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Southend Festival is back for second year

30th May 2019
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

Southend Business Improvement District’s (BID) first Southend Festival was such a hit last summer that its organisers have announced that it will return, this year with a promise to be even ‘bigger and better’.

Spread over six weeks (14 June to 14 July 2019), the Southend Festival features a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, performances, gigs and workshops across the town centre and seafront.

In 2018, more than 100 performers, venues and artists collaborated to bring together the debut festival, with ambitions to create Essex’s own answer to the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

Opening on Friday 14 June, the 2019 Festival kicks off with a brand-new art trail, street theatre and live music. 

New artworks created by nearly 40 artists will be placed in 25 different locations – ranging from Greggs the Bakers, Waterstones bookshop, The Royals and The Victoria shopping centres, to Southend’s world-famous pier – giving art lovers a unique opportunity to track down these exciting paintings, sculptures, mixed media pieces and photographs in suitably quirky venues.

Paint Jamalso makes a welcome return, with some of Britain and Europe’s leading street and graffiti artists working with local people to bring vibrant, eye-catching designs to a number of sites throughout the town centre.

Music has been given greater emphasis in this year’s Festival and one of the most popular Indie bands of the 90’s will be rocking Chinnerys on Friday night (14 June). The Bluetones had a string of top ten hits, including Slight ReturnMarblehead Johnsonand Solomon Bites the Worm and are sure to play these and other fan-favourites during their stopover in Southend.

On Saturday 15 June, the Festival’s wildly popular comedy strand launches with Si Deaves at The Alex pub, in Alexandra Street.  Join Si as he tackles ‘inspiration’, fears of inadequacy, *that* drunk guy at the pub and much more in his official debut stand-up hour, Si’s Matters

Co-ordinated by Ross McGrane of Little Smash Comedy fame, this year’s programme is absolutely brimming with comedic talent, workshops, family events and podcasts. As Ross says: 

“The comedy side of The Southend Festival 2019 promises to be the biggest and best yet and will feature an abundance of exclusive Edinburgh Fringe Preview shows, from some of the biggest names in comedy alongside the abundance of local artists our town has to offer.”

One of the absolute highlights of Ross’ brilliant schedule of talent is Simon Brodkin AKA ‘Lee Nelson’.

Star of TV and countless sell-out tours and named ‘the world’s most famous blagger’ by one national newspaper, untameable prankster and acclaimed character comedian Brodkin has repeatedly hit the headlines with his high-profile stunts. Most famously he has handed (soon to be former) Prime Minister Theresa May a P45 form during her keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference and showered disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter with hundreds of dollar bills in bribe payments “for the North Korea 2026 World Cup bid”. Of his many characters, Simon is best known for his irrepressible, south London wide boy, Lee Nelson.

Other key aspects of the Festival involve a pop-up Flea Market (6 July) in, appropriately, Market Place, the first ever Sci-Fi Southend (15 June) in The Royals Shopping Centre, which promises to be the must-see event for all comic-book, gaming, movie and TV aficionados, plus Southend Pride (13- 20 July) which will be a riotous and joyous celebration of queer culture and recognition of LGBTIQA+ history. This summer’s Pride will be a week of arts, culture, literature, entertainment and music, culminating in the biggest Pride March Southend has ever seen.

Southend BID Chair, Dennis Baldry says:

“We first staged the Southend Festival as a showcase for all the fantastic creativity that exists here in Southend,”

“Some people gave us a bit of a ribbing for our lofty ambition to create an Essex-based rival to the Edinburgh Fringe but the jam-packed programme of comedy, art, performance and family-focused activities attracted thousands of people into the town centre and seafront. Every day there was a tangible buzz of excitement and such was the reaction that we had decided to reprise the Festival before last year’s maiden event had even finished”  

For more information about the Southend Festival, click on, like the Facebook page @VisitSouthendonSea, or [email protected] on Twitter.

IMAGE: Performer, Lottie Mollica