IT'S being hailed as “the world’s biggest family reunion.”

Now organisers of a major new Southampton festival are unveiling their plans - and they want you to get involved.

Three exciting opportunities to take part in Mayflower 400 are on offer.

  • You can have your say at what kind of events the year-long anniversary programme should include with six public consultation events.
  • You can become a key player in the 2020 events by becoming a volunteer “Mayflower Maker.”
  • And there’s also a chance for talented writers to get involved with paid commissions based on the Mayflower story.

The Mayflower 400 events programme will share the values of migration, tolerance, freedom and democracy and tell the story of a ship and its passengers - a group of people that a remarkable 30million+ US citizens have descended from.

And Southampton organisers hope that the events will be a draw for visitors from across the pond - who will come to see where their ancestors left England, with specially curated tours and events designed to bring the Mayflower and Pilgrim story to life.

The international programme to mark the sailing of the Mayflower from England to the New World in 1620 will kick off next week.

The anniversary is a bid to explore the Mayflower’s history and legacy, with 400 events planned across the four nations - England, Holland, the US and the Native People Wampanoag nation.

Billed as a celebration of culture, heritage and community, 11 English towns and cities will join with those in Holland and the US whose stories had a part to play in the Mayflower’s iconic journey across the Atlantic.

Organisers say the programme will explore all aspects of the Mayflower story and reflect the core themes of imagination, humanity, freedom and future.

And in the US Pilgrim and Native People descendants are working together to create a 400th anniversary that is historically accurate and culturally inclusive, connecting individuals across the globe through educational, cultural and heritage events, exhibits and programmes.

Project manager Jim Zalles said: “The Mayflower voyage was one of the most influential journeys in global history and a defining moment in the shared history of Britain, the US and the Netherlands. This programme will not only put Southampton on the map as a cultural and tourist destination, as well as driving local economic growth, but it will enable us to enhance education and awareness of the voyage - and what it means to us today, through heritage and culture.”

The first events in Southampton will take place next week when the proposed framework of events will be unveiled - and a recruitment drive to find volunteer “Mayflower Makers” will be launched.

The Richard Taunton Sixth Form College choir will be at Central Library on January 21 singing a selection of nautical related songs.

Volunteers from every Southampton community will be recruited to help at events throughout 2020 and to share their stories of Southampton, particularly those which include the subject of journeys and migration.

In partnership with Artful Scribe, Mayflower 400 has launched a competition for local writers, where three writers will be awarded a paid commission for new writing using the Mayflower story as context.

The successful commissions will be read out by the authors at the launch events.

For more information and how to apply please go to:

The public events will take place at the following locations:

January 21 3.00pm

Central Library;

January 21 5.30pm

Shirley Library

January 22 5.30pm

Woolston Library

January 23 5.30pm

Bitterne Library

January 24 5.30pm

Lordshill Library

January 25 3.00pm

Portswood Library

Organisers of the international events have promised a “creative, inspiring and unforgettable series of events - from breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime festivals to grand, thought-provoking artistic installations and a vast network of community events.”