Camp 1 Sun 18 Aug - Fri 23 Aug 2024
Camp 2 Fri 23 Aug - Mon 26 Aug 2024
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Mersea Island Festival 2023 – Camper Info

Information published 14/08/23

Activities A to Z
Activity accessibility
Activity booking
Activity clothing
Activity equipment
Assistance on site
Beach, seawall and lake
Cash Facilities
Dinner on first night
Evening entertainment
Fire Alarm
Fire pits, camping stoves and disposable BBQ’s
First Aid
Going off site
High Tides
Kit List
Meal Times
Medication Storage
Phone Charging
Photos and videos
Smoking and vaping
Snack Shack
Toilets & Showers

Arrivals from 4.30pm: Please check in at Reception. You’ll be given full details of the programme and a wristband, and one of our volunteers will show you to where you’re staying.

The high tide is at 3pm on the first Sunday. It will have cleared the Strood (the road on to the island) by the time of arrivals. For the rest of the Festival it won’t affect your ability to get on and off the island.

For safety reasons, please use your hazards if driving on the grass during arrivals and departures.

Parking: After unloading, please leave your vehicle in the long stay car park and leave the short stay car park free for our day visitors. If you need close access to essential medical items, please speak to the Festival Co-ordinator.

Dinner on Sunday/Friday will be served from 6.30pm to 8pm in the Dining Hall. Please let us know if you’re running late. We’ve a party on the first night and our activity programme starts the next morning.

Our Village Leaders and other volunteers are helping to run the Festival and try to make sure everyone has a good time. If they’re not able to help you, they will know someone who can.

Fire Alarm: If you hear a fire alarm in one of the buildings, or six blasts on an air horn, please make your way towards the seawall and the assembly point along the fence.

If you see a fire, raise the alarm by shouting ‘FIRE’, using the air horn in your Village Marquee or by activating the nearest break glass call point.

First Aid: First Aid assistance is available via Reception. If needed overnight, contact the Duty Person via the radio or phone number on the counter. If you feel the situation warrants it, please call 999 and then inform the Duty Person.

The Festival makes sure that there are qualified first aiders on site to help anyone who might need urgent treatment. Beyond that we can provide details of the nearest pharmacist, medical practice or hospital.

Medication storage: Any medication that needs storing in a fridge can be done so in the First Aid Hut. Access is arranged via the staff in Reception.

Assistance on site: Your Village Leaders and the volunteers are there to help you if needed, or you can go to Reception. For non-medical assistance overnight, please go to your Village Leader.

Hoists: There are six accessible toilet and shower rooms on site and an accessible toilet. We have a shower table and two changing tables. One of the toilet and shower rooms has a ceiling hoist and there is a hoist for access to the swimming pool. We have several portable hoists for general use, but cannot allocate them to individuals. We do ask that visitors bring their own slings.

Going off site: Other than for a Festival activity, please sign out and then back in at Reception. We then won’t be looking for you should there be an emergency.

High Tides: These will be shown in the programme. None of the tides during the Festival are predicted to cover the Strood (the road to the island).

Smoking and Vaping: Smoking and vaping is not allowed anywhere on site other than in the area indicated by your Village Leader, or outside the Bar. Please use the cans provided for cigarette butts.

Photo and videos: Our volunteer Media team will be taking photos and video to compile a DVD of everything we get up to, and well as to use in promotional material. The DVD is shown on the last morning of each camp. If you do not wish us to use your image, please let Reception know. With your own photos, please respect that not everyone likes appearing on social media.

Dogs: Only assistance dogs can be brought to the Festival and prior notice needs to be given to the Festival Co-ordinator.

Beach, Seawall and Lake: These areas, beyond the gates and fences, are not part of the Festival site. However, access may be used as part of an Instructor-led activity. Please keep to the designated routes and help to keep the gates closed when not in use. Keep clear of the crumbling seawall and at low tide keep to the sand. The mud is very deep and sticky!

Fire pits, camping stoves and disposable BBQ’s: These are not allowed on the site.

Security of belongings: The Mersea Island Festival accepts no responsibility for the loss of valuable items during your time at the Festival. If you wish to store anything in the centre safe, please see the staff at Reception.

Cash facilities: There is no cashpoint machine or cashback facility on site. The nearest cashpoint is at Waldegraves Leisure Park (CO5 8SE), a 10-minute drive or 20-minute walk away. Google Maps

Departures: There’s no activities on the last day of each camp. They officially finish after we have watched the Festival DVD, taken some group photos and had lunch. While we hate to see you go…

  • Friday: Please arrange to leave by 2pm latest. The high tide that day won’t affect getting on and off the island.
  • Monday: Lunch is at 12noon. The high tide that day won’t affect getting on and off the island.

Drinks: Tea, coffee and squash are available in village marquees and the Dining Hall during the day and evening. All the cold taps outside are drinking water. There are vending machines in the Dining Hall and Main Hall lobby and a Tuck Shop is open during the day. The ‘Snack Shack’ is open each evening, selling non-alcoholic cocktails. Cash only. The Bar is open each evening and takes card and cash.

Laundry: There is a small laundry for you to do some emergency washing and drying. Washing tablets are available from Reception.

Meal Times: Breakfast is served from 8am to 9.30am and lunch from 12.30 to 1.30pm. Dinner is from 5.30pm to 6.30pm, with the exception of the first day.

Phone charging: Your mobile phone, power pack or other electronic device can be left and charged at Reception. You’ll be given a ticket which will need to be handed over when you collect your item. Please bring your charger and make sure the device is on silent.

Shop: From Reception there’s a Festival t-shirt and you can order a DVD for each camp. Add your name and address to the envelope provided and we’ll send you the DVD when it’s ready in the autumn. Essential toiletries are also available. If you need anything else, please ask. Card payments are accepted for transactions of £5 and over.

Snack Shack: Open each evening for when you’ve got the munchies, and run by our volunteers, the Shack sells hot food along with non-alcoholic cocktails. When it’s gone, it’s gone! Cash only.

Toilets and Showers: There are numerous toilet and showers on the site, including accessible facilities for those with disability. Please ask a Volunteer or at Reception if you can’t find what you need.

Wi-Fi: There is Wi-Fi available on the site, but it’s not great. Best signal will be near the veranda by the bar. The password will be available from Reception.

Wristbands: All campers get a Festival wristband on arrival and to be worn at all times. If you have a dietary requirement (Vegetarian, Gluten free etc.) you will also need a yellow one.


You’ll be given full details of the programme on your arrival. Every effort is made to deliver the activities in the programme, but they can be subject to change. Please keep an eye on the notice boards in your village, the Dining Hall and Reception.

Accessibility: There are a few activities that are not fully accessible, but our Instructor staff and Volunteers will do their best to get everyone involved where it is safe to do so. If you use a wheelchair, please ask at Reception about access for activities on the lake and beach.

Off-site activities marked with a W have wheelchair accessible transport (2 spaces).

Activity clothing: For most activities, participants should wear loose, comfortable clothing. Closed shoes – not sandals or flip-flops – must be worn for all activities on the land, in the sea or lake. For kayaking and paddleboarding, wear your swimwear and a t-shirt plus closed shoes. For the boat rides, wear clothes that can get wet, and closed shoes. You may wish to wear a waterproof top to keep out the wind – and wet! You can download the full suggested kit list HERE

Activity equipment: Any safety or other equipment required for an activity will be provided by the Instructors.

Activity booking: Booking is only required for offsite activities (crabbing, pitch & putt and fishing) and your act in the Camp Concert. It would be great to be able to offer everyone a place on offsite activities. Unfortunately, this is not possible due to the limitations of the activities and not the transport available. There may be spaces left on a departing minibus but it doesn’t mean there are spaces at the other end.

Places need to be booked in the Main Hall:
• Monday 10.30am for activities on Monday and Tuesday plus the Camp Concert
• Tuesday 12.30pm for activities on Wednesday and Thursday plus the Camp Concert
• Saturday 10am for activities at the weekend

When booking we need the name of each person going. To help ensure as many people have a chance to participate in these activities, 1 person can book up to 4 places on an activity.

For on-site activities, in some cases there is a limited number of places, as shown in the detailed programme. These are available on a first come, first served basis, or a managed system will be used if high demand.

Activities A-Z

Activities marked with a W are off-site and have wheelchair accessible transport (2 spaces).
Activities marked with a B need to be booked for.

Aerial Adventure: With helmet and harness, work your way around the aerial obstacle course. Unfortunately not all sessions are accessible to wheelchair users.

Aerobics: Have a gentle limber up each morning to get ready for the day.

Adapted Bikes: A range of bikes and trikes to try on our marked out track.

Adventure Course: Wear a helmet and work your way round an obstacle course under the watchful eye of an Instructor. Unfortunately this activity is not wheelchair accessible.

Archery: Our Instructors will help you try and hit the target, with the use of a standard or adapted bow.

Art & Craft Tent: A range of creative activities included encaustic wax painting and badge making.

Band Workshop: Come and have a go at being a rock star.

Beauty Workshop: Get yourself looking fabulous for the evening parties.

Biscuit Decoration Workshop (week): Have a go at decorating your own cookie. Can be eaten afterwards!

Boat Rides off the beach (week): Wade through the water (or get a lift) to get on the Rib for a quick ride on the estuary. Buoyancy aids are provided. Wear a waterproof top or clothes you can get wet – and closed shoes. Unfortunately the beach and boat are not fully wheelchair accessible, but we will do our best to get people on if safe to do so.

Boccia (week): A taster session in this inclusive sport, related to bowls and petanque.

Bookbus and Storytelling: The Essex Libraries staff will be here with their Bookbus to help you find a book for a quick read, and tell a story or two.

Bushcraft Workshop: Making and cooking over coals a variety of foods. Plus making keepsakes from natural sources to take away.

Camp Concert B: On the Wednesday and Saturday night there’s our Camp Concert –  our version of Britain’s Got Talent (though no judges). Please book your act for the Camp Concert on Monday morning, Tuesday lunchtime or Saturday morning, and look out for the running order to see when you’re on.

Canjo Workshop: Make a basic instrument out of a couple of pieces of wood and a tin can.

Caving: Climb (or be pulled) through our maze of pipes.

Circus Skills: Try your hand at juggling, plate spinning or maybe making a bubble or two.

Climbing: The instructors will help you climb the wall, or hoist yourself from your chair to the top.

Coastal Discovery: A chilled session of beach combing and art – and find out about local smugglers!

Crabbing in Brightlingsea B:  Take the minibus to the east of the island and after a walk along the seawall and beach, take the foot ferry for a short trip across the river to Brightlingsea. Catch as many crabs as you can before returning. Bring a waterproof and a sun hat. A buoyancy aid is provided. This trip is not accessible for wheelchairs. Booking required. Please note the time of departure is earlier than the West Mersea trip. For the 12.45pm trip, participants will be given priority to make a packed lunch in the Dining Hall to take with them.

Crabbing in West Mersea B W: Take the accessible minibus to the west of the island and crab off the jetty. Bring a waterproof and a sun hat. A buoyancy aid will be provided. Booking required. Please note the time of departure is later than the Brightlingsea trip.

Drumming Workshop: Our local tutor will lead you through a session and help you hit the beat on the African drums.

Evening Film: Watch a film or two on our large screen. Details of what’s showing each evening will be displayed in Reception in the afternoon.

Fishing B W (week): Travel by minibus to a nearby lake for an afternoon’s fishing. Wear something to keep out the wind and wet or keep off the sun. A buoyancy aid will be provided. Booking required. Accessible transport available.

Football Workshop (week): A local coach will help you try your football skills.

Giant Swing: Wearing helmet and harness, get strapped to the bar and pulled in the air, before letting yourself go. Please speak to the Centre Staff about the accessibility of this activity to wheelchair users.

Goalball (week): A team sport designed specifically for those with a vision impairment. Participants try to throw a ball with bells inside, in to the opponents’ goal.

Golden Boot Football Tournament (week): Our annual informal tournament for the coveted trophy. Speak to your Village Leader about joining or entering a team.

Handbell Ringing: Listen to a demonstration and then maybe have a go at creating a tune. Activity provided by the Stour Valley Handbell Ringers.

Judo: A qualified judo coach will take you through some basic, low moves to try on him and maybe a friend.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Try a sit-on kayak or paddleboard and make your way across the lake with friends. Wear your swimwear and a t-shirt plus closed shoes. A buoyancy aid and helmet will be provided.
To help ensure everyone takes part safely, all those wishing to try kayaking and paddleboarding, including wheelchair users, should first go to the containers beside archery to check in and receive their safety equipment. Access to the lake for wheelchairs is then available via the corner of the site by Team Swing. There is no access to the lake car park or toilets on Monday.

Pedal Karts: Take a spin around our marked out track.

Petting Zoo: Get up close to some exotic animals – and some that live a lot nearer to home.

Pitch & Putt B W: Travel by minibus to a nearby golf course for a session with a golf club and ball. Accessible transport available on some sessions.

Signing to Music (week): Crafty Drama are a Colchester-based group that promote inclusion and sign language through music and dance. Come and watch or maybe take part.

Singing Workshop (week): After a gentle warm up a local tutor will lead you in some simple songs to show off your vocal talent.

Steelpan Workshop (week): Listen to the sound of the Caribbean and then maybe have a go at playing a Steelpan

Swimming: The pool is 1m deep from end to end, It is only available at the time in the programme when a lifeguard will be present.

Trampolining: Local qualified coaches help you have a ‘low’ bounce on the trampoline – on your feet, your back or your bottom.

Ukulele Workshop (week): Essex Music Services will be running sessions for you to have a go at playing these smaller versions of a guitar. No experience required

Zipwire: Climb up inside the tower or be hoisted up the wall, then ‘zip’ to the end of the wire.

Evening Entertainment

First Sunday: Our ‘Welcome Party’. Catch up with old friends and meet new ones as you move to the music.
Monday: Hit the dancefloor for Big Jim’s Disco
Tuesday: Glitter & Glam Night – Celebrating ‘Glam Rock’ – wear something sparkly or glamorous. Doesn’t have to be a full outfit – could be just a hat or tie.
Wednesday & Saturday: Camp Concert – our legendary talent show.
Thursday & Sunday: On the last night of each camp we’re having a ‘Music Superstars’ party. Come as your favourite artist or get together with some friends to come as a band. Who will you be?
Friday: We’ll be having a Pirate Night! Wrap a scarf round your head, make yourself an eye patch, and practice your ‘Arrr’s!

If you have any questions, please see your Village Leader or the staff in Reception