THE big weekend is here – it's time for Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival.

A total of 66 groups will perform from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon at the event, which is now in its 16th year.

They have come from all over Europe and the UK and will combine to provide more than 300 hours of free entertainment for all ages and interests.

Fisherman's Friends, The Oggymen, Falmouth Shout, Culdrose Military Wives, Nankersey Male Choir and Oll An Gwella are just some of the names that will be performing.

There will be four main stages for the first time at this year's festival.

Three of them will be, as per previous festivals, at the Seven Stars on The Moor, Events Square and Custom House Quay.

New this year will be the Falmouth Packet Stage on Prince of Wales Pier, as the newspaper strengthens its ties with the event.

Singing will take place across the weekend at more than 20 other venues throughout Falmouth – including pubs, cafes, hotels and shops.

The festival programme is on sale for £5 from The Cornish Store in Arwenack Street and across the weekend it will be available from the Festival Shops on Custom House Quay and Events Square.

Everything is free, aside from the Falmouth Packet Shanty Concert, which takes place at The Poly on Saturday evening and is now sold out.

Organisers expect to exceed the 60,000 people who attended last year's festival, which raises funds for the RNLI.

Official festival merchandise, including the commemorative double CD, is also available from the Cornish Store.

Follow the Packet's live blog coverage on Saturday and Sunday for pictures, videos and updates at