The Festival Concept
First Light Festival is a free, non-stop 24 hour long, multi-arts festival that celebrates the first light of the summer solstice at Britain’s most easterly point – Lowestoft in Suffolk.
Events begin on Lowestoft’s sandy South Beach at noon and run continuously through changing tides, light and darkness, sun and stars until noon the following day, to coincide with the rising solstice sun.
The festival team works closely with East Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council, Lowestoft Town Council, Arts Council England and other stakeholders, to create and deliver an event that contributes significantly to the regeneration of Lowestoft and its seafront. The aim of the festival is that it will be a place making event both regionally and nationally – developing joy, pride and a sense of place through culture and the arts for Lowestoft and its residents.
The festival grew out of the wider seafront strategy that Waveney District Council (now East Suffolk Council) commissioned HemingwayDesign to carry out. HemingwayDesign held a series of “design charettes“ with local creatives, entrepreneurs and community representatives. Wayne Hemingway presented examples of some of HemingwayDesign’s other regeneration projects and highlighted the positive impact that meaningful and individual free festivals were having (i.e. The National Festival of Making in Blackburn, Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe and the Festival of Thrift in Redcar). As a result of these discussions, it was identified that Lowestoft’s location as the most easterly point of Britain could be a key part of the narrative of the town.
Already locally known as the Sunrise Coast, group discussions led to the genesis of First Light Festival, to literally shine a light on this unique location, with local stakeholders co-curating content in a programme that has sunrise as its central focus and which celebrates a sense of place – including Lowestoft’s maritime heritage, community of artists, musicians and science connections, notably the large scale renewable energy production and scientific research by resident government agency CEFAS, the UK’s foremost marine research organisation.