17 great things to do in Essex in June

Thaxted Festival

Thaxted Festival - Credit: Michael Bailie

Essex Life's pick of the top events across the county this month, from the return of live music and theatre to film, book and food festivals 

Words: Julian Read & Victoria Purcell

1. Jazz on a Summer Evening at RHS Hyde Hall
June 26

The Rotary Club of Wickford has hosted this musical event for 32 years to help raise vital funds for St Luke’s Hospice in Basildon. As part of RHS Hyde Hall, Hyde Hall Live (June 25-27) celebrates opening up after lockdown. Enjoy the Sunshine Kings Jazz band in the open-air environment with your picnic. From 6.15pm.The Hyde Hall Live line up also includes The Bluejays on Friday June 25 and Lord Toffingham on Sunday June 27.
RHS Hyde Hall CM3 8ET; 01245 402 114; rhs.org.uk

2. The Romford Film Festival
June 24-28

The Romford Film Festival, now in its fifth year, shows movies from first timers and established names on the independent film scene over a packed five-day event. Films on the line-up include Smile, a short horror/comedy silent film about a man in poverty finding work in the service industry; I'm An Electric Lampshade, an offbeat, heart-warming portrait of the world’s least likely rock star; Gone Viral, where a middle-aged man takes to social media during a global pandemic; and Lucas & Albert, a black comedy thriller about two ageing hitmen hired by a mysterious gangland boss for what could be their final job. 

READ MORE >>> Tendring could be 'the new Hollywood' says Essex actor & filmmaker

3. Essex Book Festival, various locations
June 6-August 29
Essex Book Festival 2021 will be a hybrid festival with both in-person and digital events. The programme, themed Words Matter, will feature some 200 speakers taking part in 100 events at 40 venues across Essex, from Jaywick Martello Tower to Talliston House & Gardens and Canvey Heights. The digital launch event is not to be missed. We Need To Talk About Essex Girls will see three feisty and fearless women from Essex, Sarah Perry, Syd Moore and Sadie Hasler, will dismantle stereotypes and reshape expectations in a candid and comic discussion. There will also be eight intriguing artist-led walks, taking the festival to the great outdoors with hosts including Tom King, James Canton and Gillian Darley.

READ MORE >>> Essex Book Festival gets the go ahead for 2021

Essex Book Festival 2021: Local author Tom King will take part

Essex author Tom King will take part in Essex Book Festival 2021 - Credit: courtesy Essex Book Festival

4. Octopus Ahoy!, various locations
From June 25

The Essex coast is set to be invaded by stunning sea creatures this summer as Octopus Ahoy! descends. The public art trail, a celebration of local art, history and community spirit across Tendring and wider Essex, marks 400 years (in 2020) since the historical voyage of the Mayflower ship to the new world, with Harwich’s own Christopher Jones at the helm, and 150 Years of Clacton on sea. The trail will feature 100 quirky octopus sculptures, including over 30 large, hand-decorated sculptures decorated by local professional artists. 

READ MORE >>> Essex set for octopus invasion with launch of new public art trail

5. Colchester Food & Drink Festival at Lower Castle Park
June 26-27

Now in its 17th successful year set in Colchester’s beautiful Castle Park, Colchester Food & Drink Festival will feature plenty of old favourites, as well as new stalls and products to tempt you. The Pikestaff Inn real ale bar will have lots of different ciders and cold lager (you can even take a four pint growler to drink onsite or take home), while a new bar serves prosecco and the Celebrity Chef Kitchen serves up free demos all day. There will be live music too. Picnics welcome. Dogs with responsible owners welcome. Free parking in Kings Meadow. Adults £5, under 14s free. Look out for Colchester Medieval Fayre from July 31-August 1 too.

6. Estuary 2021, various locations
Until June 13

Take a walk along the coastline of South Essex and North Kent and you will not only be met with stunning scenery, you may also encounter contemporary artworks and performance. Estuary 2021 is a festival of art on a big scale, encompassing not only large-scale visual art, but more intimate pieces celebrating culture and creativity merging art with literature, music and film. A second edition of Thames Estuary Trail: A Walk round the End of the World by Tom King will be published to coincide with festival.

7. A Vintage Day Out at Cressing Temple Barns
June 27

Rollback the years and join Helen Rollason Cancer Charity on June 27 for A Vintage Day Out. Hosted at the Grade I listed Cressing Temple Barns, near Braintree, expect to see a variety of vintage stalls including fashion, retro second-hand items, pop up hair and beauty parlours, kitchenalia, antiques and collectables. There will also be delicious food and drink, live music, children’s entertainment and over 200 classic cars and motorbikes will be on display. Tickets £6.
Witham Road, Cressing, Braintree CM77 8PD; helenrollason.org.uk

RNLI Frinton Open Gardens

RNLI Frinton Open Gardens - Credit: Courtesy of RNLI Frinton Open Gardens

8. NGS Open Gardens, various locations
Throughout summer

An amazing 98 Essex gardens are taking part in NGS Open Gardens this year. Susan Copeland, County Organiser for NGS Essex, opens her own garden, Wickets in Langley Upper Green, on June 27. Regular gardens that open through the year include Barnards Farm in Brentwood and Feeringbury Manor, while new gardens include Grove Lodge in Saffron Walden, a walled garden planted for high biodiversity (open by arrangement), and Bassetts, a fine two-acre garden in Little Baddow with good mixed planting and country views (open June 11).  

9. Tales of the Fanns Walking & Arts Festival
Until June 6
The Tales of the Fanns Walking & Arts Festival aims to connect local landscapes with heritage. The 185sq km of the Land of the Fanns spans towns and countryside in south west Essex and east London’s urban fringes. Local communities were invited to take part in walks in the Land of the Fanns specifically to uncover the untold stories, the local legends and hidden gems that enrich and enliven communities. The project recorded 100 stories, which formed the basis for a series of walks and tales, all beautifully illustrated with 100 silk flags, costumes and characters, as well as fascinating short films and a major essay by author and social historian Ken Worpole.
Find details of the walks at landofthefanns.org

10. Thaxted Festival at Thaxted Parish Church
June 24-27 & 1-4 July 

Haven’t we all missed live music? Thaxted Festival is hosting a timeless musical experience that you may not want to miss. Performing at the beautiful parish church in Thaxted, expect to see leading artists such as Howard Shelley and members of the London Mozart Players performing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, internationally-renowned vocal ensemble VOCES8, leading cellist Laura van der Heijden and one of jazz piano’s outstanding exponents, Darius Brubeck. 

11. Frinton Open Gardens
June 26

More glorious gardens to visit! On June 26, Frinton Open Gardens will be opening the garden gate from 10am to 4pm to at least eight diverse gardens, including the first nationally coordinated Royal National Lifeboat Institution Open Gardens. All gardens are within easy walking distance of each other and there will be the chance to purchase plants, find local artisan creations, learn about the RNLI’s legacy and hear a talk on bees. A ticket to view all gardens is £5 per adult and children under 16 are free. 

Essex farms will open to the public

Essex farms will open to the public - Credit: Courtesy of LEAF

12. LEAF Open Farm Sunday, various locations
June 27

Essex is home to some wonderful farms and to celebrate British farming and all it delivers, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Open Farm Sunday is hosting its annual farming open day on June 27. Essex farms involved include Wilkin & Sons and The Agricultural Science Unit in Saffron Walden. Each farming event is unique, with a range of activities from machinery display, nature walks, demonstrations, trailer rides and much more. 
Find local farms at farmsunday.org

13. Beeleigh Abbey Gardens Open Days, Maldon
June 4, 11 & 25

Fancy a wander around some beautiful gardens? This June, explore three acres of garden and experience roses at their best at Beeleigh Abbey Gardens. This is nature at its finest, surrounded by mature trees, water features and many other stunning sights. Adults £6, children aged 5-16 £2.50. Open 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Beeleigh Abbey Gardens, Abbey Turning, Maldon CM9 6LL; visitmaldon.co.uk/beeleighabbey

14. Treasure Island at Layer Marney Tower, Colchester
June 6

After being closed for so long, many production companies and theatres need our support, and the best way to do that is by booking to see a show. Here in Essex we are absolutely spoilt for choice by the fantastic venues in Essex and the brilliant shows they are hosting. Just one example is Treasure Island at the historical Layer Marney Tower. Join This is My Theatre theatre company on 6 June at 4pm as they share a swashbuckling tale that will be lifted from the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson’s much-loved novel and brought to life with the sea shanties and sword fights galore. 
East Court, Layer Marney CO5 9US; thisismytheatre.com

Treasure Island

Treasure Island - Credit: Courtesy of This is My Theatre

15. Guided walk around Sandylay & Moat Woods Nature Reserve
June 23 

Looking to embrace the fresh outdoors on a lovely summer evening? Chelmsford Local Group is hosting a guided circular walk around Essex Wildlife Trust’s Sandylay and Moat Woods Nature Reserve. Join them for a guided circular walk around the delightful reserve led by the volunteer warden. 7pm to 8.30pm.
Sandylay and Moat Woods Nature Reserve, Great Leighs CM3 1PS; essexwt.org.uk

16. A Table Top Sale Trail, Althorne
June 26

Have you just had a spring clean and are looking to sell unwanted items? St Andrew’s Church in Althorne is hosting a Table Top Sale, but this time in front of your house. All in aid of raising much-needed funds for the church repair. Open 11am to 3pm. Admission: £5 per table.
Fambridge Road, Althorne, Chelmsford; 01621 740795; crouchvalleychurches.com/st-andrew-althorne

17. The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District 
Until September 4

This exhibition at Epping Forest District Museum charts the story of Holocaust survivors sent to Holmehurst Hostel in Loughton and the staff that supported them. Discover video testimonies from the survivors and objects from the Jewish Museum and Imperial War Museum. Admission: Free. 
Epping Forest District Museum EN9 1EL; eppingforestdc.gov.uk



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