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A man waving a hanseatic flag in front of King's Lynn Minster.

International Hanse Day

The annual festival, which returned for the 13th time in 2022 in a smaller scale, celebrates King’s Lynn’s past and current membership of the Hanseatic League.

The King’s Lynn Hanse Day 2022

The programme for the 2022 Hanse Day in King’s Lynn can still be downloaded, with printed copies of the programme having been distributed around the local area at the time – including from the King’s Lynn TIC at the Town Hall from early June 2022.

There was also a small scale return of the Hanse Day in September 2021, but the previous full-scale International Hanse Day festival took place in King’s Lynn on 11th and 12th May 2019.

This annual festival celebrates the town’s past and current membership of the Hanseatic League. An outline of the full programme of events from the two-day festival in 2019 is given below as an example of what a visitor can expect from the Hanse Festival experience.

42F (King’s Lynn) Squadron Air Cadets led with a colourful parade to start the 2019 event, which had set off from the Tuesday Market Place at 10:45am and headed down the High Street towards the historic Saturday Market Place and onto the quayside. People were asked to bring things to make some noise, giving kids some saucepans and spoons to bang together.

The ‘Parade of Flags’ showcased all of the Hanseatic countries. Supported by the Hanseatic Union, flag bearers from many countries headed through King’s Lynn town centre towards the quayside.

Music was playing, people representing Hanseatic nations waved flags and, thanks to Rachael Williams (the Learning and Engagement Officer from Stories of Lynn), children from local schools were getting involved with the festival parade again that year. They created a procession of walking boats that they also designed. Each of the boats had their sails raised and each sail featured merchant marks of the time.

Rachael also included the Sea Cadets in the activities – they were taught merchant shipmen skills – including balance beam work to make them steady on board ship when the weather is stormy, and walking the plank – in case the pirates that plagued the seas in those times forced them to do so. Other activities included knot tying and rope coiling.

At the Hanse Festival itself, children were able to try their hands at building small boats. Races took place to see which of these boats crossed the tank of water the fastest, powered only by the wind created by a fan.

The King’s Lynn Hanse Regatta took place over the Hanse Weekend, with races beginning at 10am on Saturday and noon on the Sunday. Organised by the King’s Lynn Coastal Rowing Club, the regatta featured boats from all over the country.

Popular events from previous festivals returned in 2019, including Discover Hanseatic Lynn walks and lectures at Marriott’s Warehouse. A training workshop for young Hanse sailors took place at the Hanse House on the South Quay. They had the opportunity to purchase stores for their journey. In the Minster churchyard there was a popular falconry display.

The King’s Lynn Town Guides led with the ‘Discover Hanseatic Lynn’ walks. Each walk was an hour-long tour of the town’s key Hanseatic buildings. Walks were free to attend but were booked at the Tourist Information Centre.

Music was provided on the main stage in King’s Staithe Square courtesy of the Pot of Gold Shantymen, The Shackleton Trio and Bear Club. Bear Club performed at Festival Too in 2018 and were so popular they were invited back for the Christmas Light Switch-on event.

For more information about the Hanse Festival, please visit the official King’s Lynn Hanse Festival website.

The Hanse Day flag in front of the Custom House in King's Lynn.
A group of performers playing traditional instruments and wearing traditional hanseatic outfits on Tuesday Market Place.
A woman dressed in a hanseatic dress and a man wearing knights armour riding horses down King's Lynn high street.
A man breathing fire outside of King's Lynn Minster.

The annual Hanse Day celebrations in King’s Lynn all began as we know it in 2009 when the Borough Council organised the town’s first ever Hanse Festival, and maritime merriment was had by all. During the festival weekend visitors enjoyed the sound of sea shanties and songs of the sea along the quayside, street theatre, an al-fresco food fair, heritage walk and much more maritime merriment. The majestic Lisa von Lubeck, a 15th Century caravel reconstruction, cruised up the River Great Ouse from its port in Lubeck, Germany to greet the crowds on the King’s Lynn quayside.

As seen in the above video, for 2014 the International Hanse Day in King’s Lynn was a massive three-day celebration, with people being entertained by a rich and colourful selection of dance, music, activities for all the family and food & craft markets, culminating with the headlining internationally-renowned classical choral ensemble The Mediaeval Baebes.

Building upon all previous celebrations, This year’s Hanse Day will be a fantastic day for the town, celebrating the historic town’s international connections and rich maritime heritage.

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