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Suffolk Coast

Head to the Sunrise Coast for the best in landscape and culture

The Suffolk Coast encompasses a 60-mile stretch of heritage coastline, from Felixstowe to Lowestoft, of which much is officially listed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This picturesque region has long inspired the culturally inclined. Former Southwold resident George Orwell, lifted his pen-name from the river which flows through the county and joins the North Sea at Felixstowe. While seaside town Walberswick is home to many high profile actors, writers and directors, in part owing to its wild beach and sprawling dunes. Travel further inland and you’ll find the inspiration behind Ed Sheeran’s hit, Castle on the Hill, in the imposing shape of Framlingham Castle that towers over the singer/songwriter’s hometown.

As for some of the big events that take place across the east coast, the Aldeburgh Festival, as founded by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, and now presented at Snape Maltings (pictured), remains a highlight of the international orchestral music calendar. The June summer solstice is welcomed in Lowestoft, the UK’s most easterly point, by First Light: a free 24 hour festival on Suffolk’s finest sand beach. While, just a few miles down the coast, the Latitude Festival draws top-grade international talent and capacity crowds every July to the upper reaches of the A12.

Add to all this, some of the nation’s finest heathlands, sand dunes and reed banks; and a most memorable short break is guaranteed.

Choose Your Day…
First Light Festival
Snape Maltings
The Red House, Aldeburgh
Sutton Hoo
The Cut, Halesworth
Latitude Festival
Felixstowe Spa Pavilion
Felixstowe Book Festival
First Light Festival
Free 24-hour festival, spanning the summer solstice
and held on a mile-long sandy beach at the UK's most easterly point

Lowestoft’s First Light is a truly unique, 24-hour, multi-arts beach and beachfront free festival which, as the dawn breaks on the June summer solstice weekend, celebrates the UK’s first light of day at the nation’s most easterly point.

The inaugural event in 2019, which was devised in conjunction with Hemingway Design, attracted over 40,000 people, who met on the sand to learn, create, dance, eat, drink and be inspired by a top line up of DJs, musicians, yoga teachers, theatre makers, storytellers, orchestras and even professional sandcastle builders and a bunch of key scientists from the Natural History Museum.

When the live event (hopefully) returns in 2021, be sure to book your accommodation early. All the B&B and hotel rooms in the town were snapped up months in advance of the 2019 festival.

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Snape Maltings
Home of the world-famous Aldeburgh Festival
and some of the region's best scenery, galleries, eateries and retailers

As one of the world’s leading centres of music, Snape Maltings brings together a creative campus, an outstanding programme of concerts and events, and a wide range of independent shops, cafes and galleries – all set within a breathtaking expanse of reeds, water and sky on the Suffolk coast.

Snape Maltings grew out of the Aldeburgh Festival, as founded by composer Benjamin Britten and singer Peter Pears in 1948. Having outgrown its origins in the seaside town of Aldeburgh, Britten and Pears moved the festival to the former Victorian maltings on the River Alde, where it was opened as a performance space by the Queen in 1967.

After a £14 million investment by Aldeburgh Music in 2006, Snape Maltings was expanded to include several new studio and rehearsal spaces, and now counts no less than four performance venues – ranging from 70 to 830 capacity.

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The Red House, Aldeburgh
Discover the lives of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears
at the home they shared for two decades

 

The Red House in Aldeburgh was the home for nearly two decades of renowned British composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears.

Britten and Pears founded the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948 in the town’s Jubilee Hall until the celebrated concert series outgrew the space and moved to the nearby Snape Maltings in 1967.

As well as exploring Britten’s music, visitors to the house can find out more about his and Pears’ lives together.

The House, with its classic 1950s/60s interiors, is a mix of formal and cosy, with an eclectic range of books, art, and furniture. The large gardens are for wandering around and enjoying the peace and quiet of this beautiful corner of Suffolk.

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Sutton Hoo
Ancient burial site
fit for a king (and his ship)

Regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time (and soon to be the subject of a Hollywood movie starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes), Sutton Hoo sits within a 255-acre, National Trust run estate on the outskirts of Woodbridge on the River Deben.

The Anglo-Saxon burial site is made up of two early medieval cemeteries from the 6th to 7th centuries.

Discovered in the 1939 at the site, was an undisturbed ship burial complete with a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of archaeological significance, of which most are now held by the British Museum in London.

The burial ship is believed to be the tomb of Rædwald, ruler of the Kingdom of East Anglia.

Following a year-long £4 million refurbishment, completed in the summer of 2019, Sutton Hoo is now home to a specially designed sculpture representing the Anglo-Saxon ship.

Mike Hopwood, National Trust Visitor Experience Project Manager, said of site and the new sculpture, “The Sutton Hoo story is about a unique burial, uncovering the so-called dark ages and finding out more about the English nation. It is a story about new settlers coming across the North Sea from their homelands to seek out new horizons. And it begins with the discovery of the ghostly outline of a ship.”

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The Cut, Halesworth
Local arts centre that punches above its weight
with its very own playwriting festival

Founded in 2003 within the dilapidated shell of the late 19th Century ‘New Cut Maltings’ building, The Cut now plays host to music, theatre, dance, comedy, cinema, workshops and art exhibitions.

This centre for arts in the community is also the home of INK, the UK’s leading festival for short plays for stage and radio.

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Latitude Festival
Leading big-name festival
incorporating the best of all the performing arts


Since launching in 2006, Latitude has become one of the most important stops on the European festival circuit.

Staged around the lakeside of the delightfully landscaped grounds of Henham Hall, near Southwold, Latitude features four stages of live music in addition to arenas hosting theatre, comedy, cabaret, poetry, politics, dance and literature.

Headliners over the years have included Arcade Fire, Damon Albarn, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Nick Cave and Kraftwerk.

The 2021 festival is scheduled to take place from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 July. Acts already announced include Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, First Aid Kit and Bastille.

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Felixstowe Spa Pavilion
Art deco gem of a theatre, café and restaurant
that attracts the big names to Felixstowe

The Felixstowe Spa Pavilion Theatre is an art deco gem right on the glorious south-facing Felixstowe Beach.

The Pavilion produces it’s own annual pantomime in partnership with the Dennis Lowe Theatre Company, as well as a range of musicals and plays.

It also promotes an extensive array of live music, comedy, ballet, drama and other performing arts from a huge variety of tours and artists, from Jimmy Carr to the Vienna Festival Ballet to Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

The theatre manages to survive without any public subsidy thanks to its two bar, café & restaurant areas, one with the most panoramic sea views imaginable, the other right next to the promenade, which are open all day, every day.

Ray Anderson, director of The Spa, says, “Our fabulous venue has graced the seafront in it’s current form for nearly 100 years, and is a true Suffolk icon even hosting the likes of Ed Sheeran long before his rise to stardom. We have a totally unique location, and encourage visitors all day, every day to our beautiful corner of the Seafront Gardens.”

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Felixstowe Book Festival
Informal and fun literary shindig
welcomes all to seaside town

Launched in 2013, the Felixstowe Book Festival has wowed audiences of all ages in the seaside town with talks, readings, book signings and workshops, featuring over 80 writers and musicians.

Founder Meg Reid says of the event, “We are a bright and breezy book festival with a diverse mix of events that cover everything from politics to sport, crime fiction to romance. We exist for those who always have their head buried in a book and those who haven’t yet fully experienced the wonder of reading.”

“A flourishing festival, with a programme to catch the imagination.” Author and festival patron, Esther Freud

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