Referring of course to the classic boats sporting the popular gaff rig configuration of sails, the Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival is an annual event that takes place on the Isle of Wight; providing a weekend filled with family entertainment. In 2014 the celebrations happen over Friday 30th May, through to Sunday 1st June.
The Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival attracts gaff-rigged vessels from all over: with their distinctive square fore and aft sails, suspended from the spar, called a gaff. They congregate in the picturesque harbour; an ideal spot for keen photographers; and you will also find a number of steam and motorboats bobbing amongst them. On the Saturday some venture out for races in the Solent, where you can see their sails straining on the horizon.
There is plenty to see around the towns square and green, and not forgetting the Flower Festival in St James’ Church. To complement the historic boats there is a rally for classic and vintage cars; while the Lifeboat Station opens its doors to the public, highlighting the essential services they provide. On Friday afternoon the children’s fancy dress competition always draws a crowd, who can then take advantage of the funfair; which includes a number of exciting travelling acts. Older visitors might well slope off to the delights of the ‘Oooh Arrh Gaffers Bar,’ the biggest real ale festival on the island, which stocks dozens of beers, sourced from far and near. A wide variety of food stalls are available to help mop up the distinctive ales.
The picturesque town of Yarmouth, on the western side of the Isle of Wight, makes an ideal spot to visit at any time of year; easily reached from Southampton by Red Funnel ferries regular sailings, or Wightlink ferries from Lymington. The natural harbour is dominated by the castle, built by Henry VIII in 1547. A walk along the ‘Causeway,’ a disused railway track, is recommended, along the tree-lined banks of the River Yar; if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a red squirrel. There are plenty of restaurants in the town and comfortable places to stay if you are making a weekend of it.
As well as the shopping opportunities in town, the Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival has its own artisan gift fayre and continental market stalls; somewhere to purchase a souvenir of your fun-filled visit.
Image Courtesy of Lovesail.com
Image Copyright Lovesail.com