Arts by the Sea Festival Announces Its Return For 2021

The 11th edition of the Bournemouth-based arts and culture extravaganza will now go ahead from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd October. Today it also reveals the new artistic theme for its inspiring and engaging 2021 programme: ‘Connect’.

The south-coast’s annual celebration of arts and culture Arts by the Sea Festival has announced it will return for another exciting instalment of inclusive art and performance over three days from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd October. Festival organisers at BCP Council and From The Fields in association with Arts Council England have also revealed that the theme running throughout its 2021 programme will be one of ‘Connect’. Following a year of restricted social interaction and limited access to much-needed arts and entertainment, the 11th edition of this free-to-attend festival will be most welcome indeed.

Covid restrictions allowing and with all events designed to be Covid-secure, the festival will take place in various outdoor spaces across Bournemouth’s beautiful town centre and seafront locations. Arts by the Sea 2021 will showcase a diverse array of largescale installations, music and performance, with particular emphasis on celebrating the work of the local artistic community as well as welcoming nationally acclaimed talent.

Guests at the 2021 festival can get lost in a world of creative and accessible activities that are suitable for all ages as the nation is once again able to make social connections with others.

The new ‘Connect’ theme was naturally born out of the major challenges experienced during the pandemic, with regards to maintaining social connections with others. COVID-19 created a newly troubling experience of isolation for some, while compounding a pre-existing epidemic of loneliness in the UK. Age UK predicts that by 2026, there will be 2 million people over 50 in England who will often feel lonely, having a dramatic impact on their wellbeing and quality of life. 

Not restricted to any age group, young people also suffered tremendously, experiencing negative effects on their mental health and wellbeing.

The Arts by the Sea 2021 festival programme will explore the concept of the human being as a fundamentally social creature—a tribal animal—while highlighting the importance of celebration, festivity and connecting with others. 

Arts by the Sea Creative Director Roxy Robinson commented, “after such a trying year for all of us, we are thrilled to be bringing back the much-loved, live elements of Arts by the Sea that were delivered online last year. Although it is not a full return to ‘business as usual’ for the festival in 2021, we are excited to be presenting a full performance and live music programme, alongside a series of breathtaking installation and digital media artworks, for all ages to enjoy”

While this year’s programme is yet to be announced, audiences can expect to witness and participate in another intriguing, exciting, and unique, carnivalesque celebration of art across many forms.

Against all the odds, Arts by the Sea 2020 took place in a restructured, socially distanced fashion to present a truly spectacular event. Highlights included the mesmerising light display ‘Sea of Light’ by Ithaca Studio, the fiery night-time landscape ‘The Fire Garden’ created by outdoor arts experts Walk The Plank, the poignant sea of flags by Luke Jerram on Sandbanks titled ‘In Memoriam’, and participatory events by local arts and wellbeing organisation CoCreate.

This year, Arts by the Sea has moved from the end of September to the beginning of October to extend the summer season and provide a spectacular finish to BCP Council’s June – September event programme – Festival Coast Live! As part of the programme, Arts by the Sea will be presenting a special programme of pop-up outdoor performances across town centres in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole throughout June to September 2021, showcasing the best in local talent and community performers.

Festival Director Andrea Francis said, “partnering up with Festival Coast Live! allows us to extend much further from our usual Bournemouth location, bringing a fantastic and diverse range of cultural performances to residents across the whole of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and supporting local artists at the same time.” 

The festival is keen to hear from contributors wishing to get involved; performers and community groups of all shapes and sizes, including musicians, circus performers, spoken word artists, dancers, installation artists and everything in between. Visit for more info. 

To stay tuned on forthcoming announcements from Arts by the Sea 2021, visit or follow @artsbythesea on social media.