• TTDA - First Light Festival - Main stage

First Light Festival

First Light Festival, the unique free, 24-hour, non-stop multi-arts and science festival is returning to the Suffolk coast during the longest days of summer.

Taking place on Lowestoft’s sandy South Beach – the UK’s most easterly location and the first place to see daybreak – First Light begins at noon on Saturday 18 June and runs continuously until midday on Sunday 19 June. 

SUNLIGHT STAGE 

To launch the festival, a parade of banners made by schools and the community will wind its way along the promenade, ending at the Sunlight Stage. This is followed by a rousing, large-scale community performance of The Light Returns by local folk musician, John Ward, in celebration of Lowestoft’s history and the joy of open-air singing. This gives way to around-the-clock revelry across the festival site. 

The Sunlight Stage’s line-up includes an electrifying, cross-genre mix of music from bands, classical musicians and DJs. International drum and bass DJ, LTJ Bukem, headlines on Saturday evening. Other acts include DJ Les Spaine – the Godfather of UK Funk and former head of Motown UK, British jazz legend Andy Sheppard, Manchester’s jazz-funk collective Secret Night Gang, and Juanita Euka – upcoming Congolese vocalist and the London Afrobeat Collective’s frontwoman. 

To welcome dawn, there will be premiere performances: new music by revered composer Christopher Gunning entitled Dawn Light, and contemporary musician Nic Pendlebury’s new electric viola piece. Choral singing will also greet sunrise, and the winner of a new music contest, in partnership with BBC Introducing, Wild Paths and Catch 21 Records, will perform on the stage later that morning.

THE GARDENS STAGE

Located in a beautifully atmospheric setting amongst trees, the Gardens Stage offers an eclectic range of mostly acoustic musical performances. Echoing the distinct First Light experience, expect community ukulele playing, ambient sounds of the Lowestoft landscape, soulful sounds of the blues, and the ethereal qualities of the harp. 

BEACH CLUB

For those who want to dance the 24 hours away, the Beach Club offers an exciting line-up of national and regional DJs playing hip hop, dub, Latin beat, soul, Balearic, jazz and more. 

LTJ BUKEM AFTER PARTY 

For those seeking yet another late-night clubbing experience, Saturday night will also include 'Our House presents LTJ Bukem After Party' which is taking place in a seafront venue, yet to be disclosed.

EAST POINT PAVILION

The newly revamped East Point Pavilion will host emerging performers. The re-opening of the venue marks a milestone in the regeneration of Lowestoft’s South Beach by Hemingway Design. The Victoriana-style glass pavilion will eventually house independent street food traders, alongside barista coffee, craft beer, wine and cocktails and a year-round schedule of entertainment.

FIRST WORD ZONE

Curated by urban poet, Luke Wright, the First Word Zone offers a programme of poetry, spoken word, cabaret, theatre, comedy, open-mic and dance. Comedian Mark Thomas headlines the Zone with his show, Bus Pass Punk. Other acts include Luke Wright, Cecilia Knapp, Elvis McGonagall, Salena Godden, James McDermott, Polis Loizou, Mike Garry, Suki Silvertongue and Kate Fox. Theatre company, High Tide, will present work-in-progress by writers from the region.

SCREEN ON THE SAND

After sundown the beach cinema comes to life, showing the “beguiling” arthouse film, To the Moon; River – narrated by Willem Dafoe, it explores the timeless relationship between humanity and rivers; and the award-winning music documentary, Summer of Soul.

PLANET POSITIVE

Planet Positive is First Light’s new sustainability zone in partnership with the University of Essex, with leading thinkers and activities focusing on low carbon living, teenage climate activism and more. The Science Dome will be open for exploration with Natural History Museum, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science CEFAS and Lowestoft Museum.

ART INSTALLATIONS

Local artists and the public join forces to create temporary sculptures that mark special moments in the 24-hour timeline. These include Alexander Costello’s beach cairn; Arthur Harries’ new Skylon-like Spike installation which will light the night sky; Nick Ball’s big interactive 'orbs' and John Christie’s giant bicycle wheel sculpture; and the Pakefield Man by Tobias Ford makes a welcome return.

FORAGED FEASTS AND MORE

Acclaimed chef, Nicola Hordern, brings a delectable menu of foraged food, adding to the close-to-nature vibe. Feasts are £25 each, with dishes including fish stew, summer pudding, Spanish lamb and honey stew, Lowestoft kipper kedgeree, and vegan and vegetarian options. Other independent vendors will also be selling food and drink.

SUNRISE CRAFT AND WELLBEING

In the build-up to daybreak, people can create Nordic-inspired solstice garlands and lanterns in workshops. The Wellbeing in Waves programme offers yoga, a drum circle, ecstatic dance, hand massage and meditation. Then, the sky will burst into colour with a mass kite flying community event, First Kite, which embraces the natural elements.

SPORTING CHALLENGES

Two new charity sporting challenges will take place at dawn on Sunday. The ROC Coastal Trail is a half marathon for runners and walkers, and the ROC Coastal Sportive is a cycling challenge with two distance options: a 100-mile route or a 50-mile course. Sign up at www.runorcycleevents.com. 

FRIDAY NIGHT ON THE BEACH

New for 2022 is an extra night of DJ-ing and a screening of the 1927 silent film, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, accompanied by silent film pianist Stephen Horne. A foraged feast by acclaimed chef, Nicole Hordern, includes a sea vegetable salad, elderflower cordial cream, alexanders and fennel with sorbet, and wild greens and flowers. The fun starts at 7pm on Friday 17 June.

For those staying for the rest of the weekend, event tickets and camping and campervan pitches must be booked in advance.

WILD BEACH CAMPING

Wild camping and campervan pitches will be available on South Beach on Friday and Saturday nights with prices starting £40 per night for a four person tent. 

For more details, buy tickets and book camping and campervan pitches, visit www.firstlightfestival.com. 

TICKETED EVENTS

Select events are ticketed, please visit www.firstlightfestival.com for details.