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All you need to know for the Hanse Festival

hanse festival

2:48pm 20th May 2017
(Updated 2:48pm 20th May 2017)

The 12th annual Hanse Festival will take place this weekend, complete with a fantastic firework display on Saturday evening thanks to the generosity of local businesses.

Two days of exciting events and activities have been organised to celebrate International Hanse Day.  During the festival, there will be a rare chance to see inside the incomparable Elizabethan tower at Clifton House. The owners of this historic merchant’s house are opening the tower especially for the festival. A small fee is payable.

Hanse Walks will explore the fascinating history of King’s Lynn’s links with the Hanseatic ports. The walks will be led by Kings’ Lynn Town Guides, and will be an hour-long tour of the town’s key Hanseatic buildings. The walks are free to attend but must be pre-booked through the Tourist Information Centre. Both walks take place on Saturday 20th May.

The History and Archaeology Symposium comprises a lecture and a book launch at Marriott's Warehouse. The Lecture by Robert Kenny shines a light on medieval ships and trade and in particular tells the fascinating story of the Newport ship. Tickets are £3 and must be booked from True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum. After the lecture Cllr Nick Daubney will be launching a new book 'Six Essays in Hanseatic History'. The book, published by Poppyland, is based on talks given by historians at previous Hanse Festivals.

Hanse Musik, an hour-long concert celebrating King's Lynn's Hanseatic, nautical and fishing heritage, takes place in All Saints Church at 5pm on 20 May.

On Saturday at 5pm, the focus of the festival moves to King’s Staithe Square, where an evening of live music begins. A line-up of international acts will perform until 10.00pm including Agitato, Georgia Shackleton Trio, Victor Menace and Trad.Attack.  The grand finale will be a fabulous firework display, funded by local businesses. 

On the second day of the festival, Sunday 21 May the programme of events is even more extensive. There will be fun activities for children at the town hall. Children can make a cardboard Hanse ship (cog) with local Artist Emma Jarvis. Meet a medieval trader’s wife, and find out what was being traded from where, in the time of the Hanse. They will also be able to make a medieval circle braid to take home.

Anyone paying to visit Stories of Lynn will also be able to take advantage of a special Hanseatic tour and view a new Hanse exhibition and film.

The ever-popular medieval dancing in the Stone Hall at the town hall will return – delighting audiences and getting everyone tapping their toes.

Live music will take place on Sunday in King’s Staithe Square from 1pm to 6pm. Local band the Fried Pirates will be first up, followed by Remi Harris Trio, Ruth Theodore and Band and Flats and Sharps.

On both days visitors will be able to enjoy the medieval market, Newport Ship exhibition and skiff display in King's Staith Square with a side serving of bbq, cake, coffee and other refreshments.

Councillor Elizabeth Nockolds, Deputy Leader and Borough Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage and Health, said:

"This is the first in a series of events organised by the borough council to encourage more people to come into the town.  Over the two days there really is something for everyone, and I would urge people to come and see for themselves everything that is going on and learn a bit about the town's hanseatic heritage."

Councillor Nick Daubney, English Commissioner for the Hanseatic League, said:

“Since we began holding a Hanse Festival, it has drawn attention to King's Lynn's rich Hanseatic heritage, and celebrated our links with the modern league. Historically the waterfront has been crucial to Lynn's trade and the festival gets people into the area, to reflect on its past and think about its future. I hope this year, that many of our colleagues and acquaintances from the Hanse, who live here, will come and join the celebrations with us. Crucially we have been, and are, able to use our strong Hanseatic links to build effective business networks."

Honorary Alderman and Local Historian Dr Paul Richards said:

“The Hanse Festival celebrates Lynn's maritime heritage and how it is alive today inspiring us to make the most of our exceptional port town for the future.”

For more details on the times and locations of all the events, visit

Road closure details

South Quay will be closed from 3pm until midnight on Saturday 20 May and from 11am until 7pm on Sunday 21st May.