First Light Festival celebrates the Winter Solstice online

A 18 foot metal wheel on a beach with fireworks

The Wheel art installation on Lowestoft's South Beach will be a focal point of First Light Festival's celebration of the Winter Solstice - Credit: First Light

Suffolk’s east coast arts festival First Light is marking the end of a unique year with a series of specially-commissioned online winter solstice performances.

The festival, which is based in and around Lowestoft, will be marking the shortest day of the year with a number of online winter solstice events designed to remind people that after a challenging year brighter, lighter days are just around the corner.

Group of people on the beach looking at The Wheel instillation

The Wheel will send out message of hope at the conclusion of the Winter Solstice celebrations which can be viewed online on Sunday December 20 - Credit: First Light

The performances of music, dance and storytelling will be available to watch on the festival’s Facebook page from Sunday December 20. The event will also include a bespoke designed 18ft metal wheel, designed by artist John Christie working with Lowestoft-based metal fabricator Richard Paine of My Metal Fabrications and Halesworth-based pyrotechnics company Shell Shock. 

The installation will incorporate words from a newly commissioned poem by award-winning poet George Szirtes. Lit by flame and pyrotechnics, it will light up the winter sky and send out a message of hope and it will be filmed on south beach lighting up the winter sky.

Finally, the solstice sunrise will be streamed live from 7.40am on the shortest day - December 21.

Genevieve Christie, one of First Light’s directors said: “We are very excited to be able to offer this collection of online performances to mark the end of what has been a difficult year.

"The winter solstice heralds the restarting cycle of the seasons, reminding us that winter is not forever, and life continues. Although it marks the shortest day, the solstice is also a time for renewal. 

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“We very much hope that all our performances will send an optimistic message to the Lowestoft community and beyond as we look towards the turn of year and a brighter future.”

Men with outstretched arms forming a circle

Rosemary Lee's Dusk Dance draws on traditions of men dancing together during the Winter Solstice - Credit: First Light

First Light Winter Solstice will feature performances of:  
The Light Returns, composed by Lowestoft folk hero, John Ward, celebrating First Light’s themes of day and night, the sea and the elements and the history and future of Lowestoft. The Rogue Shanty Buoys will also perform a version of the song and The Pakefield Singers will be joining in too.

Choreographer Rosemary Lee’s Dusk Dance is inspired by the folk traditions of men dancing together on the winter solstice. A trio of East Anglian young male dancers will perform the piece set against the falling night time sky over the North Sea. 

The final performance will be a storytelling event by Aldeburgh-based Wonderful Beast who will be revealing how ‘How Night Came from the Sea’, a magical story from Brazil, told by actor Hilary Greatorex with music by Sylvia Hallett.  

First Light – Winter Solstice can be viewed on the festival Facebook page from Sunday December 20.