Essex Festivals

Listed below are a wide range of art and music festivals across Essex. We also have a separate food and drink festivals in Essex page, and if you are wanting beer festivals visit our sister site Essex Real Ale.

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Horror on Sea Film Festival
22nd January 2016 – 31st January 2016
Are you feeling brave? The be off to Southend for their Horror-on-Sea Film Festival from . They say : “ Southend, the horror never ends – or, rather, it lasts for two whole weekends!” The first weekend is based at the Park Inn Palace Hotel, and the second at The White Bus Cinema. Prices are scarily cheap!
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Words in Walden Spring Festival 2016
Saffron Walden
Feb/March tba 2015
More details when available.
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2nd Essex Delta Blues Festival
The Bassment, Chelmsford CM1 1HZ
Saturday 12th March 2016
A 12-hour blues marathon with 18 acts on two stages – the Bands Stage and The Acoustic Stage.
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Essex Book Festival.
Various locations
Throughout March 2016
“Highlights include appearances by
)ver 100 authors including Louis de Bernières, Vince Cable, Helen Dunmore, and A.N. Wilson. There’s a ‘Golden Age of Crime Weekend’, a ‘Golden Age Classics Movie Night’, plus a 1940s-flavoured ‘Criminally Good Afternoon Tea’ to celebrate Mother’s Day in style.
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Southend Film Festival 2016 
26th May 2016 to 30th My 2016
British films, world cinema, classics, documentaries, children’s films, audience favourites and more.
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Essex Summer of Art
Summer 2016
More details about the eighth Summer of Art which will showcases artists from across the county when available.


Leigh Art Trail
Various locations across Leigh
June 2016
more details when available
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Harlow Festival
June 2016
No event in 2015 but a bigger event promised for 2016. More details when available.
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Big Sunday
Various locations in Colchester
Sunday 19th June 2016
“A festival of dance, comedy, theatre, bands, food, stalls, poetry, film and midsummer mayhem in and around Firstsite, The Waiting Room, The Minories and many of the local pubs and bars.”
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Thaxted Festival
Thaxted Church, Thaxted
Friday 24th June 2016 to Sunday 17th July 2016 (weekends only).
“The 2016 Thaxted Festival will run from Friday 24 June to Sunday 17 July, marking the centenary of the first concerts to be held in Thaxted Parish Church, organised at Whitsuntide 1916 by Gustav Holst.”
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Maldon Arts Festival
June/July 2016
More details when available.
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Harwich Festival of the Arts
24th June 2016 – 3rd July 2016
“HF16 will celebrate local talent and the unique beauty of our landscape, history and heritage while also bringing in performances from internationally acclaimed artists to provide a wonderful mix of new and challenging work with the more familiar.”
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Burnham Art Trail
Various across Burnham
June 2016
more details when available
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The 3foot People Festival
Hylands Park
June/July 2016
An enormous outdoor festival for young children – it sells out, so book well in advance.
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Leigh Folk Festival 2015
Various locations in Leigh
23rd – 26th June 2016
The largest free folk festival in the country – lots to see and do. More details when available.
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The Fling Festival
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ
July 2016.
A ‘unique summer festival of live music, cabaret and curiosity’. More details when available.
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Essex Pride
Central Park, Chelmsford
Saturday 9th July 2016 – midday til late.
More than just a huge party – it inspires the community to embrace equality There’ll be a chance to watch fantastic live entertainment. Listen to great bands, discover services provided by local groups, browse the market stalls enjoy delicious food and drink and meet new friends
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Bures Music Festival
6th July 2016 – 10th July 2016
A wide range of music, and much more…
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Brentwood Festival
Brentwood Centre
15th – 17th July 2016
First headliner announced : The Boomtown Rats feat Bob Geldof.
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Village Green Southend 2016
Chalkwell Park, Southend
9th July 2016.
Musical highlights include …
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Roman River Summer Music Festival
Various locations
7th – 10th July 2016
To whet your appetite for the autumn festival a short summer series of classical music.
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Brownstock 2016
Stow Maries
8th – 10th July 2016
The family-run music event in Stow Maries going from strength to strength!
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Harwich Sea Festival and Lifeboat Day
July 2016
We had had a great time there in 2012 – click here for our article, with pix. Harwich.
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Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival
Various Locations
Friday 22nd July 2016 and Saturday 30th July 2016.
A number of authors covering a wide range of ages, the events take place at several locations across the town, and tickets will go on sale on 19th January 2016.
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Barleylands Farm, Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD
Saturday 23rd July 2016
“A one-day ukulele festival featuring The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.”
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Writtle Jazz and Blues Festival
Writtle Village Green and surrounding areas
Sunday 31st July 2016 – 12:00pm onwards
An inaugural event, a Jazz and Blues Festival – musicians and bands will be playing at various venues including The Bridge Street Lounge & Grill, Fulton’s Writtle, The Rose and Crown, The Wheatsheaf, The Village Hall and a Marquee on the green.
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Brightlingsea Free Music Festival
Various locations, Brightlingsea
Friday 5th August 2016 – Sunday 7th August 2016
Lineup TBA
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Shore Lane, Wrabfest
Saturday 6th August 2016, 11am -11pm
The Wrabness Village Summer Fete aka Wrabfest 2016. Children’s entertainment, tug of war, music, beer, food, fete games and much more.
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Lounging on the Lawn
Colchester Castle Park
Saturday 13th August 2016 and Sunday 14th August 2016. 11am to 6pm £3 entry
Music, drink and merriment.
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Colchester Free Festival
Castle Park, Colchester
August 2016
The festival isn’t taking place in 2016, due to an unsuccessful bid for funding, it was reported here in Feb 2016.
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Hatfield Forest
“Every September the Forest comes alive with the sound of music, buzzing of chainsaws, chopping of wood and laughter. This festival is a ‘must attend’ for many of our visitors, a time to catch up with friends and family in this beautiful setting.” More details when/if 2016 event announced.
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Roman River Music Festival
Various locations
15th September 2016 to 2nd October 2016
Running across a range of ecclesiastical and interesting locations in North Essex/South Suffolk we’ll bring you more details when available. We’ve enjoyed philharmonic voices in Dedham and the more contemporary Fiona Bevan in Colchester.
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Witham International Puppet Festival
Witham Town Centre
tba September 2016
More details when available.
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CITYDiversions Festival
Chelmsford City Centre and South Woodham Ferrers
September 2016
More details when available
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Essex Poetry Festival
tba Sept/Oct 2016
more details when available
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Estuary 2016
Tilbury, Gravesend, Southend, Est Tilbury, Isle of Grain
17th September 2016 to 2nd October 2016
“Metal presents, Estuary 2016, sixteen days of art, literature, music and film curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary. An eclectic programme of exhibitions, performance, conference and events pulls together powerful themes resonant to the place, its landscape, and communities”
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Colchester Comedy Festival
Varoius locations in Colchester
1st October 2016 to 16th October 2016
Amongst the bigger names there are shows from Rich Hall and Miles Jupp at the Mercury Theatre as well as Lucy Porter and Jo Caulfield at the Arts Centre.
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The Village Film Festival
Various locations – Dedham, East Bergholt, Langham, Polstead and Wivenhoe
bi-annual, so next one is 2017
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Words in Walden
Various locations in Saffron Walden
Throughout October
Annual literary festival with big names – ranging this year from Will Self to the wonderful Baroness Shirley Williams.
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Thurrock International Film Festival
Thameside Theatre
October 2016
More details when available
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Harwich International Sea Shanty Festival
Various locations in Harwich me hearties
Friday 7th October 2016 – Sunday 9th October 2016
We went there in 2014 and enjoyed it hugely – read our article, with pix and vid.
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Colchester Film Festival
firstsite, Colchester
October 2016
After 4 successful years, the Colchester Film Festival isn’t being run in 2016 (see link below)
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