A POPULAR festival, which has been celebrated for 14 years, has become the latest event to be axed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Harwich International Shanty Festival, together with its planned emphasis on the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, will be postponed until next year.

Organisers have explained they have delayed their decision in the hope the Covid-19 situation might change sufficiently to make concrete plans for Autumn.

However, the Harwich Shanty festival committee has concluded the available time left is not sufficient to allow them to plan and deliver a "festival of their usual standard".

In an open statement the committee said: “The uncertainty still surrounding whether and how hospitality venues can operate, the possibility of a second spike, the increased danger of this virus to the portion of the population who form a large part of our audience; all these things make it impossible to be certain of running a festival this year.

“We would therefore like to invite all artists who were confirmed for this year to come instead in 2021 on the same terms and conditions.

“I can only apologise profusely that we find ourselves unable to run this year and hope that you will all understand it really is out of our control.”

On a brighter note, organisers have asked local groups, who could come to Harwich without the need for overnight accommodation if they would be interested in taking part in a smaller festival.

The Back to Roots Festival would take place over the weekend of October 10 and 11 if the coronavirus situation improves.

The statement said there would be no concerts and no payment, it would be organised "just for fun", but there is no guarantee it can go ahead.

“We do not know whether we will be able to sing in pubs, or only outside in the open air and we do not know which venues will be available to us,” the committee added.

“Of the confirmed groups for this year, who think this may apply to them, please also let us know, so that we can keep you updated with plans as they develop – or fail.

“There may also be some groups that we were unable to accommodate in our main programme, who might be interested in this rather impromptu mini festival.

“For the moment I can only apologise that we have found it necessary to make this decision, but we remain hopeful that a much-reduced festival may be possible this year, followed by an absolutely cracking Festival in 2021.”

People have been asked to get in touch via email at info@harwichshantyfestival.co.uk or by calling organisers on 07921 640 772 or 07894 055 151.