First Light Festival 2022: 'Come together and reunite' on the beach

The stages and marquees going up in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The stages and marquees going up in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

The stages are being set up as Britain's only non-stop beach festival makes a welcome return to Lowestoft this weekend.

With an "amazing 24 hours" in prospect, organisers have called on people to "reunite and be together on the beach" once more.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

Last held in 2019, the free festival attracted 30,000 people as it celebrates Lowestoft's unique location and helps position the town as a ‘must-visit’ destination. 

Now, after the continuing coronavirus crisis had forced the event to be cancelled the past two years, the 24-hour First Light Festival will take centre stage in Lowestoft from noon on Saturday, June 18 as it runs continuously until noon on Sunday, June 19.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

The non-stop, innovative arts festival on Lowestoft’s South Beach will take place as one full cycle of the solstice sun is celebrated in Britain's most easterly town.

Featuring live music, DJ sets across four venues, a stellar line up of comedy, spoken word and theatre in the new First Word tent, screenings, art installations and fun for the kids "something for everyone" is set to be showcased.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

From cinema on the sand and a ticketed beach feast to a dance-along Grease workshop, displays and demonstrations, a ticketed silent disco, yoga, meditation, storytelling and much more, thousands of people are expected to flock to Lowestoft this weekend.

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'A festival unlike any other'

Organised by First Light CIC, Genevieve Christie, festival director in charge of programming, said: "Come together at First Light.

"Lets reunite, be together on the beach and celebrate.

Genevieve Christie, the director of First Light Festival in Lowestoft

Genevieve Christie, the director of First Light Festival in Lowestoft - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"This is a festival unlike any other and I am thrilled with the programme - it is a really varied programme with something on offer for everybody."

The festival starts with a special parade, as a colourful procession marches along the promenade from Claremont Pier to the main Sunlight Stage.

With community groups and 19 schools involved, the Winds of Change parade will feature banners, wind torches and whirligigs as it winds its way to the Sunlight Stage ahead of the festival kicking off with a community performance of the John Ward Band's 'The Light Returns.'

With more than 140 things to see, hear and join in with over the weekend, Mrs Christie said: "The best of youth music will appear on the New Dawn stage and we have a lot of music in the gardens.

The marquees going up at Kensington Gardens in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The marquees going up at Kensington Gardens in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

"You can be a part of the sunrise club, enjoy music in the gardens or hear some interesting talks from experts in the planet zone.

"There is some great stuff for the kids and lots of food and drink as well as the return of our beloved Pakefield Man.

"Some other installations include John Christie’s Wheel - a wheel with flags of the globe around it to signify a one world message - and Airtech’s 100ft Spike, an art structure that we are going to illuminate.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022.

The marquees and stages going up on the beach in preparation for the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

"These will provide waypoints, meeting spots and striking scenes, with the Pakefield Man installation to be set on fire at midnight."

A collective kite fly-along finale will bring the curtain down on the festival as First Kite brings together schools, community groups and festival-goers to "create a sky full of kites."

The Eastern Edge beach huts ahead of the First Light Festival 2022.

The Eastern Edge beach huts ahead of the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

Exciting programme

As one of the festival’s major funders, East Suffolk Council agreed £200,000 of funding for the event in September 2021.

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: "We are also really looking forward to the return of First Light, which attracts visitors from across the country, boosts the local economy and really puts the town on the map.

The Eastern Edge beach huts ahead of the First Light Festival 2022.

The Eastern Edge beach huts ahead of the First Light Festival 2022. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The festival was developed as part of our ambitious plans to enhance Lowestoft's South Beach, and the town itself, and has led the way for other innovative projects along the seafront, including the refurbishment of the East Point Pavilion, a new accessible boardwalk, and the new contemporary Eastern Edge beach huts."