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Hanse Festival returns this weekend

Crowd in King's Staithe Square watching the 2019 Hanse Festival

Published: Tuesday, 7th June 2022

Medieval merchants, sea-shanties, flag waving, Latvian dancing, live music and a regatta on the river return to King’s Lynn this weekend as the town celebrates its membership of the Hanseatic League.

The ever-popular Hanse Festival is to return to King’s Lynn on Sunday 12 June 2022.

Cllr Graham Middleton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Business, Culture and Heritage at the borough council, is delighted to see the festival return for a 12th time this year: “This festival celebrates the town’s past and current membership of the Hanseatic League. With lots to enjoy in King’s Staithe Square and the South Quay it’s another great reason to visit King’s Lynn and enjoy what the town has to offer.”

The Hanse Festival Regatta, organised by Wells and King’s Lynn Coastal Rowing Club, will be held over both days of the weekend and will feature boats from all over the country. At 2:30pm on Saturday 11 June the Baden Powell will set sail and the first race on the River Great Ouse will be held at 3pm.

On Sunday 12 June, an open air breakfast is available at the Wenns in the Saturday Market Place from 10am. At 11:30am the ‘Parade of Flags’ and walking boats, which showcase all of the Hanseatic countries, will leave the Tuesday Market Place. Supported by the Hanseatic Union, flag bearers from many countries will head through King's Lynn town centre towards the historic Saturday Market Place and onto the quayside. People are invited to come and join the parade.

From 11:50am, traditional Latvian dancing will start the entertainment on King’s Staithe Square, followed by live music on stage from the Pot of Gold Shanty Crew, Bruther Will and Good Company.

Music will be playing, people representing Hanseatic nations will be waving flags and thanks to Rachael Williams, the Learning and Engagement Officer from Stories of Lynn, children can get involved with activities on King’s Staithe Square. Rachael said, “I can’t wait for this year’s Hanse Festival. We have chocolate cakes to decorate, a range of fun outdoor games to play, Hanse badges to design and make and the popular junk model boat making where children can use the junk to build their own little boat and test it on the mini-river. It is going to be great!”.

When the bands stop, the second day of racing on the river begins, with the final race finishing at 6pm.

Popular events from previous festivals return, including Discover Hanseatic Lynn walks and a lecture at the Hanse House from Dr Paul Richards.

The King’s Lynn Town Guides will lead the ‘Discover Hanseatic Lynn’ walks. Walks are free to attend but must be booked at the Tourist Information Centre inside Stories of Lynn.

Activities to mark Hanse Day will also be taking place at King’s Lynn Minster, Hanse House, Marriott’s Warehouse, Clifton House Tower and at The Place in New Conduit Street.

All the latest information on the day is available at

The Hanseatic League – then and now

The Hanseatic League was a historic and powerful trading alliance which began in Germany in the 13th century and dominated Baltic and North Sea trade for three centuries. The alliance brought wealth and prosperity to King’s Lynn, as it became one of the league’s main UK ports. Merchants thronged the Great Ouse waterfront. The Hanseatic warehouse was built by German merchants, and Lynners built fine homes, guildhalls and churches alongside the busy river. The legacy of these great merchants can still be seen today.

The new Hanseatic League was created in 1980, its purpose was to keep the spirit of the original league alive in terms of a social and cultural alliance. The new Hanse consists of 192 cities across 16 countries. In July 2005, the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk became the first English city to become a member of the new Hanse. Cllr Nick Daubney represents England on the International Commission for the league and sits alongside representatives from each of the other member countries.

It is hoped that membership of the Hanse (which is free) will help with international networking, raising awareness of King’s Lynn across the member countries and increase overall recognition, both locally and further afield, of this important facet of King’s Lynn’s rich heritage.

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