25 Unmissable Local Festivals 2019

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Make the most of where you live and enjoy one of the many local festivals taking place this summer. 

Ely Food & Drink Festival, 5-6 May

Ely, Cambs

Rounding up Ely’s Eel Festival is the ever popular two day Food and Drink Festival. Over 75 artisan and specialist food and drink traders will be showcasing their wares. There’s a great Street Food Scene, plus beer tent and cocktail bar with some easy listening, live music to enjoy.  www.elyeelfestival.co.uk

Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Norfolk, 10-26 May

Multiple venues across Norwich & Norfolk

The vast and wide-ranging programme showcases artists from around the world and the region presenting a huge variety of work and events throughout the city and around the county, which spans performance, theatre, music, visual arts, literature, circus, outdoor and family events. It includes world and UK premieres, one-off spectaculars, and a host of free events across the Festival. 


Highlights include Hannah Jane Walker’s highly anticipated new show ‘Highly Sensitive’, using games and poetry to investigate toughness and weakness, British soul artist Beverley Knight and Gravity & Other Mythsmultiple award-winning production ‘A Simple Space’ , which comes to Norwich for first time, to headline The Adnams Spiegeltent. www.nnfestival.org.uk

Suffolk Walking Festival, 11 May – 2 June

Put your best foot forward and uncover the delights of Suffolk with a mix of events and unforgettable walks. The festival spans the whole county with something for everyone. There’s long walks, short strolls, nature trails, historic tours, walks with a sheepdog, coastal paths and even walks that include a boat cruise and jeep ride!

Take a journey into the dark side of the woods with a ‘Woodland Night Safari’ on 11 May or learn about a time gone by with ‘The Grim and Gory Story of Ipswich’ on 29 May. If you’re feeling up to it why not take on the annual ‘Challenge Walk’ which this year follows the East Suffolk Line Walks, covering 80 miles in five days! The full line up of walks and fringe events can be found at www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk

Hanse Day Festival, 12 May

King’s Lynn, Norfolk

Taking place King Staithe Square and King’s Lynn Town Hall, the festival is a celebration of Lynn’s medieval trading and seafaring past. There will be children’s activities, craft markets, vessels on the river, street entertainers and more. Don’t miss the grand finale regatta on the Ouse! www.kingslynnhansefestival.co.uk

Bury St Edmunds Festival, 16-26 May

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Now in its 34th year, the festival will bring world class culture and entertainment to the vibrant Suffolk town across 11 days. Featuring over 50 events across 13 venues, the festival will take in some great music, song, dance, comedy, film and other art forms with top performances by both international and local artists.

The fantastic line-up includes renowned classical violinist Nigel Kennedy, returning after his sell-out concert in 2016; Rick Wakeman and Clare Teal, both also making return visits; Dr John Cooper Clarke, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; Quintet-a-Tete jazz band, the Puppini Sisters and Chineke! The programme also includes guided walks, exhibitions and an array of family events. See the full line-up and book online at www.buryfestival.co.uk. Tickets are also on sale at The Apex and other venues around Bury St Edmunds.

Clare Teal will perform at the Bury St Edmunds Festival

Vintage 1940s, 17-19 May

Lavenham, Suffolk

Step back in time with a celebration of all things 1940s. Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the 487th Bombardment Group, 8th United States Army Air Force moving in to RAF Lavenham (AAF Station 137), the weekend includes a delightful mix of 1940s pastimes such as dance, music, food and vehicles, plus a vintage fair, historic walks and tours and the opportunity to picnic at the Lavenham Airfield. theswanatlavenham.co.uk/explore/the-vintage-weekend/

Southend-on-Sea Film Festival, 23-27 May 

This year’s jam-packed programme is a true delight for film fans, with several world premieres, cinema classics and emphasis on putting independent film makers in the spotlight. The Festival’s curtain raising gala night on Thursday 23 May, will see Simon Frith’s ‘Under the Radar: The Mike Edmonds Story’ given its world premiere. The film looks back on Essex-born actor Mike Edmonds’ incredible life and career.

For older cinema goers, Southend on Sea Film Festival’s Director, Paul Cotgrove has scheduled some heart-warming classics, including ‘Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937)’, Peter Sellers’ ‘The Battle of the Sexes (1960)’ and the comedy ‘Castle in the Air’, starring the wonderful Margaret Rutherford. Families are also well catered for with crackpot capers in ‘The Laurel & Hardy Laughter Show: Stan and Ollie – Unplugged’ on Monday 27 May, Huggins (25 May) and the award-winning Japanese movie, ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’.

For tickets visit www.southendfilmfestival.com

Framlingham Gala Fest, 25-27 May

Framlingham, Suffolk

One of the best free local festivals in the region, visitors can enjoy three days of vibrancy, colour and music! This year’s theme is ‘Sand, Sea and Surf’ and will see a fun line up of events including plenty of live music, crafts, games, races, a car boot sale, food and more. With Framlingham Castle as the back drop, sit and watch live bands in Castle Meadow, tuck into BBQ food or feel the energy at the bright and bold parade which takes place on Bank Holiday Monday at noon. www.framlinghamgalafest.co.uk

Mersea Food & Drink Festival, 25 May

Rewsalls Lane, East Mersea

A celebration of the food and drink for which the are has become famous for producing. Expect plenty of oysters! www.mersea-fdl-festival.com

The Red Arrows display team showcase their flying skills in the sky above the Duxford Air Show.

Duxford Air Festival, 25-26 May

IWM Duxford, Cambs

Experience the thrills in the sky above and enjoy the fun on the ground at the Duxford Air Festival. Enjoy dynamic flying over the skies of Duxford’s historic airbase, showcasing the skill and capability of pilots in amazing aircraft, witness hair-raising aerobatics and aerial ingenuity from powerful aircraft. Take part in the live entertainment across the show ground including music, family activities and interviews. There’s also a delicious festival food! www.iwm.org.uk/events/iwm-duxford/airshows/duxford-air-festival

Bedford International Kite Festival, 1-2 June

Russell Park, Bedford

Firmly encouraging us to look up, the annual kite festival is a fabulous family day out. The sky will be filled with kite displays, plus there’s entertainment, attractions and a craft marquee. New for 2019 is the Saturday evening chill out music set, where visitors can enjoy the spectacle of kite night-flying to the sounds of ambient dance music, the perfect way to spend a summer’s evening. This year’s event is combined with the new Bedford Festival of Motoring, which will take place at the same time on the Embankment. www.bedford.gov.uk/kitefestival

St Botolph’s Festival on the Green, 14-16 June

Created by a group of neighbours 13 years ago, the festival is now firmly established and sees over 2,000 visitors enjoy a weekend packed with events. There’s snail racing and entertainment fun for all the family, while the outside arena hosts a dog show, village green games, live music, classic cars, fairground rides and more. It’s classic British village fun at its best! www.botolphgreen.net/             

Wymondham Music Festival, Norfolk, 21-29 June

The Festival returns with a packed programme of open air events, recitals and concerts. A mix of free and paid for performances, there will be music of all genres, plus the popular annual Town Busking Day, Teddy Bear’s Picnic and tea dance. www.wymfest.org.uk

Thaxted Festival, 21 June-14 July

Thaxted Church, Essex

A mix of classical orchestral concerts, piano soloists, choral works, jazz, blues, folk and klezmer, organ works, enjoy the relaxed Family Concert and Latin American fusion, in the superb surroundings of Thaxted’s historic Parish Church, featuring today’s leading performers. www.thaxtedfestival.org.uk

Maldon Festival, 22 June – 6 July

Town Centre, Maldon, Essex

Enjoy a programme of events featuring classical music, jazz, opera, piano duets and the return of some old favourites. www.maldonfestival.org.uk

First Light Festival, 22-23 June

Lowestoft, Suffolk

A brand new festival comes to the Suffolk coast this summer. Taking place on Lowestoft’s glorious sandy South Beach, with its backdrop of colourful, traditional beach huts and Victorian gardens, the First Light Festival is a free non-stop 24 hour long, multi-arts festival celebrating Lowestoft’s position as the first place that sun rises in the UK. It will begin at noon on Saturday 22 June and will run continuously through changing tides, light and darkness, sun and stars until noon on Sunday 23 June. The programme will include music, dance, film, art, science, talks, walks, fire, sports and workshops – as well as the best regional food, drinks and produce.  www.firstlightlowestoft.com

Leigh Folk Festival, 27-30 June

Leigh on Sea, Essex

A fabulous festival that draws visitors from far and wide. The festival brings together over 200 artists in music, poetry and dance across 20 venues.The festival is now in its 28th year. www.leighfolkfestival.com

The Oundle International Festival, 4-13 July

Oundle, Cambs,

Established for over 30 years, the festival hasan extensive programme for all to enjoy.There will be concerts by world class musicians, rising stars and local performance groups, arts and the return of the popular ‘Music in the Park’ on 6 July, the ‘Big Afternoon Tea’ on 7 July andthe town’s fabulous open-air party, ‘Party at the Wharf’ on 13 July, which is this year headlined by ABBAMANIA. www.oundlefestival.org.uk

Ampthill Festival Weekend, 5-7 July

Ampthill Park, Bedfordshire

The three-day volunteer-run music festival, will see festival-goers enjoy a weekend of live music and entertainment. The festivities begin with AmpRocks on Friday 5 July, where The Vamps, Squeeze, The Cuban Brothers and Jo Whiley will entertain crowds. The event is hugely popular so be quick to purchase tickets.

The weekend continues with AmpProms on the Saturday with performances by Britain’s Got Talent winning musical theatre quartet Collabro, the Ampthill Choir and Ampthill Concert Orchestra. The event is finished with a spectacular firework display. The weekend closes with the AmpGala on Sunday 7 July. A free, no ticket required event, it’s a great family day filled with fun, a lively parade, local bands and stalls. www.ampthillfestival.com.

Brentwood Festival, 12-14 July

Brentwood Centre, Doddinghurst Road, Essex

Rebranded as ‘Evoke’, each year the festival grows in popularity. Crowds gather at the Brentwood Centre, where they are treated to a weekend of live music, food, a festival market and fairground. This year’s headliners include Paul Young, Jessie J, Clean Bandit and more. Camping facilities are available, plus a VIP area, kids zone, street food, market stalls, beer tent and fun fair. Check out the unsigned stage which features some of the best up and coming bands in Essex. www.brentwoodfestival.co.uk

Garden Fair, 20 July

Howardsgate, Welwyn Garden City

A quintessential English affair of homemade delicacies, crafting, Prosecco and acoustic music to be enjoyed in the picturesque Garden City.www.wonderfulwgc.co.uk

Linslade canal Festival, 27 July

Tiddenfoot Waterside Park

A celebration of canal life, the popular event features a stage programme, stalls and food within the Paddock. On the canal visitors can enjoy boat rides and browse the working, historical and trade boat displays. Listen to local bands, folk and English country music. The event is designed to highlight canal life, conservation, the countryside and the traditional rural crafts of yesteryear. www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk/town_events/linslade-canal-festival

Hunstanton Kite Festival, 18 August

Town Centre, Hunstanton, Norfolk

Fundraising is at the heart of ‘The Kite’ but the organisers also want you to have a wonderful day of fun and entertainment with family and friends that will create memories to treasure. www.hunstantonkitefestival.co.uk

Essex Sausage, Cider and Music Festival, 24-25 August

Barleylands Farm, Billericay

A fantastic Bank Holiday family event, the festival has a great line up of tribute bands including Noasis, Kaiser Thiefs, Kopycat Killers, Guns 2 Roses, Cheatles, So Pink and one of the UK’s leading Michael Jackson impersonators Navi. Glamping facilities are available, and under 6s go free! www.jamesdeanevents.com/festival/essex-s-and-c-2/

Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival, 7-8 September

South Quay, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

The famous Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival is a fantastic free two-day event found on historic South Quay with ships to go aboard, live shanty folk music, fun street theatre exhibitions and demonstrations for visitors to explore. www.great-yarmouth.co.uk/maritime-festival


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