A FESTIVAL returned for its second year as hundreds enjoyed the arts.

EA Festival was back at Castle Hedingham, featuring a range of star attractions in areas such as poetry, art, literature, and fashion amongst others.

Braintree and Witham Times: Welcome - EA Festival staff registering audience as they arrive at the Hedingham Castle venue

This year’s line-up features experts in literature, fashion, history, art and more.

The festival was created by Joanne Ooi last year, who said she wanted to “do something to create more connective tissue in the art and culture scene”.

Ticket sales increased by about 70 per cent, and attendees were full of praise for the event.

Braintree and Witham Times: Interview - Lea Ypi, author of 'Free - Coming of Age at the End of History', is interviewed on stage

Braintree and Witham Times: Watching - audience listening to the Lea Ypi talk

Speakers which took to the stage included one of the world's best-known wine authors, Hugh Johnson, regional celebrity and former lady-in-waiting Anne Glenconner, and renowned hypnotist and wellness expert Paul McKenna.

Music talents, mezzo-soprano Clare Presland and violinist Elly Suh took part in a double bill and some of the region’s best up-and-coming indie music singer-songwriters, Bessie Turner, Maya Law, and Mosiah Levi also performed.

Braintree and Witham Times: Sunshine - members of the audience take a break in the sunshine between the talks at thefestival

Braintree and Witham Times: On stage - View from the front as the audience gathers for the talk by Anne Glenconnor

Joanne said: “I think it was a giant success. We were blessed with gorgeous weather and got heaps of critical praise during the weekend and afterward.

“We had some sell-out shows, and I had several participants who returned because they had a good time, and that is something I am really proud of.

“We had a lot higher attendance than the first one, and a lot more people coming from outside the catchment.

“Obviously we launched right after the end of Covid, so we are in a much more favourable position now and it showed.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Audience - listening to the talk by Ann Glenconnor

Braintree and Witham Times: Enjoyment - Ann Glenconnor amuses everyone with her stories as she speaks at the EA Festival

Festival-goers were treated to many exhibitions of the arts, as well as performances, and food and drink throughout.

Joanne added: “The feedback was that this festival was really well organised. People felt well taken care of, that there was more than enough staff, and overall praise for the smoothness of the experience.

“The whole thing was just bigger and better than last year in every way, and I am sure we will keep going from strength to strength and continue at the castle next year.”