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.

The Team

First Light Festival was incorporated as a community interest company in 2018. First Light Festival C.I.C is a new social enterprise formed by Wayne Hemingway MBE (HemingwayDesign), Genevieve Christie (FlipSide) Mary Graham (Yellobelly) and Clare Matterson CBE.

Wayne Hemingway MBE and HemingwayDesign are originators and key partners in a raft of inventive and vibrant festivals including the National Festival of Making and Festival of Thrift. Wayne’s experience spans design and regeneration expertise in the built environment and linked arts activities and he is a key driver in coastal regeneration.

Genevieve Christie has been director of FlipSide and FlipSide Festival since 2013, is founder-director of Full Circle Editions, the award-winning East Anglian publishing house.  For more than 20 years she worked in television for the BBC, LWT and independents, including producing commissions for her own production company.

Clare Matterson CBE is Director of Engagement at the Natural History Museum. For 18 years she was a part of Wellcome Trust’s senior management, notably as Director of Culture and Society and Director of Strategy, leading many of Wellcome’s transformative initiatives such as Wellcome Collection and the National Learning Centre.

Mary Graham is co-owner of brand communications agency Yellobelly based in Suffolk. As well as her day job working with clients such as The Metropolitan Police Service, University of London, FilmFixer and Roehampton Venues, Mary is an Invest in Suffolk ambassador, a board member of the Central Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Stowmarket Vision board.

First Light Festival C.I.C Team

  • Genevieve Christie – Director
  • Lizzie Hall – Project Manager
  • Elspeth Hunter – Festival Coordinator
  • Helen Hayes – Music Coordinator
  • Susan Brinkhurst – Community Arts Coordinator
  • John Marshall Potter – Technical Manager
  • Hot Gossip Media – Social Media
  • Rebecca Pickup – Finance Manager
  • Yellobelly – PR
  • Hemingway Design – Brand, Design and Marketing


Steering Group

  • Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries, Aquaculture Science)
  • East Coast College
  • Lowestoft Town Council
  • Lowestoft Rising
  • Marina Theatre
  • The Seagull Theatre
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Suffolk County Council