'Great sadness' as First Light Festival cancelled for 2021

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 major seaside festival which attracted around 40,000 visitors to Lowestoft has been cancelled for the second year running.

The 24-hour First Light Festival, which is held under the sun and stars on Lowestoft's South Beach and in 2019 boosted the town's economy by up to £900,000, will not go ahead as hoped this June. 

East Suffolk Council announced the decision "with great sadness", saying despite the government's roadmap out of lockdown, there would be no guarantee until "almost the very last minute" as to whether the festival could go ahead.

Lowestoft's First Light Festival in 2019.

Eddie Lambert, four, front, with Maya Day, five, and Elliott Barnard, four, inside the dragon on the beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival in 2019. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Genevieve Christie, one of the festival directors, said: "We are so very grateful for all the support we have received from our partners, colleagues, funders and, most importantly, the Lowestoft community over the last year.

"Although we are hugely saddened to be cancelling this year's event, we will do everything in our power to plan for a bigger and better First Light 2022."

The return of the 24-hour multi-arts and science festival was one of the most eagerly anticipated dates for 2020 following the previous year's success, before the coronavirus outbreak.

A crowded beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Could you support the Journal during tough time

A crowded beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Could you support the Journal during tough times? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

East Suffolk Council had previously pledged £140,000 for the return of the festival this summer.

Deputy council leader Craig Rivett said: "We are disappointed this decision needs to be taken, but it is important to have certainty and to absolutely prioritise the health and wellbeing of all potential participants and attendees.

"There is huge excitement about the possibilities that come with the easing of restrictions.

Enjoying the popular Beach Bar at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Enjoying the popular Beach Bar at Lowestoft's First Light Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

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"However, planning a festival of this size and complexity with a great degree of uncertainty about whether it can proceed is simply too great a risk - particularly with public money involved.

"We are looking forward to working with the First Light Festival team on supporting community events this year and, more than ever, look forward to the festival returning in 2022."

The team behind the festival have, however, confirmed a number of community activities will take place at the end of June to continue to showcase the town's artistic and creative pedigree, with more details to be released soon.

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