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A new 3 day festival for Southend

A new 3 day festival for Southend

Launching Southend Arts Festival, three ‘garden gatherings’ will take place over the weekend of 3-5 September, set within the intimate Leigh Library Gardens. Ticketed events on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 will be followed by a free-to-all community music and arts festival on Sunday 5 September. Across the weekend, BBC Introducing in Essex has teamed up with Leigh Folk Arts to select some of the county’s finest unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians.

A Huge Thanks to our sponsors and partners

BBC Intro
Metal Culture
Rossi Ice Cream
LOS Brewery
Little Smash Comedy
Atlantic Pacific
Revive Digital


£15 Tickets

Friday 3 Sept

An evening of side-splitting, open-air comedy; 8 comedians, craft beer and street food. Brought to you in partnership with our friends at Little Smash Comedy club.

£15 Tickets

Saturday 4 Sept

A line-up exclusively curated by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly that will culminate in the live debut of his new project, ‘The Confluence V1: Where two rivers meet’, plus special guests.

FREE Tickets

Sunday 5 Sept

A full day of live music, children’s entertainment, theatre, storytelling, wellness activities, spoken word, dancing, craft beer, street food and more!

Event info

The venue

Set within the picturesque Leigh Library Gardens (Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 2DA). Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September will see us take over a section of the upper gardens, to the east. The site will include the main stage, a smaller acoustic performance area, a fully stocked bar, food stands and temporary toilets. To gain entry to the site on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 tickets must be purchased in advance. Sunday sees the site expand to include the Lower Library Gardens where a second stage will be situated, as well as the west end of the upper gardens, complete with children’s activities, street art, a makers market, wellness activities and more.

Southend Arts Festival

The Garden Gatherings will mark the opening of the Southend Arts Festival, a two week series of live events. Hosted by organisations and creatives from across the town, Southend Arts Festival will welcome back audiences to community events, supported by Southend Borough Council.

Alcohol Rules

In the interest of safety, reducing waste. to leave no trace and look after the park environment, Leigh Folk Festival is a glass-free zone, with our bar serving drinks hard plastics. More information will be released soon on our cup deposit scheme.

Members of the public are strongly discouraged from bringing any alcohol in glass and for ticketed events will be subject to search upon entry. There will be glass amnesty points, and opportunities to decant into plastics at an additional charge.

You are welcome to bring sealed soft drinks and food. No alcohol will be able to be brought into the park on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September, with bag checks in place.

Tickets and entry

Tickets will be required for entry on Friday 3 and Saturday 4. Tickets have to be purchased in advance via our ticketing partner Music Glue. At this stage, no tickets will be available to purchase at the gate. Please note that Friday 3 and Saturday 4 are 16+ events anyone below the age of 16 MUST be accompanied by an adult 18+

Entry will be free on Sunday 5, with no tickets required.

There will be random spot checks by our security team at the gate for the purposes of locating and removing any Prohibited Item.

Ticket holders will be required to abide by any government safety restrictions including but not limited to Covid Certificates to gain entry to the venue.


There will be no parking available at the venue, we therefore strongly advise all attendees to travel by public transport.

The C2C line train from London Fenchurch Street is the nearest train service, with Leigh-on-Sea Train Station being the nearest stop. Alternatively, if on the Greater Anglian line from Liverpool Street, once in central Southend you can take an onward bus or take the short 5-minute walk to Southend Central station London bound to Leigh using C2C.

Leigh Broadway is serviced by the following bus routes, First Bus 26 and Essex & Suffolk DaRT 3. Alternatively, Arriva 3 and First Bus 28 stop on London Road which is just a short walk away.

If you are travelling by car the closest car park is near Leigh Community Station (subject to if a Covid-19 testing centre is still in place) or Leigh Train Station.


Leigh Library Gardens is mainly grass underfoot, however, the park does have a limited series of pavements within it. Lower Library Gardens is only accessible for wheelchair users through the main park gates on Broadway West. Please note the ground underfoot can be very uneven in the Lower Gardens.


Please find responses below to some of the questions that people have surrounding the event, the venue and tickets.

Based on the current guidance and planned reopening timeline, this event will not be socially distanced, however, the safety of performers, audience members and crew is paramount to Leigh Folk Arts, and suitable Covid-19 mitigation measures will be in place, such as face coverings in certain areas, track and trace, venue check-in, sanitisation points etc. We continue to monitor advice published for live events and festivals and will respond accordingly as additional information becomes available and will follow all guidance and advice at the time of the event.

The comedy event we would advise could contain potentially adult-humour; on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September no under 16s will be permitted entry without accompaniment from an adult aged 18 or over, a maximum of 4 persons aged 15 and under will be allowed entry with each adult (aged 18 or over). Sunday 5 September is an all-ages welcome family event.

Yes! We will have a selection of draught, craft, spirits and wine, as well as some food options to cater for all dietary requirements. Especially celebrating all things Leigh-on-Sea Brewery!

We will be providing toilet facilities inside the park for the duration of the event.

You are welcome to bring soft drinks and food. No alcohol will be able to be brought into the park on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September, with bag checks in place. A complete glass ban is in place across the whole of the Leigh Library Gardens for the entirety of the Garden Gatherings. We will be operating a Challenge 25 policy, should you be lucky enough to look under 25!

For ticketed events, due to limited space, picnicking areas are not permitted. You are welcome to bring your own food and soft drinks (no glass), however no alcoholic beverages will be permitted to be brought into the park.

The following items will not be permitted: Chinese lanterns; candles; paraffin lamps; sound systems; generators; BBQs; drones; laser pens; selfie sticks; all illegal drugs and psychoactive substances; compressed gas containers; aerosols; flares; air horns; flag sticks; banners, signs or materials displaying political, religious, offensive or race-related messages, slogans or images; any item that an Authorised Person considers dangerous; animals (other than guide dogs) are not permitted only for ticketed events. Any Prohibited Items may be removed, confiscated and/or destroyed even if the item itself is not illegal without compensation at the discretion of any Authorised Person.

There will be no cash machine on site, the closest ATM is located at Tesco Express on Leigh Broadway. Bars and food outlets on site will all be accepting card and cash payments.

For the Sunday event, you may come and go as you please! On Friday and Saturday re-entry to the park via a wristband system will be permitted at the discretion of our security team. Returning guests will be subject to bag searches.

Exact timings are to be confirmed, however for guidance: Friday 3: evening comedy performances, ending at 10pm; Saturday 4: 12pm - 7pm; Sunday 5: 11:30am - 7pm

No, Leigh Folk Festival has been cancelled for 2021, and would normally take place on the final full weekend in June. This event is an alternative and is being designed and created differently, utilising one of the staple venues that would normally form part of Leigh Folk Festival. It will return in 2022 for its 30th anniversary.

For nearly 30 years we have organised a multi-day, multi-disciplinary, multi-venue free festival, attended over the years by more than 250,000 people. The entire event is organised by a committee of volunteers - with so much uncertainty over Leigh Folk Festival’s usual dates of the last weekend in June, the decision was taken to hold off for one more year and return in 2022.

We are closing one-third of the park, including the two east entrances, from 0900hrs on Friday 3 September to 0700hrs on Sunday 5 September. The full park will reopen on Sunday 5 September at 0700hrs.

If you have any other questions not answered above please contact