A POPULAR seaside festival held for the past 30 years has been saved.

The future of the Harwich Sea Festival and Lifeboat Day was thrown into doubt last August after the town’s Rotary club announced it would no longer be able to host the summertime event.

But The Harwich Haven Authority has announced it has taken over the event and is set to give the festival a make-over.

Set to be held on Saturday, July 27, the newly-named Maritime Festival will be held on The Quay with the focus of the event to reflect both the town’s rich maritime history and its “vibrant creative community”.

The planned festival programme will see both sea and land based attractions, including live music and stalls.

Neil Glendinning, chief executive of the Harwich Haven Authority, said: “We have taken the decision to pick up the organisation of the Harwich Maritime Festival because it’s such an important part of the town’s annual calendar.

“The Rotary club has done a wonderful job over the past five years delivering the Sea Festival and we know that everyone in the town is keen that it continues.

“Obviously, we are also delighted to be working with the Harwich RNLI with whom we have a great relationship.”

The town’s iconic Ha’penny Pier will be centre stage at the festival, which is hoped to attract thousands of visitors from across Essex and Suffolk. It will also incorporate the RNLI’s National Lifeboat day.

Mr Glendinning added: “We have changed the name of the event to the Harwich Maritime Festival as we felt it better reflected the theme of the town. However, lots of the usual attractions will be included in the programme, including the barges, RNLI demonstrations and the sailing races.

“The Maritime Festival is also a great boost for the town’s economy and with a healthy marketing budget in place we hope to attract visitors from far and wide.”

The Sea Festival started in 1988 by a man called Mike Seaney as a waterborne fundraising event for the RNLI and in 2000, it was taken on by the Harwich and Dovercourt Rotary Club.

From 2003 to 2006 the Sea Festival and Lifeboat Day was held on Harwich Green, but the quayside attractions pulled in the crowds, so in 2007 all the events moved to The Quay.

David Thurston, Harwich RNLI operations manager, said: “We are delighted to work with Harwich Haven Authority on the 2019 Maritime Festival.

“The festival is an opportunity for the Harwich RNLI to engage with the local community, they will be able to meet our dedicated volunteer crew and have a look on board our lifeboats.”