After months of preparation, Leigh Folk Arts’ alternative event, The Garden Gatherings, came and went in a flash, bringing people back #TogetherAgain for the first time since the Covid-19 Pandemic began.
Launching Southend Arts Festival, the weekend opened with a comedy extravaganza, in partnership with our newfound friends at Little Smash Comedy and Ross McGrane, with uplit trees that accented the beautiful backdrop and our home for the weekend in Leigh Library Gardens.
On Saturday, day two, the gardens hosted a sold-out show across two stages curated by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, which saw afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi and Sam Duckworth debut a new collaboration, as well as some old favourites from Chronicles of a Bohemium Teenager, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
Finally, the Garden Gatherings closed the weekend with a free community festival – attended by an estimated 3,000 people – with glorious sunshine filling the skies overhead. The entire park was awash with live music, the smell of incredible independent food traders and the sound of children enjoying workshops and entertainment hosted by Metal. A Maker’s Market of boutique handcrafted items was on offer from macrame to handmade soaps, ethical beauty products, to artwork, photography and pottery.
The entire event was organised and run by a dedicated team of volunteers, who worked closely with Southend Borough Council’s Culture & Tourism and Parks departments to bring the event to life.
Neil Harding, Chairman of Leigh Folk Arts, said:
“Seeing the community, musicians and performers back together again was such a delight, and it was our honour to launch the new Southend Arts Festival. As a small community charity, the last 18 months have been particularly difficult, but thanks to the support of local residents, businesses and organisations who worked with us to pull the weekend off – to great success – we are firmly back on our feet.”
A big thank you all the musicians and performers from across the weekend, and local residents, to BBC Introducing in Essex and Jake Peach for putting forward a number of Essex’s finest up and coming talent to play across the weekend (hear highlights and interviews on BBC Essex on Saturday from 8pm). Our thanks is extended to Maple Pro Audio for outstanding sound production, to our sponsors Leigh-on-Sea Brewery, Rossi’s, Atlantic Pacific Global Logistics, sixredsquares and Revive.Digital and our partners Metal Southend, Little Smash Comedy, Leigh Music Co., Morley’s Music Academy, Leigh Road Baptist Church, Myles Hire, Big Yellow Self Storage and Southend TUC, and of course our team our incredible volunteers. Without them, this event wouldn’t have happened.
Thanks to all those that donated across the weekend your support allow us to continue to put on these great events. There is still time to donate here: https://donorbox.org/festival-donation. A limited number of The Garden Gatherings T-shirts remain, which will become available on our webshop soon. Keep an eye on The Garden Gatherings and Leigh Folk Arts’ social media channels for photos and updates on future events.
A full photo gallery is available on our Facebook Page. More photos are being uploaded regularly to our new Flickr channel. Leigh Folk Arts will return with Leigh Folk Festival for its 30th anniversary in June 2022.