The Swanage and Purbeck Pirate Festival returns to the town after a three-year break but the swashbuckling fun has been scaled back by the Royalists to make way for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
At the festival on Friday 3rd June and Saturday 4th June 2022, there will be no pirate parade – because of jubilee street celebrations – and no skirmish on the beach. However it’s just for this year and organisers say there will still be plenty to enjoy.
There’ll be no pirate skirmish on the beach this year
“Some pirate festival was better than no festival”
All the Swanage and Purbeck Pirate Festival activities will take place at Sandpit Field near the seafront.
Dawn Honey, event organiser, said:
“We are fresh out of Covid and it’s our first one as a new team. Traditionally, the pirate festival is the last May Bank Holiday but because of the Queen’s Jubilee it has been moved and so we clash with a lot of other things that are going on in the town. But we thought some pirate festival was better than no festival.
“We decided to make it a little less complicated because, hats off to the previous organisers, it was complex.
“There was no money left over from the previous festival, so we are funding this ourselves, but we have already had tremendous support with things like event insurance and jumping through all the administrative hoops to make it happen.”
Unlike previous years, all activities will be confined to Sandpit Field
Dawn is joined by husband Colin Honey, a former member of the Civil War re-enactment group The Sealed Knot. The couple are also members of Wimborne Militia and the South Seas Buccaneers based in Devon.
Simon Steadman, Swanage’s Jack Sparrow, makes up the new team, in charge of site management.
There will be no kids’ disco, bouncy castle or children’s games, because it’s considered a hazard with all the firing going on and the resulting clouds of black powder.
There will be a chance to speak to re-enactors and ask questions
“A bit more ‘living history’ in its emphasis”
“We are trying to make it a bit more ‘living history’ in its emphasis. We are not trying to compete with other events but do our own thing.
“People will be able to wander round the camps and see things up close and ask questions.”
Cannons, muskets and swashbuckling sword skills as usual
As well as no bouncy castles, there will be strictly no drink on site because ‘alcohol and black powder don’t mix’. There will still be some stallholders selling food and ‘pirate wares’.
“It will be family orientated but more educational. Children are naturally inquisitive, and they like to look at things and ask questions. If people want alcohol there are some very good pubs in town.”
The new organisers say black powder doesn’t mix with alcohol
Some people have been upset at the lack of a parade and the traditional skirmish on Monkey Beach.
But Dawn said:
“As far as I’m concerned, the Queen’s Jubilee is slightly more important than the pirate festival. We hope to hold the skirmish and the parade next year.”
The event starts with a call to muster at 10 am on Friday 3rd June 2022. Between 11 am and 1pm there will be a musket display, cannons and sword skills, ending up in a skirmish at 3 pm. There will be a similar programme on Saturday, ending with the trial of Jack Sparrow.
There will also be fundraising for Swanage RNLI and for next year’s pirate festival.
It’s hoped the beach skirmish and pirate parade will return next year
“The right thing to do this year”
“Although it is only taking place on the field this year, I think people will be curious and come and seek us out.
“Nobody ever sees the work that goes on behind the scenes and we desperately want this to go well. Some people may be disappointed that it’s been scaled back a bit but they will still be able to enjoy themselves and I think it’s the right thing to do this year. Swanage will be alive with so many things and that’s good for the whole community.”
Two days of pirate fun