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Countdown to 2012 in Dorset

You are in: Dorset > Places > Countdown to 2012 in Dorset > Spirit of the Sea festival

The Spirit of the Sea festival runs for nine days

The Spirit of the Sea festival

Spirit of the Sea festival

With its second year underway, Weymouth and Portland's maritime festival Spirit of the Sea is already established as a key event in the area's calendar, but it's also helping to establish a long term legacy that will last long after 2012.

Spirit of the Sea began with the idea that an annual festival could help ensure Weymouth and Portland have a high profile when the Olympic and Paralympic sailing and windsurfing events are staged at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in 2012.

Now in its second year, Spirit of the Sea, which kicked off on Saturday 4 July, is a nine-day maritime-themed festival, with community involvement at its heart.

Its 44 activities and events include Beach Live, a free live music and performance showcase featuring acts from the local entertainment scene.

Hundreds of local people are involved in the festival

Hundreds of local people are involved

Other events include exhibitions about the Navy at Portland, Chesil Beach and sea art and fossils; sailing demonstrations and competitions and walks; displays and even a raft building challenge.

But organisers say the festival is much more than an annual local celebration.

It's also crucial for the area's future, in terms of culture, economy and community - and organisers hope it will last long after the Olympic sailing events have finished.

Steve Davis, Promotions and Events Officer for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, says: "We wanted an annual legacy event [after the 2012 games] but we couldn't wait until then.

"The feeling, especially from local people, is that we want instead to build an event leading up to 2012, to establish something in advance."

Parade on the Esplanade

Parade on the Esplanade

Steve says the involvement of locals is integral to the Spirit of the Sea's success.

"It's paramount. Without the support of locals we haven't got an event.

"Each individual part of the festival is underpinned by the enthusiasm and hard work of people from Weymouth and Portland, and beyond.

"It's constantly understated and they never take the recognition they deserve, but working on their own part of the festival, they make it all happen."

The first Spirit of the Sea festival in 2008 was seen as a huge success for the area, with an extra 35,000 visitors over the course of the festival, which is also definitely to return in 2010 and 2011.

Inspired by Munich

Part of the inspiration for the festival came from a similar annual event held in the German city of Kiel, which was the sailing venue for the Munich Olympics of 1972.

It's now one of northern Europe's biggest maritime festivals, and generates up to three million extra visitors to the area, and the ambitions of Spirit of the Sea's organisers are just as big.

Looking after some of the day to day planning of this year's event, Steve Davis is in for a busy nine days.

Seafood festival by the quay

Seafood festival by the quay

He says: "I think the Beach Live event on Weymouth beach is a highlight. But overall we've got 44 individual events and many take place over multiple days. If you added those up you'd have well over 100 events.

"The festival's ethos centres on the area's maritime link, but the festival is as much about the people of Dorset.

"The county is going to take real advantage of the 2012 Olympic games and use it to promote our culture, heritage and our people.

"We have a lot to be proud of."

A full programme of for the Spirit of the Sea Festival is available on its website.

last updated: 10/07/2009 at 14:16
created: 28/02/2008

You are in: Dorset > Places > Countdown to 2012 in Dorset > Spirit of the Sea festival

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