Let’s hope for a long hot summer that’s perfect for festivals of all kinds. Listed below are a wide range of festivals across the county (if you are wanting beer festivals, we have a separate beer festivals listing!).
Listings are free – fill in the Add an Event form to let us know about any festivals you are involved with or that you think should be on this list.
Colchester Comedy Festival
The first Colchester Comedy Festival is happening at various venues across the town from 18th April 2013 to 30th April 2013. They say : “With names such as Jimmy Carr, Richard Herring, Mitch Benn and Mark Steel these 12 days will be packed with shows,workshops, open mic slots, comedy competitions and our very own comedian in residence Terry Alderton.”
Southend Film Festival 2013
Running from Friday 3rd May to Monday 6th May 2013. The Gala Opening Night film will be at the Odeon, on Thursday 2nd May, showing ‘Borrowed Time’ with appearances by stars Phil Davis and Theo Barklem-Biggs and Juliet Oldfield, and Festival Patron Ray Winstone.
Harlow Festival 2013
Over 20 events celebrating arts, culture, music and heritage across Harlow from Thursday 23rd May 2013 – Sunday 30th June 2013. Their Facebook page says look out for the booklets!
Mersea Island Food Drink and Leisure Festival
The 2013 Mersea Island Food Drink and Leisure Festival is taking place on Saturday 25th May 2013 and Sunday 26th May 2013, 11:00am – 5:00pm. There’s food and drink, arts and crafts, entertainment, music and more.
Town to Port Festival
A celebration of The Hythe is taking place at King Edward’s Quay, The Hythe, Colchester, on Saturday 25th May 2013, starting at 11pm. Music, arts and other activities throughout the day, including events on The Hythe itself.
Garden Film festival
The National Trust will be running its first outdoor film festival at Paycockes House in Coggeshall, from Saturday 25th May 2013 to Monday 27th May 2013. There’ll be a b-b-q and fire pits, as well as the films ‘Quartet’, ‘Gambit’ and ‘My House in Umbria’ on three consecutive evenings.
Rock for Havens Sake Music Festival
Taking place at The Mill Art & Events Centre, Bellingham Lane Rayleigh on Sunday 9th June 2013 The festival will be raising money for Havens Adult and Children’s Hospices, This year there will be 13 artists and bands playing all genres of music including jazz, rap, rock n roll and more. All day food, all day bar, all day music. An event for all the family.
Young Children’s Festival
Hollytrees Meadow, Castle Park, Colchester
Saturday 15th June 2013 10.30am – 4.00pm
Lots for little children to do, including workshops, arena displays, fun fair, face painting, bouncy castle and information stands for parents.
Thaxted Church, Thaxted
Taking place from 21st June to 14th July the glorious Thaxted Festival was first started by none other than Gustav Holst in 1913, the modern event began in 1980. To celebrate the centenary of another great composer Benjamin Britten, the theme for this year’s festival is “The Riches of British Music”. There will be performances by amongst others the Brandenburg Sinfonia Strings,Tenebrae who are a chamber choir, and the cellist Guy Johnston a former BBC Young Muscician of the Year who will be performing with the pianist Alasdair Beaston.
Victory Recreation Ground, Tollesbury,
22nd June 2013 Time: 11:00 – 21:00 Cost: £3
I think this might be one of the smallest festivals in Essex this summer, it might actually be a village fete, but they promise live music, a fun run, stalls, barbecue, Calvors bar, Pimms tent and face painting. So a fun afternoon in the sun.
Maldon Arts Festival
22nd June 2013 – 6th July 2013 Cost: Ticket prices vary
St Mary’s Church, Maldon and other venues
“There is something for everyone in this year’s festival; including mediaeval Italian song, Jazz, modern a cappella close harmony, fine chamber music, choral music, an art exhibition, history and opera and operetta.”
Saturday 22 to Sunday 23 June Wristbands £10 in advance/£15 on the door.
Central Park, Chelmsford
A weekend that is 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
Harwich Festival of the Arts
Running between the 26th June 2013 and 7th July 2013, the Harwich Festival of the Arts provides a range of events in differing locations – jazz, spoken word, classical, brass bands, piano, chamber music and more!
Leigh Folk Festival 2013
The Leigh Folk Festival 2013 is taking place between 27th June 2013 and 30th June 2013, with lots of fine music and also an evening of storytelling with a witchcraft theme. We had an all-too-brief first visit to the Leigh Folk Festival last year – read our article. We’re planning for more time there this year.
Colchester Food and Drink Festival
The Colchester Food and Drink Festival is taking place once again at Colchester Castle Park on Saturday 29th June 2013 and Sunday 30th June 2013.
Epping Festival 2013
Various events in Epping starting on Saturday 29th June 2013 (High St. Celebration Day) through to Sunday 7th July 2013 (Town Show at Stonards Hill Recreation Ground).
The 3foot People Festival
After a year off, The 3foot People Festival returns for its eighth year this summer. This is the largest outdoor festival exclusively for under 5s in the UK and this year it will take place for an extra day across four days from 1st to 4th July. Thousands of preschool children and their parents or carers will be overwhelmed with wonder as they experience this unique festival, in Central Park. Chelmsford. The beautiful village of tents, tepees and domes will host an array of playful activities to inspire and entertain,.
Bures Music Festival
The long-standing Bures festival is taking place between Wednesday 3rd July 2013 – Sunday 7th July 2013, with Choral, Jazz, Blues, a Bowie tribute band, Eddie and the Hot Rods (saw them in 1977!) and much more…
The Brentwood Festival is at the Brentwood Centre between Friday 5th July 2013 and Sunday 7th July 2013. There’s a funfair, music, beer festival and food – and it’s getting bigger each year.
Fling Festival 2013
After a year off, The Fling Festival of Assorted Amusements returns to Chelmsford’s Central Park this summer on Saturday 6th July 2013. At the last Fling in 2011, adults up to the age of 80+ enjoyed live music, stand-up comedy and cabaret alongside quirkier activities like adult storytelling, costume-making and burlesque classes.
Village Green Southend 2013
This year’s event in Southend is on Saturday 13th July 2013. Over 30,000 attended last year! More details when available.
Brightlingsea Free Music Festival
This year’s Free Music Festival in Brightlingsea is scheduled for Friday 2nd August 2013 to Sunday 4th August 2013. More details when available.
Five Parishes Show at Fingringhoe Ranges CO5 7LX on Sunday 4th August 11am – 5pm Adults £5, concessions £4, children £1. Traditional country show, now in its amazing 81st year, offering a great day out for all the family. Main ring entertainment throughout the day, including Medieval combat, birds of prey, dog displays, Suffolk punches, kites and much more. Large horticultural marquee, craft stalls, sideshows and inflatables, refreshments and licensed bar, horse show and exemption dog show. There is free parking and allocated disabled parking.
Saffron Walden Maze Festival
taking place at locations across the town from 16th to 19th August. Celebrating the two mazes in Saffron Walden – the turf maze on the Common, and the hedge maze in Bridge Gardens. This is a rather unique festival,
with lots of maze related events for all the family, including the chance to create your own maze on the Common
Once again at Hylands House in Chelmsford on Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th August.The biggest festival of all in Essex, one that will create all those special memories of summer and freedom.There’s another amazing line-up of acts this year, which is developing as the weeks go by.
Colchester Free Festival
Colchester Castle Park will hopefully be thronged this year (and drier!) on Saturday 24th August 2013. More details when available.
at the Edwardstone White Horse 23rd – 26th August. We’ve been to several festivals at the Whitehorse, you can read our two articles about them here and here. We’ve loved the beer, the music, the food and the laid back atmosphere. A great way to spend a summer weekend.
The family-run music event in Stow Maries going from strength to strength! Taking palce at Morris Farm on Friday 30th August 2013 to Sunday 1st September 2013. They promise a line-up to make other festivals jealous, with an appearance by DJ Mark Ronson
Cider and Wine Festival
Dedhamvalevineyard, Green Lane Boxted Colchester CO4 5TS
Sat 31st August 12noon till late Sun 1st September 12noon till 6pm FREE ENTRY and FREE CAMPING
There will be 20 ciders and local beers available. Plus food and live music all weekend. Kids entertainment
including bouncy castle, face painting and pottery painting. all beautiful countryside on the Essex/Suffolk borders e
Hatfield Forest is hosting its forest-based event on Friday 6th September 2013 to Sunday 8th September 2013. Music starts 4pm Friday, finishes 4pm Sunday. They say : “Join us again for our free annual festival celebrating the Forest with local music, craft and stalls with over 80 acts on two stages. Locally-sourced food, real ale and cider. New for 2013: Improved and increased camping experience; 50 Things Challenge?; Horse-drawn carriage rides.”
Colchester Oyster Festival
Colchester Castle Park hosts the annual Oyster Festival on Saturday 7th September 2013, a great festival to celebrate Colchester’s most famous food. More details to follow.
New Hall Vineyards 41st Annual English Wine Festival and Open Day
New Hall Vineyards in Purleigh, near Maldon are running their festival on Saturday 7th September 2013 and Sunday 8th September 2013 10:30 – 5:30. There’s a craft Fair with 40+ stands, art show, wine tastings, music, fire eater, story teller, dancing, children’s area, Wild Est Show, and more for children, etc etc! Adults £7 Children £1, adult entry fee includes tasting glass and the first 4 wine tastings free.
Roman River Music Festival
Running across a range of ecclesiastical and interesting locations in North Essex/South Suffolk between 21st September – 6th October 2013, we’ll bring you more details when available. We went to one event last year : click here for our article with some pix.
Harwich International Sea Shanty Festival
What do you do with a drunken sailor? Harwich between Friday 11th October 2013 and Sunday 13th October 2013 may well give you your answer. They say : “A mixture of free open air entertainment, concerts, music sessions, classic boats, pub sessions and singarounds during the festival weekend. Events take place throughout the old town of Harwich at venues including the Ha’penny Pier, Harwich Town Sailing Club, The Redoubt Fort, The New Bell Inn, The Alma, The Hanover and The Stingray, Samuel Pepys Wine Bar, Crown Post Restaurant, The Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club and on board classic boats.”
Colchester Film Festival
firstsite is hosting, between Friday 18th October 2013 and Sunday 20th October 2013, the Colchester Film Festival – an international short film festival showcasing some of the best short films from the UK and around the world as well as offering a programme of workshops, master classes and panel discussions from industry professionals for anyone wanting to learn more about filmmaking and the film industry.