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When Rivers Meet - performing online for WinterFest

Brightlingsea WinterFest shines a beacon of hope

Brightlingsea WinterFest is to shine a beacon of hope for the town the February following one of the most difficult years in living memory.

The much-loved festival is to return with a series of mainly online events, but with its enduring focus on celebrating and promoting community spirit, creativity and wellbeing.

Music, art, spoken word and activities to promote mental and physical health will once again be at the heart of WinterFest, which has always aimed to banish winter blues, but this year will be bringing some desperately needed light in the ongoing struggle with the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint message, WinterFest founders Alix Sheppard and Dave Griffiths said: “Last year's WinterFest was a huge success, with a wide range of events throughout the town. During that time the people of Brightlingsea proved how resilient they could be, when the town was battered by storms and flooding. Soon afterwards lockdown reared its head and since then the town has been showing its strengths again in the face of the greatest struggle of our times. The community has pulled together and all sorts of people from many different backgrounds have done extraordinary things."

We are determined to reflect Brightlingsea's true spirit by ensuring that WinterFest still takes place this year, as it has done each February over the past six years. It won't be WinterFest as we have known it before, but it will still be a way of bringing the community together and lifting spirits, something that is needed now more than ever."

For the online programme, Brightlingsea's rising stars, When Rivers Meet, who now have an international fan base, will be staging a concert on February 19, which will be a pay-to-view event to raise funds for the WinterFest Wellbeing Fund. The fund supports local people and helps them to improve their mental and physical good health. WinterFest's great friend, the poet and musician Martin Newell, has agreed to be a headline act again and his concert will also be staged online. A comedy event and acoustic night are also planned for the 2021 online programme and, for the first time, WinterFest will have its own dedicated YouTube presence.

Among the online events taking place are a photography workshop with local photographer Colm O'Laoi, talks on mental health, tips on how to get a job and develop employment skills, a Wellbeing day of fitness classes and yoga, a pop quiz hosted by local councillor Mick  Barry, and a Town Flips Out' pancake challenge, where households can link together online on Shrove Tuesday.

WinterFest is linking with Brightlingsea Regent Football Cub which is running an exercise challenge, including a trail to find Brightlingsea gates, and the Brightlingsea Lockdown Trail group will be urging people to light up the town with White Lights for WinterFest during February in any way they can.

A recipe book featuring feelgood food is being compiled and WinterFest wants to encourage local people and businesses to contribute their favourite recipes by e mailing them to Dave Griffiths at [email protected]. If a business submits a recipe, they can mention how it applies to them, for example you can buy most of the ingredients from their shop. All contributors can add a short piece explaining why they have chosen the recipe.

“We are determined to reflect Brightlingsea's true spirit by ensuring that WinterFest still takes place this year, as it has done each February over the past six years. It won't be WinterFest as we have known it before, but it will still be a way of bringing the community together and lifting spirits, something that is needed now more than ever," said Dave and Alix.

•For more information, see the WinterFest website. Events are being added all the time in the run up to February, so keep looking!

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