21 events not to be missed in 2019

The festive fun is over and the month ahead may look dreary but don’t let the January blues get you down. The region’s biggest and most exciting events have started to announce 2019 dates, so give yourself something to look forward to and book your ticket to one of the most highly anticipated events of the year…but hurry, tickets won’t be around for long!

Horror on Sea Film Festival

Horror-On-Sea Film Festival , 11- 13 and 18-20 January

Park Inn by Radisson Palace Hotel, Southend, Essex

Since its inception in 2012, Horror-On-Sea has grown to become the UK’s largest independent festival devoted to the genre and for the first time, will now be spread across two weekends.


From vampires to hookers with hacksaws, murderous hillbillies selling strange ‘beef’ to hellacious cats named ‘Angel’, Horror-on-Sea promises full-length features and shorts from across the whole horror spectrum – including killer donuts. Unlike the fate of many characters in the films, tickets won’t cost moviegoers an arm and a leg. Prices start at just £6 per film, from £25 for a Day Pass and, for serious fans, a Mega Festival Pass – that gets you into everything – offers unbeatable value deal at £100 for the entire festival. www.horror-on-sea.com

Winter Garden

David Austrin – 40 years of the Winter Garden, Saturday 9 February, 10am to 1pm

Cambridge University Botanic Garden, 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE

Price: £35

To celebrate 40 years of  Cambridge University Botanic’s Winter Garden, join horticulturist  David Austrin, from the team who cares for the garden, and discover his top 10 winter plants to making your garden sparkle right through the season. David will take you on a tour of the oldest winter garden in the country to find out which plants make it so  special. With tips and time for questions, you’ll leave inspired to  create your own winter garden plantings at home. Booking required. www.botanic.cam.ac.uk

Mark Thomas at the Cambridge Junction, 12 February

Clifton Way, Cambridge CB1 7GX

Following a once-again sell-out Fringe run in August to absolute critical acclaim, swiftly followed by a two week sell-out run at London’s Arcola Theatre, Mark Thomas brings his now famous style of theatre, comedy, investigative journalism and reportage to Cambridge. Mark is 54, the NHS is 70, and the UK national average life expectancy is 84. If Mark makes it to 84, the NHS will be 100. What will they both look like? Based on a series of residencies and interviews with leading experts in and on the NHS, Mark uses his own demise to explore the state we’re in, what’s going wrong in our NHS, how it can go right, and what the future might hold for us all. www.junction.co.uk/

Banff Mountain Film Festival Valentine Fabre, Dent du Géant © Ben Tibbetts

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, February – March

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is celebrating its 10th year of touring the UK and Ireland, bringing over 100 adrenaline-packed shows to almost 60 venues from January to May.

Featuring two different collections of brand-new films from the world’s most intrepid film-makers, starring pioneers and explorers tackling extraordinary expeditions in the wildest corners of the planet. The tour will be visiting the Cambridge Corn Exchange from 15-16 February, St Albans Alban Arena on 19 March and Norwich Theatre Royal on 20 March. www.banff-uk.com

The Solid Silver 60’s Show, March to April

Southend, St Albans & Milton Keynes

The most successful touring show with a multi-artist line-up in the world, ‘The Solid Silver 60’s Show’, will once again play to audiences up and down the UK as it has done for an incredible, record-breaking 34 years, for what could be the last time ever! Celebrating the original package shows of the 1960s, where fans would see a raft of artists performing their hits on one incredible bill, the show has been performed to over a million people since its first tour in the 1985. The 2019 show will feature original popstars and hitmakers of the era: Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Brian Poole of The Tremeloes, Dave Berry, and Vanity Fare. You can catch a performance at Southend Cliffs Pavilion on 15 March, St Albans Alban Arena on 10 April and Milton Keynes Theatre on 14 April.

Luke Wright | Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

Luke Wright, Poet Laureate, 30 March 2019

Norwich Playhouse

It’s the 20th anniversary of Luke Wright’s first ever gig in 2019, coincidentally the year a new Poet Laureate is to be announced. So what better year for the region’s favourite poet to throw his hat in the ring in a bid for British poetry’s top job? His all new show Luke Wright, Poet Laureate goes on an extensive 20th Anniversary tour of Britain this year and comes to Norwich Playhouse for a very special extended performance on 30 March. www.lukewright.co.uk 

Audley End House

Essex’s Big Weekend, 6-7 April

2019 will see Visit Essex’s third Big Weekend, when hundreds of residents will be able to visit some of the county’s finest tourist attractions for free. The event is designed to encourage residents to rediscover the amazing things to see and do in their home county – and to then spread the word about them. Attractions will be donating free tickets for residents to bid on from 21 February, and two tickets per household will be allocated by ballot to the lucky winners (some family tickets will be available as well). www.essexbigweekend.co.uk

Norfolk & Norwich Festival, 10-26 May

The largest arts festival in the East of England returns for another year of entertainment from some of the UK’s leading artists and performers. ‘A Simple Space’ by Gravity & Other Myths will headline the Adnams Spiegeltent. Here you’ll see seven acrobats push their physical limits without reserve; this performance is simultaneously raw, frantic and delicate. Norwich Theatre Royal will host enchanting dance performances from the likes of ‘Bells and Spells’ and ‘Blak Whyte Gray’. The full line up can be found at www.nnfestival.org.uk

DogFest | Nigel Kirby Photography

DogFest, 11-12 May

Knebworth House, Hertfordshire

Now entering its sixth year, DogFest will once again promise a packed schedule of celebrity appearances and expert talks, jaw-dropping dog displays, educational sessions and fun, have-a-go activities.  Everything is geared towards celebrating the amazing bond between dogs and people and promoting animal welfare. All this plus great live music sets, cool street food and shopping galore for pooches and people alike. Special guests include TV’s Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick and Crufts presenter Clare Balding.  www.dog-fest.co.uk

Bury St Edmunds Festival 2019, 17 – 26 May

Now in its 34th year, the highly popular Bury St Edmunds Festival will take place at entertainment venues and spaces across the cathedral town. Enjoy 10 packed days of great music, theatre, comedy, film and other art forms with top performances by artists of international renown alongside home-grown talent. Venues range from The Apex and Theatre Royal to St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Abbey Gardens and Moyse’s Hall Museum.

The full programme, with events catering for a range of interests across all ages, will be available from February at www.buryfestival.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01284 758000. 

Red Rooster

Red Rooster, 30 May – 1 June

Euston Hall, Suffolk

The RnB, Americana, Blues, Soul, Roots and Country music festival is back for another year with a stellar line-up of artists including headliners Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets, rock’n’rollers Low Cut Connie, country music maverick Dale Watson & His Lone Stars, Jesse Dayton and Errol Linton to name a few! It’s not just the music that makes this festival a sell-out, its laid back vibe, soul food, location and fantastic camping facilities makes it a popular choice with families of all ages. Don’t think twice about booking! Weekend tickets priced from £69.50. www.redrooster.org.uk

Jess Glynne

Forest Live, 21-23 June

Thetford Forest, near Brandon, Suffolk

If you haven’t been to a Forest Live gig, make sure it’s on your to do list this year! Taking place in Thetford Forest, the gigs host some of the biggest names in music and are a great opportunity to make the most of the light evenings and enjoy fantastic live music with the backdrop of the woodlands. This year Paul Weller takes to the stage on 21 June, followed by Jess Glynne on 22 June. Tickets priced from £44.50, and money raised from ticket sales will help to look after the nation’s forests sustainably, for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive. Tickets are now on sale. www.forestryengland.uk/music   

Chapelfield Summer Circus 2018

Chapelfield Summer Circus, 11- 14 July 2019

Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich

Organised and run by Norfolk based Lost in Translation Circus, Chapelfield Summer Circus will feature the company’s own new shows alongside those of acclaimed international companies. All daytime and early evening shows will be suitable for all the family with late night cabarets on Friday and Saturday exclusively for adult audiences. Their mix of spectacular showmanship, circus, variety, humour and music, compered by the inimitable Abigail Collins, are a perfect late night pleasure. www.circusnorwich.co.uk 

Phil Fanning at Taste

TASTE Bedford, 13 July, 11am – 6pm

Mill Meadows, Bedford

Bedford’s annual food and music festival returns to Mill Meadows with more street food, food demos, local producers,  live music and more kid’s activities than ever before. This hugely popular event is a great day out for all the family. It’s free to attend – just make sure you go hungry! bedpop.co.uk


Thriller Live at Newmarket Nights, 19 July

Newmarket Racecourse, Suffolk

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan this is one not to be missed! For the first time Newmarket Nights will host Thriller Live on its stage – a spectacular concert created to celebrate the career of the world’s greatest entertainer, Michael Jackson. Now in its 10th year, the two hour West End production will take you on an electrifying visual and audio journey through the magic of Michael’s 45-year musical history, playing his greatest hits and paying homage to Jackson’s legendary innovative dance moves executed with flair. This show is guaranteed to have you dancing! Tickets priced from £25. http://www.thejockeyclublive.co.uk

Jasper Carrott’ onstage Holt2018 2 by Rodney Smith

Holt Festival, 21-27 July 2019

Holt Festival is an award-winning annual feast of the arts taking place in the charming North Norfolk Georgian country town in the last week of July that returns for the first time under the new permanent Artistic Directorship of Anwen Hurt.  The first highlights will be announced in late February with the full programme going on sale at the end of April and there’s sure to be another dazzling international array of music, drama, visual art, film, literature, dance, comedy, kids shows and more. Full details will appear at www.holtfestival.org 

Cool Britannia Festival, 30 August – 1 September

Knebworth House, Hertfordshire

Back by popular demand, Cool Britannia will continue to tend to the needs of rock and dance music fans in 2019 with camping, glamping, street food, themed bars, street entertainers, funfairs, kid-zone, fireworks, trade stands, karaoke and much more! TV and radio presenter Jo Whiley will curate the Main Stage on Saturday 31 August. The full line up will be announced later this month. www.coolbritanniafest.com. 

Classic Ibiza

Classic Ibiza, 31 August

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Classic Ibiza is bringing its heady blend of Balearic beats back to Hatfield House this year, following the resounding success of last summer’s concert. Classic Ibiza starts with a chill-out set where people can enjoy their picnics and a drink, or dance along as the sun fades. Then DJ Goldierocks will turn things up in the interval, getting the crowd into the mood before the Urban Soul Orchestra and vocalists return to the stage to bring a vibrant atmosphere to the summer evening. One classic dance track will follow another, as the delightful grounds of Hatfield House turn into a magical, alfresco celebration, with accompanying lasers. Tickets from £39.50. www.classicibiza.co.uk

SpectaculArts Carnival, 7 September

Bedford Park, Bedford

Bedford is known for its wonderfully diverse population and the SpectaculArts Carnival will bring the town’s communities together for a town-wide carnival celebration. The parade throughout the town centre will be a moving show, featuring actors, musicians, storytellers, audience participation, street performers and spoken word, culminating in a festival in Bedford Park. Absolutely unmissable! @SpectaculArts

HighTide Festival, 10-15 September

Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Returning to the coastal town for another year, the festival brings together political, contemporary and provocative work, created by new, diverse artists. At the centre of the Aldeburgh event will be ‘LIT’; a co-production between HighTide and Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, it explores the turbulent teenage years of a girl looking for love in all the wrong places. The performance joins ‘Rust’ as the headline productions for HighTide Festivals Aldeburgh and Walthamstow. The full festival programme will be announced in May when tickets go on sale. www.hightide.org.uk

Out There | JMA Photography

Out There Festival, Great Yarmouth, 13-15 September 

The Out There Festival brings the international circus and street arts worlds to Great Yarmouth for a weekend of colour, spectacle and riotous fun for all the family. Organised by SeaChange Arts Out There takes place all over the town centre and seafront, filling its venues, parks, streets and promenades with the cream of circus and street art performers from all over the world.

Almost all of Out There is completely free so if you only visit this Norfolk seaside gem once this year this is the weekend to do it! www.outtherefestival.com  


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