A bigger-than-ever Brightlingsea WinterFest has begun a month of mostly free events and activities for all ages in the town.
The annual festival – set up to boost wellbeing and a sense of community – lists 47 arts, music, comedy, spoken word events running until early March.
There are concerts featuring everything from shanties to thrash metal, heritage and history exhibitions, a comedy night, walks, runs, craft events and workshops taking place in venues across the town.
WinterFest’s Wellbeing Day, on February 17 in Brightlingsea Sailing Club, offers the chance to try a host of craft activities such as lino printing or collage making, along with experts offering sessions of reiki, chair pilates, yoga, confidence coaching, gardening and more.
The organisation’s gala event, Music by Candlelight, sees St James’ Church turned into a nightclub for the night, with table seating, mood lighting and a host of local performers.
For the second year running, WinterFest incorporates the Brightlingsea Literary Festival, featuring book launches by local authors, writing workshops for children and adults, and a poetry, prose and prosecco evening at the Thames Estuary Lobster Hatchery.
WinterFest began in 2015 with the aim of brightening lives at a gloomy time of year. From the outset it has raised thousands of pounds for the mental health charity, Mid and North East Essex Mind.
Since 2019, money raised has also gone to the WinterFest Wellbeing Fund, which provides local individuals and familes with grants of up to £100 to pay for items or activities which promote physical or mental health and wellbeing. Community groups can also apply for grants of up to £250.
WinterFest leaflets are available in many local shops, with the most up-to-date event information available at www.brightlingseawinterfest.co.uk. The website also gives information about the Wellbeing Fund, with a form for grant applications.