine the two together in the Whitby Fish and Ships Festival? That is exactly what’s happening this year over the weekend of 15 to 16 May, 2021, albeit virtually.

Taking place in this historic east coast Yorkshire town at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby offers a picturesque setting for a festival. With the magnificent edifice of Whitby Abbey, perched on its east cliff, dominating the buzzing, colourful medieval fishing port below, with its cobbled streets and excellent seafood restaurants, not to mention of its renowned fish and chips and award winning beaches what’s not to like?

Whitby: a Brief History

Whitby Harbour © Tony Bartholomew / Turnstone Media 07802 400651, [email protected]

Historically, Whitby emerged as a fishing port in medieval times, famed for its herring and whaling fleets. Captain Cook lived and worked in the town, learning his maritime skills there. Whitby was also mentioned in Dracula by Bram Stoker. With past centuries of workers developing Whitby’s maritime, mineral and tourist industries, the town is proud of the fact that much of its heritage is maintained today, with of course the addition of excellent shops, restaurants, pubs and places to stay.

Whitby Fish and Ships Festival 2021

So what does the Whitby Fish and Ships Festival have to offer the discerning visitor? For a start there is no entry charge and ample car parking provided. Festival organiser, June Deacon, aims that visitors will feel the centuries old atmosphere of the town with its boat building and its fishing industry. She also hopes that festival goers will eat in the award winning seafood restaurants with their sustainably caught fresh fish.

When walking through the medieval town centre during the festival weekend, you will experience live music and street theatre. Celebrity chefs, including renowned French chef Jean Christophe Novelli of Hell’s Kitchen and Celebrity Chef, and British chef Brian Turner, known for Ready, Steady Chef and appearances on Saturday Kitchen will demonstrate their skills in various cookery demonstrations.

Whitby’s Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions

In addition to the obvious culinary delights on display, talks, exhibitions and film screenings will take place all over the town, with Captain Cook’s Memorial Museum in Walker’s House where Cook was apprenticed to Captain John Walker in 1746, well worth a visit. The museum is now dedicated to Cook’s life and to the scientists and sailors who sailed with him. The museum contains many interesting original letters and other artefacts. HMS Bark Endeavour is another important site as it was the first ship in which, in 1764, Cook sailed to Australia and New Zealand. The Pannett Art Gallery and Park provides an opportunity to see some interesting exhibitions and to wander around the tranquil gardens.

Other events on view include an opportunity to walk through the mouth of a giant whale, street theatre by Walking Boats Flotsome and Jetsome, the sculpture trail by local sculptor Emma Studhard, and a display by local fishermen who will show how to fillet fish and dress crab. For the children, there will be a craft stall where they can take part in a competition to build fish and ships in Lego, and an animation workshop run by Virpi Kettu of Wallace and Gromit fame.

Whitby Fish and Ships Festival
Whitby Abbey at distance

To light up the festival, there will be a firework display on the pier.

Intrigued by Whitby, read Mark Bibby Jackson’s Whitby and the North York Moors.

When is the Whitby Fish and Ships Festival

15 to 16 May, 2021. The 2021 festival was cancelled due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 fectival will be virtual.

Getting to Whitby

Whitby lies on the A 171 running from Scarborough to Guisborough. For a more scenic alternative cross the North York Moors National Park from Pickering. By rail Northern Rail runs trains to Whitby or you could travel on The North Yorkshire Moors Railway through the mind blowing scenery of the heart of Yorkshire. Truly Gods Own Country. If flying, Leeds Airport is the neared point for arrival.

Accommodation in Whitby

If you are looking for accommodation in Whitby, try our Flights and Hotels Booking Portal, which compares prices from all the major booking sites and airline.

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Further information on the Whitby Fish and Ships Festival

You can get further information on The Whitby Fish and Ships Festival on line from its website.

Things to Do in Whitby

For further ideas on what to do in Whitby, click here. Cover photo, © Tony Bartholomew / Turnstone Media 07802 400651.


15 May 2021
16 May 2021


Whitby,United Kingdom+ Google Map

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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