Events rather than places this week. Between 1996 and 2005, five major nautical-themed festivals took place in British ports. These combined the presence of ships and boats of all shapes and sizes with artists’ performances, displays and other entertainments, and were undoubtedly hugely successful in raising awareness of the role of the sea in national life (over 200,000 people apparently attended the 1998 and 2001 festivals). Sadly, none have been held since 2005, although smaller scale events have often taken place – one that I particularly enjoyed was the 2016 Weymouth Leviathan festival, the first and to date only festival of nautical fiction, which I blogged about at the time. I was fortunate enough to attend three of the five incarnations of IFOS, namely those at Portsmouth in 1998 and 2001, as well as the one at Leith in 2003. I can’t now remember why I didn’t go to the first one, in Bristol in 1996, or the last, in Portsmouth, in 2005, and also have no idea why it hasn’t been held since. Here, though, is a selection of photos I took at the three festivals I attended. Those from 1997 and 2001 were taken with a non-digital camera, but I’d acquired a digital one by 2003.

Portsmouth 1998. HMS Fearless in party mood.


Portsmouth 1998. That classic old nautical combination, sailing craft alongside purveyors of pungent French cheese.


Portsmouth 2001. USS Winston Churchill proves to be a popular draw.


Portsmouth 2001. What’s going on? Your guess is as good as mine.


Leith 2003. Viking long ship plus bonus royal yacht.

And finally, some random pictures from Leith in 2003…

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