23 Days of Art, Music, Literature and Film

Estuary 2021, (22 May – 13 June 2021) is a large-scale arts festival curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary and the lives, landscapes and histories found there. Taking place over 23 days, the mix of large scale and intimate visual art, literature, music and film celebrates culture, creativity, recovery and renewal. Alongside an online discussion and events programme, the physical programme will explore and respond to powerful themes resonant to the Estuary, from the climate, to rebellion and imperial legacy.  

Re-framed in light of Covid-19, the festival invites visitors to take an epic walk along the stunning coastline of South Essex and North Kent encountering contemporary artworks and performance within the estuary landscape, historic sites and coastal towns. The estuary coastline as a continuous 107 mile walk was originally devised by local journalist Tom King, in his book Thames Estuary Trail: A Walk around the end of the World which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Inspired by King’s book the festival invites visitors to take part and explore the Estuary 2021 programme along the way, revealing new perspectives on well-known estuary landmarks and some of the lesser known estuary environments.  

The festival presents site-specific works in the landscape, as well as animating the wharfs, piers and high streets of estuary towns including Southend, Chatham, and Gravesend. The programme will feature performance, including an immersive audio-visual performance; installation; immersive storytelling; GPS audio; murals, specific walks and tours.  

The online programme of discussion and events, brings together artists, scientists and activists from the estuary and beyond to audiences from around the world. A series of publications will reveal hidden architectural gems, celebrate the great literary heritage of the river, inspire new literary responses and provide maps and guides to walking the estuary. The Estuary 2021 website will display new artworks connected to the wider programme, including a film programme specially curated by Gareth Evans, and a series of artists’ podcasts released throughout the festival.

Estuary 2021 is led by a partnership between estuary-based arts organisations, Metal (South Essex) and Cement Fields (North Kent). The full 2021 programme will be announced in March 2021. Join our mailing list to be the first to hear Estuary 2021 news and announcements over the coming months.

Get Involved

If you are an artist, arts organisation, individual, school or community group there are a number of opportunities to get involved in Estuary 2021.

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Estuary 2021 offers an exciting opportunity to be part of the drive for change for the benefit of all who live, work and invest in our estuary communities.

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Estuary 2021 welcomes everyone and our artists and production teams have endeavoured to create programme that is accessible to all.

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We have identified the climate emergency as a key Estuary 2021 curatorial themes. Alongside this we have committed to reduce our planning and production climate impacts.

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Estuary 2021 builds on the success of Estuary 2016 which reached…

The archive programme from Estuary 2016 can still be viewed through this website HERE

'A festival that brilliantly matches the intention to the amazing site and constantly keeps culture and the community/social in perfect balance-so much so that I think anyone who encountered it will now think of the festival as much as the place(as part of the place) when the word Estuary comes to mind.'

Gareth Evans

Estuary 2021 is made possible by

Principal Partners

creative-estuary   ace

Major Partners

ecc uok thurrock thames_gateway selep medway  thames estuary   ebbsfleet    mayor locatekent kentcc gravesham uoe bas_coun   south_coun Here for Culture

Commissioning Partners

book_fest community_fund heritage_fund creative_coast bexleysalford fpg lesnes Essex2020Logo

Festival Partners

arts_human uni_south uni_oxford uni_glas send_pier pla opp_se henley c2c roh southeastern

Festival Supporters

essex_diversity   raddison   uber