Whitby May Take You by Surprise

When you visit a quaint seaside town in England you probably don’t expect to see flocks of Goths taking over the town or folk musicians and dancers from all over the world standing on the street corners giving impromptu concerts.  However, when you visit Whitby in Yorkshire, England, you should expect the unexpected.
Whitby Folk Week
It started out as a way to celebrate dance nearly 50 years ago, Whitby is invaded every year by folk dancers, singers and songwriters to celebrate the dance and music of the British Isles.  Dances dating back to the Babylonian era to now are celebrated at this festival, including clogging which is a popular dance style in the country.  Clogging has been popular in the British Isles for centuries, starting out in about the 16th Century and evolving into the dance that has emigrated all over the world.

There are about 600 events scheduled during Whitby Folk Week, but musicians will often go into pubs and start impromptu concerts to play with people they’ve just met, much to the delight of patrons who happen to be there.  The event takes place in August, just a few days after the Whitby Regatta.
The Whitby Regatta
The regatta is the oldest sea regatta in England, dating back 173 years in 2013.  Taking place in August, it holds competitions and events along the coast of Whitby, including rowing competitions in which the Wilson Cup is awarded.  A fun raft race is also featured during the festival with people getting as creative as possible with their designs and the weapons they use to try to take out their competition.  Flour bag bombs are one of the most common ways to attack your opposition.

The regatta takes place over three days, so it may be worth looking for hotels in Whitby if you wish to take full advantage of it. Boat races are not the only featured at the regatta.  A 4k fun run takes place along the coast, a beach football festival for kids and several car and motorcycle rallies take place as well. A fireworks display is the traditional end to the event.
Whitby Goth Week
In 1994, a group of about 40 pen pals gathered in Whitby to enjoy each others company, listen to the music they are liked and to share their love of all things Goth.  What they probably couldn’t foresee is their gathering turning into a bi-yearly event taking place in April and around Halloween.  While it started out as a gathering to celebrate the music they all loved, it now includes celebrating the Goth lifestyle, along with other alternative lifestyles.

Music is still at the center of the event and includes bands that play death metal, post punk rock and industrial music.  Other events include boat trips, picnics and a charity football match between the Goths and members who work for the local newspaper, the Whitby Gazette.

While many people may visit Whitby for its charm, history and to enjoy the quaint seaside community, you can expect a few surprises if you visit during many of its festivals and local events.