Summer of Culture

Explore Essex is delighted to welcome you to the ‘Summer of Culture 2021'. Partnering with exciting arts and cultural organisations, the ‘Summer of Culture’ programme will be delivered through a broad series of events, talks and activities taking place throughout the county. Celebrate our environment and reconnect with the world around you through the Summer of Culture.


We’re pleased to confirm that our theme this year will be ‘the world around us’ – a topic which has become increasingly important to us all during the last year of restrictions, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme centres around three key strands; nature, climate, and people – and aims to highlight the importance of our connection with green spaces for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Our Summer of Culture partnered programme of events and activities aims to help you embrace the culture you’ve missed, whilst retaining positive connections with the natural world around us.

Read our ‘Summer of Culture 2021’ guide for free here.

Partnered Projects

Essex book festival

The Essex Book Festival

The Essex Book Festival, a stalwart of the events calendar, takes place every year. However, this year will bring about some exciting changes as the festival moves to the summer with a mix of online talks, competitions and an end of festival celebration at Cressing Temple Barns.

This year’s festival is very much a voyage of discovery, with 100 events, 40 venues and 200 writers and artists, alongside a Story Hunters Flash Fiction competition. Don't forget to sign up to one of four exclusive writing workshops taking places at these Explore Essex sites: Jaywick Martello Tower, Cressing Temple Barns, Danbury, and Hadleigh County Parks.

Find out more about the Essex Book Festival here.

Discover more on pages 14 and 15 of the Summer of Culture guide.

Essex Cultural Diversity Project

Chinese dancers

As part of the Summer of Culture, the Essex Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP) are launching a programme of free events to bring diverse communities closer to their local green spaces and country parks.

These events will offer people an opportunity to reconnect with their local communities and enjoy activities which support social and community wellbeing. A series of FREE outdoor taster sessions will be held from late June to August at Essex Country Parks, which will see park rangers provide tours and there will also be a variety of workshops and performances, all led by professional Essex-based cultural organisations.

As a registered charity, The Essex Cultural Diversity Project (EDCP) aims to raise awareness of race equality and cultural diversity via a programme of arts, culture and heritage projects throughout the county and beyond. Find out more here.

Find out more about how we're bringing communities together on pages 18 and 19 of the Summer of Culture guide.

The Beach of Dreams

Beach of dreams

Kinetika’s ‘Beach of Dreams’ project is a fabulous way to champion the Essex coast. A collaborative 500-mile walk from Lowestoft to Tilbury, the journey begins at sunrise in Lowestoft on Saturday 26 June, Summer Solstice, and finishes in Tilbury on Sunday 1 August 2021. The aim is to challenge people to consider these important environmental areas and help preserve them for the future and for our children and grandchildren.

Find out more about the 'Beach of Dreams' project here.

Read more about championing our coastline on pages 6 and 7 of the Summer of Culture guide.

Jaywick Martello Tower

As part of the Explore Essex Summer of Culture, we're excited to announce a new exhibition at Jaywick Martello Tower with artist, Jane Stewart.

During the early part of 2020 Jane Stewart undertook a journey around the north Essex coast, stopping at every beach she found. Working in collaboration with the sea, Jane created 15 large 'sea selfies', using the old photographic technique of cyanotype, allowing the sea to do its work while the image was developing.

Whilst doing this, Jane noted the effects of human interaction on the area and these findings, alongside the artwork, will be exhibited at Jaywick Martello Tower.

Artwork by Jane Stewart