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June 23 @ 11:50 am - 4:00 pm
  • FREE
  • Midsummer Madness
  • Young Essex

Midsummer Madness Family Fun Day

Performances, Workshops, Crafts and Storytelling
Midsummer Madness


Cressing Temple Barns, Witham Road
Braintree, Essex CM77 8PD
Free parking, free entry and lots of free activities.

Midsummer Madness Family Fun Day

Cressing Temple Barns, Witham Road, Braintree, Cressing, CM77 8PD

Sunday 23 June, 12 – 4pm

Pack your picnic and make a beeline for what promises to be a magical day at Cressing Temple Barns. Free parking, free entry and lots of free drop-in activities. All welcome, just come along, no need to book.

We also have a free theatre performance of Asha + The Troll by Matipo Arts, and a free interactive talk with Rob Eastaway, author or Much Ado About Numbers. Places for these are limited so booking is essential, see below for links.

Don’t miss the FREE ballet performance of Goldilocks by Let’s All Dance Ballet Company at 2.30pm. No booking needed – just come along.

Visit our Little Earthlings Mud Cafe for some mudlark delights. Discover some magical creatures, from dragons and trolls to unicorns and fairies with the Essex Year of Numbers, Explore Essex Summer Magic Trail.

There will also be workshops for young people for creative writing, exploring nature and songs, celebrating individuality, video game remixing and storytelling & performance. There is a small charge, £3 per young person, for these workshops and places are limited so booking is recommended. Full details below.



12.00 – 12.30pm, Asha + the Troll – Performance

With Matipo Arts

Asha + The Troll is a theatre performance for 5-8 year olds in which storytellers unfold a world of forests, friendship, puppetry, percussion, and… trolls! Follow Asha as she meets an unlikely friend and learns to love their differences.

Tickets: Free, booking required
Box Office: tickettailor.com

Have a go yourself – Matipo Arts will be running a Storytelling and Performance Workshop later in the day. More details in Workshop section below.


2.30 – 3.15pm Goldilocks: The Ballet by Let’s All Dance Ballet Company

Goldilocks Let's All Dance poster

Join Goldilocks, the girl with the lovely locks and her jar of magical honey, as she befriends a family of bears and teaches everyone the value of sharing. But watch out for Selfish Sid who, on hearing that the honey is magical, hatches a nasty plan to steal it from Goldilocks. With a 1940’s vibe, a variety of dance styles and plenty of bowls of delicious porridge, this ballet is just right!

A fabulously fun show for everyone ages 1 – 101.

Free, no booking required


3.00 – 4.00pm Much Ado About Numbers with Rob Eastaway

Rob Eastaway Much Ado About Numbers book cover

What’s the connection between Shakespeare and Numbers? A lot, as it turns out!

In this fun, interactive talk Rob Eastaway explores the surprising and entertaining ways that maths and numbers crop up in Shakespeare’s plays. Find out how Tudors multiplied, why Shakespeare never ended a line with the word orange, and why dice-playing was a serious hazard for the unwary. With historical asides about games, optics, astronomy, music and magic, you might never think about maths or Shakespeare the same way again.

Tickets: Free, booking required
Box Office: tickettailor.com


Fantastic and Free…

No need to book, just turn up. All welcome.

Aloo o! 12.30 – 4.00pm

Sade at Midsummer Madness

African storytelling, crafts, drumming and Mancala workshops with Sade Fadipe, Portia Mushambi and Margaret Omoniyi. Immerse yourself in the mesmerising music, colours and stories of amazing Africa. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


Pop-Up Storytelling Armchair, 12.00 – 4.oopm

Rob Jelly Storytelling Armchair at Midsummer Madness

Come along and hear a story or two. Hosted by BBC Essex’s Rob Jelly with different storytellers throughout the afternoon. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


This Land: The Book Project Exhibition, 12.00 – 4.00pm

Take a look at our This Land Giant Concertina Book created by school children across the county as they tell their story of what makes Essex special to them. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


This Land: Scribble Board, 12.00 – 4.00pm

Pop along to see artist/illustrator Michael Young and contribute to our Scribble Board, celebrating the rich diversity, heritage and natural environment that makes Essex special. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


Eco-crafts and Printing, 12.00 – 4.oopm


Including paper-making, ink-making, cork-printing, DIY notebooks, fairy headbands, willow-weaving and leaf-printing. Learn to Letterpress using an original Adana letterpress, with Colchester Makerspace. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


Little Earthlings Mud Cafe, 12.00 – 4.00pm

Mud Kitchen Midsummer Madness

Pop along to the Little Earthlings Mud Cafe where Jo Phillips will help you to make some mud-cakes, mud-pies and other gloriously muddy delights! Free, drop-in, no booking required.


Essex Explorers Summer Magic Trail

Help make the magic stronger…

The park rangers at Cressing Temple Barns are sure that magical creatures including fairies, trolls, and maybe even unicorns, live deep in the hidden corners of the Essex Country Parks. But some children have stopped believing in them! Can you find and count them on our Summer Magic trail to help make the magic stronger.

Remember to take your photo at the Summer Magic Trail selfie board and tag @essexbookfest.

The Summer Magic Trail is part of Essex Year of Numbers.

Fairy Door Trail

Find the Fairy Doors in the walled garden and add up the door numbers to find the magic number for their spell. Once you’ve added it up, shout out the number so that the fairies can hear you.


SOIL with Ian Mercer and Ros Mercer, 12.00 – 4.00pm

Soil is this planet’s thin surface layer where rocks and biology combine to recycle dead stuff back into life. Plants and animals – that includes you – depend upon minerals in the rocks underneath us. You have to ‘Eat Rock’!

The story of soil is the story of the survival of civilization – what we do to the soil we do to ourselves!

Join Ian Mercer and Ros Mercer, authors of Essex Rock: Geology Beneath the Landscape and discover the fascinating and surprising geology of our county. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


Pop-up Library Book Tent and Storytelling with Essex Library Service

Borrow a book, hear some stories and find out more about your local library service. Free, drop-in, no booking required.


The Poetry Shed

Write your own poem on our special Essex Book Festival typewriter. Free, drop-in, no booking required.

The Poetry Shed at Midsummer Madness




There is a small charge for these workshops and places are limited so booking is required.

12.00 – 1.00pm
Top Writing Tips Workshop with Sam Scott

For budding writers aged 11-16 years. Explore different writing techniques; how to create a believable character, how to build a plot arc and the importance of using varied vocabulary.

Tickets: £3 per young person, accompanying adult free
Box Office: eventbrite.co.uk


12.00 – 1.00pm & 2.30 – 3.30pm
Singing Like Larks Nature Workshop with Andrew Millham

Andrew Millham nature workshop

Uncover the remarkable relationship between birds and traditional folk music and try your hand at Forest School skills and bug-hunting in this family nature workshop. Andrew will also read from his book, Singing Like Larks, and sing accompanying songs. All ages welcome.

Tickets: £3 per young person, accompanying adult free
Box Office:
12.00pm eventbrite.co.uk
2.30pm eventbrite.co.uk


Game Changer Workshop with Signals

Transform classic video games into arcade quests for environmental action and climate change awareness. No previous coding experience required. All equipment provided. For ages 11-14 years.

Tickets: £3 per young person, accompanying adult free
Box Office: eventbrite.co.uk


1.30 – 2.30pm
Love My Skin Outside In with Leema Jabbar

Join this fun, inspiring and interactive session about celebrating individuality and showing kindness. Using fun games and simple experiments using colourful visuals from nature you’ll discover just how stunningly beautiful we all are both inside and out. For ages 6-10.

Tickets: £3 per young person, accompanying adult free
Box Office: eventbrite.co.uk


1.30 – 2.15pm
Matipo Art – Storytelling and Performance Workshop

Join Asha + The Troll’s creative team for 45 minutes of storytelling and performance! Participants will enter the Troll’s forest to create their own stories and explore elements from the show.

Tickets: £3 per young person, accompanying adult free
Box Office: eventbrite.co.uk


Cancelled: The Satellite Re-Wilding Workshop with Lily Hunter Green

Re-Wilding Workshop Materials Midsummer Madness

** This workshop has been cancelled. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. **

Viewing Google Earth satellite images of Essex, participants will then design their own healthy satellite landscape: including all of the essentials to attract wildlife and the creation of biodiverse and pollinator friendly ecosystems (water sources, woodlands/trees for shelter, wildflower strips around fields, healthy soil mounds for animals to inhabit etc).

The workshop will then involve the group collaborating on a large-scale 3D and textural satellite image: a ‘patchwork’ made out of redundant carpet tiles and other recycled found materials. The Satellite image of the local landscape created by the participants must be as biodiverse as possible. Using new Earth and Space technologies an image of the work will be taken from above using a drone. Free, drop-in, no booking required.



All those aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Photography and Filming

We will be filming and taking photographs at this event for promotional use, to post on our website and Social Media, and for documentation. If you do not want to be recorded please let the photographer know at the event.


The Book Project is kindly funded by Essex County Council Arts and Cultural Fund.
The Essex County Council Arts and Cultural Fund supports organisations and creative practitioners to deliver a broad and exciting range of work and activity to engage with and bring communities in Essex together.
The fund, which is part of Essex County Council’s Everyone’s Essex strategy, supports projects that help economic regeneration and benefit communities. Since launching in December 2021, it has supported over 70 arts and cultural events throughout the county for residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy.


Essex County Council logo red Arts and Cultural fund



Explore-Essex logo


Cressing Temple Barns


Heads2minds logo


Signals logo


Essex County Council Libraries logo




Cressing Temple Barns
Witham Road
Braintree, Essex CM77 8PD
+ Google Map


There are two disabled toilets on site. Level access to all areas apart from Stables, Bake House and Granary. A mobility scooter is available to loan if booked in advance.