Beach events planned to welcome summer despite festival call off

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft.

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft in 2019. - Credit: Mick Howes

A series of seaside events have been planned to welcome the first rays of summer next month. 

While the First Light Festival fell victim to the uncertainty around lockdown easing, a series of performances will be held in person and online in line with the government guidelines.

The Longest Days of Summer programme will get underway with the summer solstice at 4.15am on June 21 on South Beach, in Lowestoft, with a live stream available on the First Light Facebook page.

Directors of the First Light Festival

From front right, Wayne Hemmingway, Genevieve Christie, Claire Whittenbury, Andy Greenacre, Charlotte McGuiness and Matthew Bayfield at the launch of the First Light Festival, Lowestoft, in 2019. - Credit: Jamie Honeywood

Genevieve Christie, one of the festival directors, said: "Although we were hugely disappointed not to be able to celebrate First Light Festival in the usual way, we are thrilled to showcase creativity and participation through our Longest Days of Summer programme.

"We hope the events taking place on the beautiful South Beach and Lowestoft town itself will be an opportunity for people to reconnect with friends, family and the world around us after so many months of isolation."

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From midday on June 26 for 24 hours, the Beach of Dreams will see 500 individually designed silk flags installed on South Beach to mark the beginning of a 500 mile walk.

The journey, from Lowestoft to Tilbury, in Essex, has been organised by arts organisation Kinetika in partnership with First Light, with the first stretch setting off at noon on Sunday, June 27.

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The 500 flags have been designed by the people of Suffolk and Essex, and transformed into hand-painted, naturally-dyed silk pennants to be displayed over the weekend.

At the same time, Kensington Gardens, East Point Pavilion and Lowestoft's historic High Street will host thousands of individually-designed bird boxes by acclaimed regional and local artists, crafters, schoolchildren and local business owners.

Called First Flight, the 24-hour outdoor exhibition will recognise South Beach as one of the first landing posts for a number of different birds migrating across the world to settle and breed.

The programme also includes the latest beach installation by artist Adam Bridgeland, shanties by the Lowestoft Longshore Men and The Silver Darlings and sessions with the Kirkley Creates group, as well as performances by singing group Britten Pears Art's Group A, classical harpist Xenia Horne, jazz quarter PiNG MACHINE, and Bossa Nova quartet Los Peritos.

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