GREAT Yarmouth is set to become a “hive of nautical activity” this weekend when the annual Maritime Festival sails into town.

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Featuring a line up of historic tall ships and heaps of entertainment along South Quay, excited organisers are promising a weekend of fun for all and “a riot of colour and sound”.

The weekend is a celebration of the town’s maritime past and future and will feature family activities, sailing trips and plenty of live music.

Ken Sims, chairman of Greater Yarmouth Tourism Authority, said: “We are looking forward to another busy Maritime Festival weekend packed with the sights and sounds of the sea. South Quay is going to be a hive of nautical activity from tall ships to sea shanties and maritime crafts and art.”

The festival opens tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm; activities and entertainment are free except for river trips, and a donation of £1 per visitor towards festival costs is welcomed.

Guests can meet Admiral Nelson, Mrs Hamilton, Lofty the Lighthouse and Horatio Herring and enjoy military re-enactments from East Norfolk Militia and Inner State, Punch and Iudy, face painting and balloon modelling.

And there will be opportunities to explore the tall ships Mercedes and Tres Hombres, see Collective Spirit - a 30ft sailing boat fashioned from hundreds of donated wooden objects - and enjoy a river cruise to the Outer Harbour on MV Coronia.

Coronia was built in Yarmouth and was originally called the BRIT after Britannia Pier. She started life doing seal trips, then in the second world war, Coronia rescued 900 troops from Dunkirk, before working at Scarborough as a pleasure cruiser.

Sailing trips are available on Saturday and Sunday, at 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm, adults £5, children £2.50 - tickets on sale at the festival.

Natural England has an underwater world, located next to a huge deckchair that can easily seat the entire family. People can have a go at making seahorse pencil toppers and starfish magnets.

At Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s stand, visitors can discover the weird and wonderful creatures that live in the sea and make herring kites and shark tooth necklaces from fossil teeth dating back millions of years.

The RSPB has three marquees packed with craft activities include making a butterfly, bird or whale and playing the migration game; there’s also a pin-badge lucky dip.

Have a go at net mending in the demonstrator’s marquee or create a medieval town wall with Norfolk Records Office.

There will also be special events and exhibitions in the town hall, which will be open from 10am to 4.30pm on both days.

In addition to viewing some of the public rooms, a more extensive tour can be pre-arranged by contacting mayoral and civic events officer Laura Goodman on 01493 846125.

A jazz trio will play on the Saturday between 10.45am and 11.30am, midday and 12.45pm, 1pm and 1.45pm, and finally between 2.30pm and 3.15pm.

On both days, Westwick Coffee Shop will be offering teas and coffees, with afternoon tea available in the refurbished and beautiful Assembly Room.

Great Yarmouth Model Boat Club will be displaying their boats in the Supper Room on both days, while outside, TS Warrior will have displays tomorrow.

Mayor Colleen Walker and the civic party will process from the town hall at 10am on Saturday for the opening ceremony of the festival, and again at 4pm on Sunday for the closing ceremony.

For more details visit www.maritime-festival.co.uk

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