Discover the Yorkshire coast in March

Schoolchildren who are given the afternoon off school take part in the Shrove skipping event on the

Schoolchildren who are given the afternoon off school take part in the Shrove skipping event on the seafront of the North Yorkshire Resort. - Credit: Archant

A guide to events at the seaside compiled by Janet Deacon

No-one really knows why it happens, but March on the coast kicks off with a tradition unique to Scarborough – Shrove Tuesday skipping. Every year on Pancake Day, which this year falls on March 4th, the Pancake Bell in the town centre is sounded at midday by the town crier and the crowds start to gather, old and young alike, on Scarborough’s South Bay to skip. So ingrained is the tradition that schools let children off lessons to attend, and the local council closes the road along the bay. Its origin is unclear, but at one time people in farming communities used to skip as a fertility rite to encourage good crops, and in fishing communities to ensure a good catch.

At Scarborough Spa, the month starts with fun for very young ones with the hugely popular Bananas in Pyjamas (March 1st).This brand new, all-singing, all-dancing show promises plenty of audience participation and slapstick fun. At the other end of the age range, Remember When (March 20th) is an afternoon of good old-fashioned fun with musical memories from the 1940s to the 1970s. Completing the line-up at the Spa this month are two up-and-coming comics – Chris Ramsey, star of TV hit Hebburn (April 19th) and Seann Walsh, a charismatic storyteller known as ‘the Lie-In King’ (March 21st).

There’s a wealth of entertainment on offer in March at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre; deciding what not to see is the problem! Fifth Word and Nottingham Playhouse present Amateur Girl (March 13th) by Amanda Whittington, writer of last year’s much-lauded The Thrill of Love. The following day, two of the country’s leading classical artists, Marcus Farnsworth (baritone) and James Baillieu (piano) perform Schubert’s demanding song cycle, Winterreise. Penny Dreadful presents How to be Immortal (March 15th), three intertwining true tales of love, science, death and immortality. The feast continues a few days later with Townsend Productions’ We Will Be Free, a drama about the Tolpuddle Martyrs (March 18th) and Ridiculusmus brings The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland (March 19th and 20th) a show featuring Finnish folk and Margaret Drabble, amongst others.

The SJT month is rounded off with poetry, a compilation of poetic hits old and new from John Hegley (March 22nd) and the New Vic Theatre’s production of Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, which won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2000 (March 26th to April 5th).

Along the coast at Whitby Pavilion, there’s more comedy with Andrew Lawrence, described by The Guardian as ‘an A-list talent’ (March 8th). The pavilion also hosts the Musicport 2014 launch concert (March 14th ), this year featuring the prodigious talents of Grammy-nominated Bassekou Kouyaté with his band Ngoni ba from Mali – their debut album, Segu Blue, triumphed at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, winning the coveted Album of the Year.

The venue will echo to the sounds of the 1950s and 1960s when the Shakespeare/sci-fi/rock ‘n’ roll mash-up that is Return to the Forbidden Planet (March 26-29th), takes to the stage.

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March also sees the opening of Australian Encounters at Whitby’s Captain Cook Memorial Museum on Grape Lane (March 1st to November 2nd). Cook and his successors charted the continent’s coastline and marvelled at the strange new creatures they saw.

In Filey the Evron Centre Rooms feature Ann Fearon and a talk on the unimaginably tough life led by the ‘flither girls’, whose job it was to gather and prepare the bait for their husbands to fish from the town (March 20th).

Janet Deacon is North Yorkshire area director of Welcome to Yorkshire