HARWICH hosted the "perfect" launch of the Essex Book Festival with sold out events and international artists and writers taking part.

The opening weekend of the festival saw two days of activities in Harwich at different locations.

Festival director, Ros Green, said: "It was a fabulous weekend.

"The Live Poetry Juke Box was a huge hit with children and adults, as was the launch of our county-wide Mothership Project, which was led by award-winning Tendring writer Wendy Constance and Debbie Bennett from the Essex Children's University - both of whom are helping us make 1000 origami boats to send to children in China as a gesture of friendship and to mark the Festival's 20th Birthday.

"Several events were sold out including our Arthur Ransome: The Legacy event in the 1912 Building, which included actress Sophie Neville talking about her role as Titty in the 1974 Swallows and Amazons film.

"We were also over-subscribed for David Whittle's Historic Harwich Tour - and that despite the challenging weather - and AL Kennedy's poignant author event in The Redoubt in The Kindertransport Exhibition."

The weekend drew in writers and artists from Germany, Holland, Italy, Syria, and Poland.

Ros added: "Everyone without exception bowled over by how wonderfully welcoming and fascinating Harwich is - none of them ever coming to the town before other than to get the ferry to Holland.

"In fact, one of the most common comments from participants and audience members alike was, 'we had no idea how amazing Harwich is'.

"In short, it was the perfect opening weekend for Essex Book Festival."

The festival will return to the town with local author Glynis Peter at Harwich Library on March 13.

For more information about the festival visit essexbookfestival.org.uk.