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Sea shanties and clog dancing at the Brixham Pirate Festival

The first of two great festivals celebrated in Brixham in May, The Brixham Pirate Festival is a three-day event of pirate-themed fun on the harbour.
Get down to the Brixham Pirate Festival for some swashbuckling fun on the early May Day Bank Holiday. It’s a great excuse to dress-up as a pirate and enjoy historic re-enactments, sword fights and sea shanties as part of this cultural festival.

Celebrate Brixham’s local history and heritage

Started in 2010, the Brixham Pirate and Sea Shanty Festival quickly became an annual event. From rock music to sea shanties and Punch and Judy shows to clog dancing, there is plenty to keep all ages well entertained as celebrates its maritime history!

The historic town is known for its quaint inner and outer harbour and its narrow winding streets. It’s practically impossible to drive through, so make use of the park and ride amenities at the top of the town to avoid getting completely lost in the maze of one-way streets.

Brixham Pirate Festival activities

During the Brixham Pirate Festival the whole town is full of colourful characters. Most locals dress up in full pirate regalia – a black pirate’s hat or bandana, a colourful pirate shirt or blouse, pirate trousers or skirt and the all-important accessories of an eye patch, telescope and parrot. There are prizes for the best dressed pirates as an added incentive.

The streets fill up with all sorts of entertainment including sea shanty and folk music competitions. Magicians, clowns and puppet shows put a smile on the thousands of young faces, and if that fails then let the face painters get to work. Follow the sound of lively music to find majorette display teams or school choirs performing local sea shanties with gusto. In the past I have seen Circus workshops and Soak the Pirate sideshows, but every year is different and better than the last.

In the evenings, the festival events tend to focus on the pubs and restaurants on Brixham’s waterfront. Take your pick from a variety of live music acts and enjoy supping real pirate ale, me hearties!

Pirate skirmishes and World Record attempt at the Brixham Pirate Festival

The replica is moored in the inner harbour and is the focal point of the Pirate Festival. Stand by for a Skirmish on the Golden Hind, one of several historic re-enactments put on by a variety of street theatres and entertainers attending this lively event.

There’s usually a record attempt during the Pirate Festival for you to be part of, so come dressed as a pirate and be ready for anything! Past records included the Guinness World Record for the Biggest Gathering of Pirates, the Biggest Pirate Conga Line and the Mile of Pirates. Who knows what the organisers will dream up next!

What I can guarantee is plenty of live music, loud muskets and cannon fire so best bring your earplugs too! A chance to support the local community is available at the various street stalls including the RNLI Charity Fair stand, a very worthwhile cause that is an integral part of every boating and fishing community.

Have you attended Brixham Pirate Festival? Did you dress up or take part in one of the World Record Breakers? We’d love you to add your personal experiences to our comments below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

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