BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 15 July '19

Creative arts festival in the National Forest was an unforgettable celebration of nature

Main image: Andrew Allcock

‘The Best New Festival in the UK’ returned to the National Forest for the second time 05-07 July, in an unforgettable celebration of nature and world-class performances.

Timber Festival, organised by the National Forest Company and award-winning outdoor event producers Wild Rumpus, took place in the beautiful 70-acre woodland at Feanedock with an audience of 5,000 excited festivalgoers.

The lineup for 2019

This year’s lineup included captivating music sets from Welsh singer Gwenno, electro-ambient musician Hannah Peel, Californian Jesca Hoop, pop trio Stealing Sheep and foot-stomping folk troupe Sheelanigig, to name but a few.

Audiences also enjoyed a wealth of theatre, circus and dance, from an immersive theatre and dinner experience in B Arts’ Forest of Dreams to the jaw-dropping show Baron in The Trees from Lost in Translation Circus.

Thousands of crafty festivalgoers built their own cardboard society throughout the weekend with anarchic arts organisation Cardboardia. It was complete with a mine, miners and trees to reflect the area’s coal-mining heritage. They then took part in a procession around the festival site led by Balkan-folk fusion band The Baghdaddies.

Comedian Phill Jupitus took to the stage to share his favourite nature-related songs, whilst prolific radio presenter and avid rambler Stuart Maconie discussed his latest book The Long Road from Jarrow.

Further talks and debates ranged from a discussion with some of today’s young climate activists hosted by The Ecologist magazine, to a rousing talk from campaigners Extinction Rebellion and a lesson on re-wilding.

Skills, wellbeing and storytelling

Festivalgoers learnt a host of new skills including outdoor survival cooking, identifying trees, archery and impressive circus skills.

They also took to the chilled-out Shivelight area for wellbeing workshops, yoga sessions and forest bathing, and enjoyed time in the wood-fired hot tubs and the relaxing hammocks in the woodland library.

There was lots for families and children to get involved with, including giant versions of Guess Who, Scrabble and Ludo, storytelling around the campfire, a marble run through the trees, and the Hammer and Chisel area where they could have a go at using wood, hammers and nails to create their own structures.

Sustainability at Timber Fest

Sustainability is at the heart of Timber Festival. This year saw the introduction of compost toilets in the main festival arena, as well as a cycle ride from Birmingham to the festival with Red Fox Cycling.

Timber also continued its ban on the sale of plastic water bottles, straws and single-use sauce sachets, which left the site looking pristine as well as reducing the festival’s impact on the environment.

The site was left in an immaculate condition when campers left on Monday morning, with not a single tent left behind.

The National Forest

Timber Fest takes place in the National Forest – an environmentally led regeneration project that spans 200 square miles across parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire.

Working with communities, businesses and land owners, it is the first forest to be created at scale in England for over 1,000 years, and is an exemplar of imaginative and ambitious sustainable development.

Through the planting of trees, the National Forest transforms lives, the landscape and the economy, bringing all the benefits of trees and woodland near to where people live and work.

Since the early 1990s, nearly nine million trees have been planted, increasing forest cover from 6% to 21%, more than double the national average. In the heart of the Forest, where Feanedock is situated, forest cover has now reached 27%.

However, the story of the National Forest goes beyond the trees. This transformation inspires people and businesses to reconnect with nature and create a place to grow together. It creates a distinctive sense of place, a forest culture for the 21st century.

Outdoor arts

The National Forest is he perfect festival location for Wild Rumpus, which is marking its 10th year of creating extraordinary worlds and ambitious outdoor arts events.

This year’s programme includes Hinterlands Film Festival (Skipton, 16-19 May), Timber Festival (The National Forest, 5-7 July) and Just So Festival (Cheshire, 16-18 August).

Alongside producing large-scale events, Wild Rumpus runs an extensive volunteer and talent development programme working with performers, producers and programmers to shape a cultural environment where excellent outdoor work thrives.