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June 4, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • FREE
  • Workshop

A Living Almanac – Workshop

Marina Warner, Philip Terry and Adrian May
A Living Almanac


Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street
Colchester, CO1 1JH
Booking essential

Almanacs have provided knowledge and foreknowledge of important dates, beliefs, stories, portents and charms for centuries – calendars that offer an alternative form of time keeping.

Join us for the first of two workshop sessions, using words, images and music to build and grow a collective almanac, drawing on imagination and memory.


Venue: Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, CO1 1JH

Tickets: Free, booking required

Box Office: Book tickets via our eventbrite page

Date and time: Saturday 4th June, 12.00 – 4.00pm


There is a second, follow-on workshop taking place on Sunday 3rd July. We encourage participants to attend both workshops. Both workshops take place 12.00 – 4.00pm at Firstsite and are free to attend but booking is essential.


About Almanacs

Almanacs were the most popular form of printed publication for centuries, so much so that they were read to bits and not many survive. But the tradition goes on – eg Old Moore’s Almanac is still in circulation every year.

Almanacs come packed with knowledge and foreknowledge – of important dates, of beliefs and stories, portents and charms. They are like calendars, but they offer an alternative form of time-keeping, local and personal.

During the past two years, while we were all – or most of us – suspended in the anxiety of the pandemic, cut off from friends and strangers alike, almost everyone experienced time behaving strangely.

An almanac is a calendar but with a difference: it looks forward to the coming time and fills it with hopes and dreams. A living almanac, which we are proposing, will gather us all kinds of lore that is important for us now and in the near future. Days can be marked by such lore as local weather, tides, migrations of birds and other creatures, dates propitious for planting, important days such as birthdays.

Fantastical and prophetic material is also typical of an almanac – horoscopes, wonders, miracles, superstitions, the folkloric and the surreal. A fresh, original almanac – a Living Almanac – can make time’s wayward passing our own story, our own calendar.

This living almanac will belong to us who are making it, as we look forward and express what we hope for and want to remember and would like to happen. And also what we want to forestall or deflect. We live in the imaginary mapped out by long generations in the past (our days of the week still carry the names of Thor and Freya), so let’s make our own imaginary now, for the future!

We invite participants from the area to attend two workshop sessions, where we build and grow a collective almanac drawing on imagination and memory and using art, literature and music.

This Living Almanac would be liberating and enabling – a source of the joy that comes from assembling and creating together: effervescent collectivity. It also encourages individuals to view each day differently, breaking monotony, bringing new rituals or practices to life.


A Living Almanac is kindly funded by Colchester Borough Council


About the Artists and Writers

Artists and writers involved in The Living Almanac include Marina Warner, Philip Terry and Adrian May.

Marina Warner is a writer known for her work on fairy tales and storytelling, who has coordinated the workshops Stories in Transit.

Philip Terry is a poet and professor of creative writing, with his own research and creative projects focusing on Oulipian writing and methods, with word games and playfulness at the heart of his work.

Adrian May is a writer, songwriter and performer who has recently published Tradition in Creative Writing, a practical book that draws on literary and historical traditions, folk and song traditions, place and nature, and tradition and community.


Photo of Marina Warner © Dan Welldon
Photo of Sophie Herxheimer © John Stuttle


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Lewis Gardens, High Street
Colchester, CO1 1JH
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Hearing Loop: Firstsite does not have a hearing loop system in this room.

Essex Book Festival has a mobile Roger Pen hearing loop system, which needs to be booked by individuals in advance at least five days before the event. If you would like to use the Roger Pen email claire@essexbookfestival.org.uk