Ostend for Anchor is betting four days on a strong musical programme with lots of performances throughout from 11am to 7pm. All performances are free and immediately immerse visitors in the right atmosphere. A total of 25 groups will come along, accounting for some 70 performances.

There are three stages, at the Mercator (Jan Piersplein), in the Vindictivelaan and on the Sint-Petrus- and -Paulusplein. Among the music groups, there are some established names that have been coming to Ostend for many years, such as Chiens d'Mer. This band performs uptempo folk from northern France. Chiens d'Mer was formed on a sultry summer evening on a quay in Dunkirk. They perform their very own interpretation of maritime traditional songs, as well as their own work about distant seas and mermaids. The Hot Rats have also performed at Ostend for Anchor before. They are a British folk and rock group. Their repertoire is rather Celtic and Eastern European.

Every year there are also new groups like the Silver Darlings from the UK. The group consists of six women with strong voices, hailing from Southend-on-Sea, in the south-east of England. The town has the world's longest pier and is steeped in the history of fishing.  They sing beautiful harmonies derived from traditional sea shanties, in both English and French. Their performance is infectious and energetic. Pure fun and a treat for the ear.

The programme is also full of folk, rock folk and shanty choirs. Shanties were sung on the great sailing ships that sailed the world's seas. Because the crew often had to perform the same operation at the same time, such as hoisting and lowering the sails or raising the anchor, they sang rhythmic songs called shanties, which improved both the quality of work and the atmosphere on board. One of the sailors was the cantor, "the shantyman". He sang each stanza loudly, rhythmically and with great improvisational ability, after which the refrain was roared along by the crew.

In the scarce free time, sailors sat on deck and sang about the hard life on board. "Life on board big ships was particularly hard. People forget that nowadays. In Nelson's time, sometimes 30 crew members slept in hammocks in a dormitory. To forget their misery they sang shanties. In Belgium, there is only one shanty choir from Blankenberge. The group is almost as old as Ostend for Anchor," explains curator Hubert Rubbens. The Shanty Choir Blankenberge consists of around 40 members, decked out in the typical sailor's uniform of the fishing folk on the Flemish coast. Besides the traditionals, the Shantykoor Blankenberge performs the typical Flemish sea shanties from the illustrious Icelandic voyage.

Shanty group Kimber's Men from the UK is also not to be missed. Kimber's Men was formed in 2001 by musicians boatswain Neil Kimber, ship's cook John Bromley, ship's doctor Joe Stead and ship's mate Roger "Tonky" Hepworth. In 2005, Roger left them for the eternal east when he died of cancer. The group would never be the same again, as they missed the person, his friendship and his exceptional ballads on his guitar. To honour his memory, the group continues to sing at maritime festivals.

There is also a lot of local talent on stage such as Marine V. This Ostend cover band will take you in tow and get your dancing legs moving already. All this brought with style by Willy Wullok, Mister Mussel, Ronny Rolmops and Tiny Toengsje, led by your sea captain, Capt'n Mc Naughty.