CENTURIES of seafaring history in Southampton will be brought to life as the Maritime Festival returns to the city.

This year’s event will take place over the bank holiday weekend in August and will feature historic vessels, performances and activities for the whole family.

And this year’s event will coincide with three major anniversaries – 50 years of Southampton’s city status, 70 years since the D-Day landings in the Second World War and 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Last year’s Second World War-themed event took place in May and attracted 12,000 people, but organisers the Southampton Heritage Federation are hoping for an even bigger crowd this year.

This year’s event at the port’s Ocean Terminal on August 22 and 23 will feature a flotilla of historic ships and boats.

They will include the Second World War ship HMS Medusa and a variety of smaller ships, including the ST Challenge, which took part in the Dunkirk evacuation of British troops in 1940.

The steamship SS Shieldhall will be moored at the quayside and offer trips around the Solent, while the Jubilee Sailing Trust will attend with the 63m tall ship Tenacious.

Back on dry land, there will be historic cars, steam engines and heritage trams alongside craft, heritage and art traders.

Throughout the course of the event there will be dozens of live performances each day from acts including pipe, brass and swing bands and pop groups, while August 22 will be families day, with a number of activities for children.

The Maritime Archaeology Trust will also organise a number of events which are yet to be announced, and the festival will raise funds for various maritime charities.

City council economic development and leisure chief Councillor Matt Tucker said: “I am thoroughly pleased that the Southampton Maritime Festival is returning this August and Southampton City Council is proud to lend its support to this event.

“Last year’s festival was extremely popular with residents and families alike and, in our 50th year of city status, the festival gives us the opportunity to reflect on Southampton’s great heritage.”

The organisers are appealing for more sponsorship and volunteers to help run the event.

You can find out more at southamptonmaritimefestival.com.