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'Like being at Glastonbury': First Light Festival attracts international crowd

PUBLISHED: 12:50 25 June 2019

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

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Lowestoft has been described as a "good lesson for other towns" by acclaimed designer Wayne Hemingway following a successful First Light Festival.

From front right, Wayne Hemmingway, Genevieve Christie, Claire Whittenbury, Andy Greenacre, Charlotte McGuiness and Matthew Bayfield at the launch of the First Light Festival, Lowestoft. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodFrom front right, Wayne Hemmingway, Genevieve Christie, Claire Whittenbury, Andy Greenacre, Charlotte McGuiness and Matthew Bayfield at the launch of the First Light Festival, Lowestoft. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

To mark the summer solstice, tens of thousands of people flocked to Lowestoft's South Beach - some from across the world, for the 24-hour multi-arts festival on Saturday (June 21).

The festival, from Wayne Hemingway and co-founder Genevieve Christie, boasted a line-up of eclectic musicians, artists, food stalls and events on the white shores of Britain's most easterly town.

After stepping on stage to DJ, Mr Hemingway said the atmosphere of the crowd was "like being on a stage in Glastonbury".

The First Light Festival in Lowestoft at night. Picture: Mick HowesThe First Light Festival in Lowestoft at night. Picture: Mick Howes

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"It was great, we are incredibly proud of the council for being so open to the event.

"Many councils would have said no - all for the wrong reasons. There is nothing wrong with a party on the beach, especially when it is well-organised as this was - they should be applauded for their support."

A spokesperson from East Suffolk Council, said: "The First Light Festival has been an incredible success, shining a sun-kissed light on Lowestoft, its creative communities and its beauty as a destination.

The First Light Festival in Lowestoft as captured at night. Picture: Mick HowesThe First Light Festival in Lowestoft as captured at night. Picture: Mick Howes

"Thousands of people enjoyed themselves and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our original plan was to help enable this event as part of a far wider strategy to reinvigorate the town and the work is only just beginning. But this is the very best possible start and efforts to secure the funding for the next First light Festival will begin almost immediately."

Mr Hemingway urged the community to get in contact with the First Light team to discuss a plan for next year's event and thanked the hundreds of volunteers for their generosity at the free festival.

He said: "I think what Lowestoft has achieved is a lot of good lessons for other towns about positivity and a can-do attitude.

"If we all act that way we can start to heal some of the division," he added, "Things like this create money and excitement, ultimately towns are brands and this shone a positive light on Lowestoft. It wasn't just the event, it was the welcoming attitude of the community."

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