Sheerness is gearing up for its first week-long Sea Festival with carnival, mermaids and historic tours

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Faversham has its Hop Festival and Rochester celebrates Charles Dickens. Today, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey is hosting its first Sea Festival.

The week-long event, which kicks off tomorrow night (Saturday), will feature a sea king and queen contest, swimming with mermaids, free music in the city center and the return of the Carnival of Sheppey.

Sheerness-on-Sea beach mural painted by Richard Jeferies

It was set up by volunteers from the Sheerness Town team. Chairman Phil Crowder said: “Over the years Sheppey has been known for its Zulus, Donkey Derby and the Walking The Plank World Championships.

“But there’s never been a sea party before, until now.

“It seemed incredible to me that, despite being an island surrounded by water, no one had thought of doing something like this before.”

He added: “This year is really a pilot. We are deliberately starting small in hopes that it will grow into something bigger and better every year.”

The party starts tomorrow (Saturday) with the annual Sunset Seaside Stroll disguise for Cancer Research UK.

Phil Crowder, Sheerness Town team chairman
Phil Crowder, Sheerness Town team chairman

Walkers will assemble outside Little Oyster on The Leas in Minster at 8pm – 20 minutes before sunset – then stroll along the coast to Queenborough. Reservation is £10.

A King and Queen of the Sea pageant is being held at the Sheerness site of the Oasis Academy at Marine Parade on Sunday starting at 16h. Entry forms come from the Small Boutique of This and That. Organizer Samantha Edgar said: “We had a lot of interest from women and girls in our Under 16 and Over 16 categories, but strangely no entries from men or boys. has not yet been recorded.”

A series of 20 photo boards of funny faces painted by Sheppey artist Richard Jeferies will be revealed on Monday at Beachfield Gardens between the Healthy Living Center and the pool from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuesday will highlight the history of Sheppey with a three-museum tour starting at the Rose Street Cottage of Curiosities in Sheerness at 9.45am, moving to the Eastchurch Aviation Museum and ending at the Blue Town Heritage Center for cream teas. Tickets are limited to 16. They cost £9.50 (under 16s £7.50) on 01795 662981 and include entry to all museums and mini bus travel.

Martin and Rosemary Hawkins from the Eastchurch Aviation Museum will be at the Sheppey Little Theater in Meyrick Road, Sheerness, at 7.30pm that evening to talk about the Royal Naval Air Service’s early days on Sheppey. Tickets are £4 at the door.

Sheppey artist Richard Jeferies prepared funny face boards for the first Sheerness Festival of the Sea
Sheppey artist Richard Jeferies prepared funny face boards for the first Sheerness Festival of the Sea

The action moves to Sheerness seafront on Wednesday for free rock pooling and clay art sessions at the RNLI Lifeguard Hut from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with Seashells Children’s Center, followed by a “Mass Trash Pickup” from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. five places. Poetry readings on the theme of the sea will take place at the bistro Rumour at 7 p.m.

On Thursday there’s a chance for 30 youngsters to “swim with a mermaid” at Sheerness Pool between 10am and 2pm. There will be three one-hour sessions allowing 10 people at a time to swim with a “real” mermaid. Children must be at least six years old and able to swim one length of the pool unaided.

They will be equipped with special “tails”.

Mr Crowder said: “Reservations are proving very popular. We also have room for a few newts. Some of them might prefer to pose as sharks instead.”

The free sessions were sponsored by Specsavers but places are limited.

Swim with a mermaid during the Sheerness Festival of the Sea
Swim with a mermaid during the Sheerness Festival of the Sea
The Bonnevilles will perform on Broadway on Free Music Friday as part of the first Sheerness Festival of the Sea
The Bonnevilles will perform on Broadway on Free Music Friday as part of the first Sheerness Festival of the Sea

The day coincides with the Sheppey Matters Big Bash from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Beachfield Gardens with face painting, bouncy castle, close-up magic and animal encounters. A fun Pirate and Mermaid Picnic takes place at the Criterion Theatre, Blue Town, at 1.30pm (tickets £6).

Free music is at Sheerness Broadway on FridayAugust 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the Jo Eden Project, The Bonnevilles Band and the Fiato Saxophone Ensemble performing original pieces inspired by Sheppey.

The week culminates with the return of the Sheppey Carnival on Saturday, August 20 at 4pm with at least five Carnival Queens, the 8th Sheppey Scouts, the Fire Brigade, Tim Bell with his moving replica of the Clock Tower and the popular Croydon Steel Band. The procession will depart from New Road.

Mr Crowder said: “Floaters and walkers are welcome to adopt any sea theme of their choice. Following public feedback, decorated mobility scooters, cars, trailers and small trucks are welcome. “

The parade will be followed by a Dutch funfair and free fireworks display on the waterfront near the sandpit.

Croydon Steel Band return to Sheppey Carnival
Croydon Steel Band return to Sheppey Carnival
Blast from the Past: Sheppey Carnival 2018
Blast from the Past: Sheppey Carnival 2018

There will be an indoor craft fair at the Holy Trinity Church Hall and free daily family film and craft events at the Salvation Army Hall on the High Street. To reserve a place call 07552 874375 or email here.

The Criterion Theater is hosting a Cockney Pie and Chips Supper (£25) from midday on Friday (01795 662981). Mark Allinson will give an illustrated talk on the Thames Raybel barge, which was built in Milton Creek 100 years ago, at the Sheppey Little Theater on Friday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £4 at the door.

For event details call Phil Crowder on 07969 480385 or email him here.

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