The last International Hanse Day festival took place in King’s Lynn on 11th and 12th May 2019, the two-day event celebrating the town’s membership with the New Hanse League.
The annual festival, which returned for the 11th time in 2019, celebrated the town’s past and current membership of the Hanseatic League.
42F (King’s Lynn) Squadron Air Cadets led with a colourful parade to start the 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, 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 much more information please visit the official King’s Lynn Hanse Festival website.
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 International Hanse Day will be part of a superb weekend for the town, celebrating the historic town’s international connections and rich maritime heritage.