Maritime England

With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the restoration of the Cutty Sark in London and a new Mary Rose museum opening in Portsmouth, 2012 is shaping up to be the year to mark England’s maritime history. In anticipation of James Cameron’s Academy Award winning blockbuster Titanic relaunching in 3D and hitting theatres on April 4, 2012, eleven days before the anniversary of the April 15, 1912 sinking, VisitEngland takes a look at other nautical stories that are set to make a big splash.

Titanic Centaury, Nationwide

Various dates

Revisit the haunting tale of the world’s most famous shipwreck in a series of exhibitions held throughout the country. London’s National Maritime Museum will lead visitors through the accounts of some of the survivors, while Liverpool’s Merseyside Museum will explore the city’s extensive links with the ship, its crew and passengers. Southampton, where the Titanic sailed from, will welcome a brand new SeaCity Museum opening in 2012, which will look at the world’s fascination with the Titanic story. Stoke-On-Trent’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will host a number of events, from guided tours through its Titanic exhibitions and atmospheric audio visual presentations, to commemorative concerts. Liverpool too will mark the centenary of Titanic’s sinking with an extensive and thought-provoking programme of events and exhibitions, including the epic Sea Odyssey – a street parade phenomenon that will see a 30ft ‘giant little girl’ tour the city over three days in April, taking the country on an unforgettable fairy-tale and emotional journey of love, loss and reunion.

Cutty Sark, London

Relaunches April 20, 2012

Climb onto the Cutty Sark and into the 142 year story of the last tea clipper in the world. The ship’s wooden hull and broad sails have carried her through the world’s oceans, and visitors can step into the history of those voyages, the ship’s construction, and its careful conservation since it finally came to rest in London’s Greenwich. Visitors will learn about the story behind her name among many other maritime secrets. The Cutty Sark re-opens to the public in April following an extensive restoration project.

Diamond Jubilee River Pageant & Gun Salute, The River Thames, London

June 3, 2012

At high water on the afternoon of Sunday June 3, 2012, up to a thousand boats will muster on the River Thames in preparation for Her Majesty the Queen to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled with vessels of all shapes and sizes, beautifully dressed with streamers and Union Jack flags, their crews and passengers turned out in their finest rigs. The flotilla will be bolstered with passenger boats carrying up to 30,000 flag-waving members of the public placed centre stage (mid-river) in this floating celebration of Her Majesty’s 60 year reign, magnificently bringing the Thames to life with clanging bells, tooting horns and sounding whistles, recalling both its royal heritage and its heyday as a working, bustling river.

Art on Sea, Nationwide

Various dates

Offering extensive art and culture on the beach, England has a hip and happening collection of seaside towns that showcase more than the occasional sand sculpture or flower bed display. The Jerwood Gallery, gleaming on Rock-A-Nore Road amongst Hastings Old Town’s wooden fishing huts is the newest edition to the seaside art scene. Jerwood Gallery in East Sussex opened on March 17, 2012, and is now the permanent home for the Jerwood Collection. Also further along the East Sussex coast is the De La Warr Pavilion, another contemporary art gallery within Battle of Hastings 1066 Country. Oozing modernist elegance with its curved balconies and swish spiral staircases, De La Warr makes the most of its assets – both inside and out. Crossing the border into Kent, creativity galore can be found along the coast, from the bohemian haven of Whitstable to Folkestone’s Creative Quarter. Recently opened to much critical acclaim is the Turner Contemporary, located on Margate’s seafront. As part of the London 2012 Festival, the Turner Contemporary gallery will put on a major free exhibition by Tracy Emin, one of England’s most famous female artists and a Margate local.

Spirit of the Sea, Weymouth & Portland Maritime Festival

June 30 – July 15, 2012

2012 sees the fifth ‘Spirit of the Sea’, Weymouth & Portland Maritime Festival, celebrating the area’s close relationship with the sea. The festival brings together a range of sporting activities, cultural events and entertainment. One of the highlights of this year’s celebrations is the Moving Tides Carnival procession, which promises to be the biggest and best yet. Full of colour, movement and sound, the spectacular performance will be bursting with energy as it makes its way to Weymouth Beach. Professional artists along with costume students from Arts University College Bournemouth will be working with 600 children from 19 schools in the borough to design and create costumes, props, music and dance. Also part of the celebrations is Dorset Seafood Festival, a free, charitable event based around Weymouth’s historic old harbour that is dedicated to promoting the health benefits of eating seafood, demonstrating the range and variety of local species available and emphasising the importance of sustainability. Visitors can expect to see celebrity chefs, seafood professionals, local fisherman and restaurants getting involved in the name of all things fishy.

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight

August 11 – 18, 2012

Weymouth will play a significant role in this year’s London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, when in a few months’ time, 60,000 people are expected to flood into Weymouth and Portland every day for 2 weeks to watch the sailing events. Team GB has topped the Sailing medals table at the last three Olympic Games and for those inspired who want to take to the water themselves, Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight is also an international sailing hot spot. The annual event is renowned for bringing people together from all walks of life and from across the globe; young and old, men and women, disabled and able-bodied, amateur and professional. Additionally the event frequently plays host to royalty and rock stars as well as a sprinkling of sporting and television personalities – most getting fully immersed in the competitive spirit of the racing action. There’s something for everyone and the racing action sees Olympic and world champions competing against weekend sailors – chasing down the very best in gold, silver and the finest cut glass trophies.

The Mary Rose, Portsmouth

Opens end of 2012

The Mary Rose is based in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Built between 1509 and 1511, she was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside, and was a firm favourite of King Henry VIII. After a long and successful career, she sank during an engagement with the French fleet in 1545. Her rediscovery and rising were seminal events in the history of nautical archaeology. Currently, the museum remains open but the ship’s hull is now closed and work has started on enveloping it in a brand new museum to open in late 2012. The hull will be at the centre of the new development with galleries running the entire length of the ship. Artefacts will be set out, designed by the architect and maritime archaeologist Chris Brandon, to allow visitors to see what the decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank.

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