FESTIVAL-GOERS basked in sunshine as Village Green returned for a sixth consecutive year in Chalkwell Park.

The one-day event, put on by Chalkwell-based arts provider Metal, is a showcase for artists from headliner Brit Award-winning Beth Orton to village choirs.

Eleven hours of entertainment, spread over more than 15 locations in the park, were enjoyed by more than 20,000 revellers.

Colette Bailey, artistic director, said: “The event went absolutely brilliantly, the park was full and the atmosphere was really friendly and positive.

We were delighted with how things went and the sun came out as well.

“We had 140 volunteers this year and we really could not have done it without them.”

The sun did not stay out all day and the clouds gathered to give a shower of rain during headliner Beth Orton’s set, but it did nothing to dampen spirits.

Highlights included Orton, Stanford-le-Hope act Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and Leigh resident Phil Jupitus, who recorded the Village Green stage crowd singing happy birthday to Wilko Johnson.

Theweird and wonderful side of the festival saw a fire-breathing mechanical dragon, a fake crocodile roaming the site and a stage run entirely by youngsters from Southend.

Revellers had to pay £10 for their tickets, which had previously been free.

Ms Bailey said the price hike was worth it.

She said: “It allowed us to be able to plan in advance roughly how many people would be there and make it more comfortable for people.

“Plus we had more events happening on the cricket pitch, so there was something for everybody.”

The festivities started on Friday, with a new event called the Next Generation – a mini- Village Green for school children.

The event gave young people from Southend a chance to showcase their music, film and visual art.

All infant, junior and secondary schools in the area were invited with more than 4,000 people taking part.