It's time. After months of planning, this Saturday sees the eagerly awaited return of what’s become one of the most looked forward to community events of the year. Yes folks, three more sleeps, and Village Green is happening.

Unless you’ve just landed from Mars, you’ll already know it’s a quality day-long festival held in Chalkwell Park, bursting with attractions and activities of all kinds for all tastes and ages. For 2017 there’s been a new emphasis on comedy and food with the introduction of the Comedy Culinary Big Top - “a heady mix of culture, cooking and comedy for all ages, taste-buds and funny-bones” - along with a mass of music, art, kids fun, workshops, theatre and cultural event stages.

Topping the bill on the music side of the programme this year, are five of our very own, home-grown former Westcliff High School lads, who have gone on to become one of the best selling breakthrough acts across the world. They are Nothing But Thieves, who will be taking to the main stage. They’ll be joined by the likes of Brit Award winner Kate Nash and Get Cape.Wear Cape. Fly Despite Nothing But Thieves being from Southend, this young band rarely played on the local music scene before being signed to Sony Records and becoming pretty huge, so being able to see them come back to play on our doorsteps following their latest release and tour of America, is a bit of a treat, not to mention bargain.

Southend Standard:

Fall head over heels for Village Green

If the pop-rock-giants-in-the-making don’t appeal to your musical tastes, there’s an insanely diverse offering to be found on any number of the stages. Just plucking some names out of the air, they range from the likes of Electric Pyramid - a North London band who played with Queen last year (yes, the actual legendary Queen) - who’ll be bringing their brand of melodic rock to the Chalkwell Park Rooms, to the haunting melodies of festival favourites Ardyn, on the Village Green stage. Mim Suleiman, a fabulous singer from Zanzibar will bring African traditions and folklore to her lively performance at the Global Village stage. Mim will join forces with Heidi Heidelberg, an anarchic soprano musician and film composer working with classical, jazz, beatbox and rock influences. What a mix!

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite for a multi-cultural feast for the ears and eyes, drumming fans should be stoked to know that the amazing Abass Dodoo is also visiting the Global Village stage. If you don’t know his name, he is a top Ghanaian drummer who tours with Cream’s Ginger Baker and plays with Van Morrison. Get a load of that!

Meanwhile over at the Jazz Cafe (curated by jazz legend Digby Fairweather and The Jazz Centre UK) you’ve got a glittering programme of renowned jazz acts, such as the likes of Clare Foster and Shanti Jayasinha who’ll be wowing the crowds with their cool vocal and trumpet and flugelhorn combination. Hosted inside Chalkwell Hall – the beautiful Georgian house at the heart of the Festival site – the Cafe will be bringing you live jazz all day as well as a fantastic exhibition of jazz memorabilia from the Centre’s collections. The exhibition will open at 11am on Saturday and be on view to visitors for the following eight weeks.

Southend Standard:

Village Green

Alongside all these hot acts, some favourites on the Southend music scene, including Slim Pickings, the Phrogs, Primo Nelson, Longy and the Gospel Trash, 54 Plates, the Trusted, Holloway Road, Bait and Muertos, have been hand picked by a panel made up of well-known local gig curators (Chinnerys, Railway Hotel, Cool Thing Records and South Essex College) to play.

If you really like to keep your finger on the pulse of new music, you can get a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow at the Oak Stage, presented in partnership with SoSlam and South Essex College. There is where you will find the winner of the Essex Undiscovered solo competition, Katy Forkings from Chelmsford. This 16 year old girl delivers a beautiful blend of pop and country with a soulful voice and lyrics ahead of her young age. Another treat will come from talented brotherly duo Bavard from Leigh, aka guitarist Ben Jordan and vocalist Toby Jordan.

But enough about the music or we’ll be here forever. What else?

The Comedy Culinary tent certainly looks to be an interesting, innovative instalment. Brought to the festival in response to past Village Green audiences saying they’d like to see more food and more comedy there, well, they couldn’t have had their wishes granted any more literally.

For starters, you can see internationally acclaimed comedian George Egg (who also happens to be a rather fanatical self-taught cook with a somewhat anarchic approach to making meals) giving you a surreal and absurd mix of stand-up comedy and cooking. The main affair of the big top sees BAFTA award-winning comedian, broadcaster, journalist, and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli bring his cookery show, Chat Masala to the stage.

This pair will be served up with heaps of other comedy courses across the day, including the Comedy Club 4 Kids with comedy host Richard Sandling bringing together the best of the UK comedy circuit, keeping all their best jokes clean for children, “their toughest audience yet!”

Southend Standard:

Village Green 2016

For starters, you can see internationally acclaimed comedian George Egg (who also happens to be a rather fanatical self-taught cook with a somewhat anarchic approach to making meals) giving you a surreal and absurd mix of stand-up comedy and cooking. The main affair of the big top sees BAFTA award-winning comedian, broadcaster, journalist, and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli bring his cookery show, Chat Masala to the stage.

This pair will be served up with heaps of other comedy courses across the day, including the Comedy Club 4 Kids with comedy host Richard Sandling bringing together the best of the UK comedy circuit, keeping all their best jokes clean for children, “their toughest audience yet!”

More food can be found at the Farmer’s Market, featuring all sorts of artisan food purveyors, including the Big Bite Kitchen, in which Rupali Chotai serves up mouth-watering Indian vegetarian street food, Mark Whale’s delicious, healthy selection of mixed fruits and veg, granola and yoghurts. The Brown Bread Company will be there “because who doesn’t like bread, pastries, pies, and sausage rolls?” and the Muffin Makery in which Kat and Kelly will delight you with their muffins including free-from, vegan options and special take-home muffin mixtures.

Railing Against the Machine, which sees the railings of the games court in the park filled with visual art work, is just one of the dedicated art events included in the festival. An Art Car Boot Rally is a new market site for the festival this year, with artists, designers, vintage clothes stalls, fancy stationary, home made and hand made items for sale. There is also the March of the Makers area, where designers and makers will be demonstrating their skills and offering unique, hand made and one off pieces for sale, as well as activities and demonstrations include knitting and crochet, machine embroidery, ink marbling, silk painting, book binding and you can even cut a live recording onto a vinyl record.

Mini Green is a large programme in itself, aimed at the younger festival goer, and including all sorts from theatre to workshops.

Another incredibly exciting addition to this year, is the Grrrl Zine Fair, run by local artist Lu Williams. Grrrl Zine is an organisation that puts on events “celebrating DIY creativity with a political undercurrent”. At the forefront of its ethos is “the positive promotion of creative output made by women, LQBTQI and non binary people”. However the area “welcomes all genders, ages and abilities, priding itself on inclusivity”.

For Village Green, Grrrl is curating a fair with over 40 self publishers, art exhibitions, and a line up of some of the most exciting female fronted/LGBTQI bands and DJs.

Grrrl say they are also “collaborating with In Situ, a design collective who have built installations for Tate Modern and Somerset House. Together they will be building an immersive zine library with projections and a workshop space. This workshop space will host Arts Sisterhood UK, an arts therapy organisation, Shadow Sistxrs, a self defence and magic workshop, Portable Print Studio (where attendees can take away their own personalised tote bags) and guitar and drum workshops for beginners”. I think most people will agree, this sounds amazing.

The festival is subsidised with some Arts Council funding, meaning tickets prices are only: adult (over 18) £15 in advance including booking fee (£20 on the day); teen (11-17) £10 in advance including booking fee (£15 on the day) and child (10 and under) free.

Visit villagegreenfestival.com/tickets to book.