These quirky events are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of Essex; from sausage throwing to mud racing, we certainly know how to have a good time! Each one is totally worthy of a visit from afar. So don’t miss out, pencil in your diaries, and add to your bucket list!

Harwich International Shanty Festival

Harwich International Shanty Festival, 13-15 October 2023

Now in its 18th year, Harwich’s maritime old town comes alive with colour, music and song all weekend as shanty artists converge on the town to perform.

Grab a real ale from one of the many cosy pubs and join in with singing songs of the sea, listen to musicians along the Quay or take a barge trip along the river with on board entertainment from one of the many international groups who travel here to perform.

Not to mention shanty trains, pirates, street theatre and historical re-enactments. Learn how to Play the Bones, carve figureheads or how to smoke kippers! Along with a jam-packed programme of historical walks, talks and events. 

Most of the entertainment is free, as attractions such as Redoubt Fort open their doors for free, but there are also ticketed concerts, workshops, and barge trips you can pre-book with some of the best Shanty Singers around.

The artist line up will be online by the end of April and printed programmes will be available from end of July. Accommodation in the town gets full very quickly so be sure to book as soon as possible!

1hr 45 min from London to Harwich Town by direct train.

Maldon Mud Race

Maldon Mud Race – Sunday 2 June 2024

Come and watch this muddy spectacle! First started in 1973 as a one-man challenge, the 500m dash across the bed of the River Blackwater in Maldon has become a local tradition. Soak up the atmosphere with funfair, artisan food and drink stalls. Entry is free.

To enter, start thinking of an epic team name or go solo, crack out your best fancy dress and prepare to get covered from head to toe as you battle on the mud fields for the winning title in this charity race. From £45pp. Max 8 per team.

40 min direct train from London, 15 min drive from Hatfield Peverel train station.

Harwich Sausage Festival

Sausage Festival – Saturday 4 November 2023

Watch sausage throwing as grown men and women hurl seasoned pork as far as they can in this crazy competition! Following this fabulous frivolity, three fantastic inns in historic Harwich throw open their doors for the gathered masses to test the wares of the finest butchers of the Tendring Hundred and determine the public's favourite sausage, all washed down with real ales and ciders. It is free of charge to join in and coincides with #UKSausageWeek, celebrating the Great British Banger!

1hr 45 min from London to Harwich Town by direct train. 

Dunmow Flitch Trials

Dunmow Flitch Trials - Saturday 13 July 2024

Every 4 years a Judge and Jury of 6 beautiful maidens and bachelors from the parish of Dunmow, award a flitch of bacon to married couples (travelling from far and wide) who prove that in ‘twelvemonth and a day’ they have ‘not wish’t themselves unmarried again’. 

This local tradition dates to at least the 14th century when it was referenced to in Geoffrey Chaucer’s prologue to the Wife of Bath. Today, visitors can watch proceedings by purchasing timed tickets for this entertaining cross-examination of couples in the “dock”. Winning couples are paraded through the streets atop a ceremonial oak chair with their flitch of bacon before kneeling in the marketplace and swearing the Flitch Oath! Make a day of it and enjoy the adjoining fete. 

50 min direct train from London, 10 min drive from Stansted Airport train station.

Harwich Guy Carnival

Guy Carnival – Saturday 28 October 2023

Watch locals parade the streets of Harwich in “big heads”, crazy fancy dress and amazing floats as they poke fun at topical issues in a tradition known as guying.

Dating back 150 years when Royal Navy Yard apprentices would dress up carrying slogan jokes aimed at their bosses, floats in the past include a motorised settee! It is definitely an evening charity event not to be missed.

1hr 45 min from London to Harwich Town by direct train.

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