Lowestoft Journal awards: Your fresh idea of the year

Thousands of bird boxes were installed around Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft

Thousands of bird boxes were installed around Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft as part of First Light Festival's Days of Summer programme. - Credit: Reece Hanson

There was great disappointment in Lowestoft when the return of a major festival was delayed by another year due to Covid.

But that wasn't going to stop the organisers from putting together a safe, Covid-friendly event enjoyed by young and old alike.

To mark summer solstice at the UK's most easterly town, the festival staged their Days of Summer programme, with thousands of decorated bird boxes and hundreds of silk flags adorning popular spots.

Thousands of bird boxes were installed around Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft

Thousands of bird boxes were installed around Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft as part of First Light Festival's Days of Summer programme. - Credit: Reece Hanson

Kensington Gardens, East Point Pavilion and the historic High Street hosted more than 2,000 bird boxes created by local pupils and acclaimed artists as part of an outdoor exhibition recognising Lowestoft as one of the first landing posts for a number of different birds migrating across the world to settle and breed.

South Beach also saw the installation of 500 individually designed, hand-painted silk flags to mark the start of a 500-mile walk from Lowestoft to Tilbury, in Essex.

The festival also welcomed a number of performances on the beach throughout the weekend, including installations by artist Adam Bridgeland, shanties by the Lowestoft Longshore Men and the Silver Darlings, and sessions with the Kirkley Creatives group.

500 individually designed silk flags were installed on South Beach as part of the Days of Summer programme.

500 individually designed silk flags were installed on South Beach as part of the First Light Festival's Days of Summer programme. - Credit: Reece Hanson

Genevieve Christie, of First Light CIC: said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be given the fresh idea of the year award.

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"We had a really lovely reaction to the programme over the summer and that was great to see.

"I think people really appreciated being able to get involved in something that they could then take their friends and family along to share their creativity with each other, especially with so many beautiful bird boxes.

"We had some great feedback from local children, adults and the community groups taking part.

"We are looking forward, beyond this very tricky time, with optimism for next year."

The inaugural First Light Festival – a 24-hour, multi-arts and science festival – attracted around 30,000 people to Lowestoft in 2019, but has been unable to return since due to the pandemic.

First Light Festival's Day of Summer programme continued over the weekend.

First Light Festival's Day of Summer programme continued over the weekend. - Credit: Reece Hanson

The 2020 festival was cancelled in March of that year, shortly after the country entered lockdown.

A year later, again in March, this year's event was also cancelled as organisers had no guarantee until "almost the very last minute" as to whether it would go ahead, with it originally scheduled to take place just days after the government's roadmap out of lockdown in June.

East Suffolk Council's cabinet have already pledged funding of £200,000 for the festival's return in 2022.

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