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First Light cancelled: Organisers vow festival will return ‘bigger and better in 2021’

PUBLISHED: 14:10 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:10 20 March 2020

A crowded beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Could you support the Journal during tough times? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A crowded beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Could you support the Journal during tough times? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Organisers of a 24-hour festival have cancelled the return of this year’s spectacular due to the coronavirus crisis.

The First Light Festival was due to return to Lowestoft’s south beach in June this year following the success of the inaugural event in 2019.

First Light – a 24-hour, multi-arts and science festival – was due to take place on Lowestoft’s south beach at noon on Saturday, June 20, and run continuously until noon on Sunday, June 21.

The First Light Festival in Lowestoft as captured at night. Picture: Mick HowesThe First Light Festival in Lowestoft as captured at night. Picture: Mick Howes

But now, following the government and Public Health England advice to avoid mass gatherings over the coming months, festival organisers made the “difficult decision” to cancel this year’s festival.

The first festival was held on Lowestoft’s south beach, Kensington Gardens and promenades during June’s midsummer solstice.

Data revealed around 30,000 people attended the event – three times more than the anticipated 10,000 – as up to £900,000 in economic benefits was generated.

After council bosses agreed to put up to £200,000 into organising the return of the festival, Arts Council England confirmed their support in January with additional match funding to ensure the festival could take place .

The First Light Festival in Lowestoft at night. Picture: Mick HowesThe First Light Festival in Lowestoft at night. Picture: Mick Howes

But announcing the cancellation of the 2020 First Light Festival, the CIC directors Genevieve Christie, Wayne Hemingway, Clare Matterson and Mary Graham said: “First Light Festival relies on people coming together, not only during the summer solstice weekend itself but in the months leading up to the event.

“Obviously, this is now not going to be possible.

“We are so very grateful for all the support we have received from our partners, colleagues, funders and most importantly the Lowestoft community during these dificult times.

“Although we are hugely saddened to be cancelling this year’s event, we will be doing everything in our power to start a programme of work later this year which will feed into next year’s festival.

“We are determined that First Light will return bigger and better in 2021.”

Craig Rivett, deputy leader of East Suffolk Council, said: “We are naturally disappointed but entirely supportive of the decision to cancel First Light this year.

“It goes without saying that the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved with the festival and the thousands of people who take part is the number one priority and we look forward to the festival returning with an incredible show in 2021.”


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