Wealden Festival 2023: A Festival of Nature, Creativity and Local Produce
Returning to the enchanting setting of Boldshaves Garden near Woodchurch in Kent over two midsummer days on 24th and 25th June, this year’s Wealden Festival stands in celebration of the wonder of the natural world and the myriad of ways we respond to our surroundings through our ideas, imagination, the food we eat and our endless potential for creativity. It will shine a light on our strained relationship with the environment, on the ways in which we might better cherish the non-human world and, in so doing, nurture our own wellbeing.
The Festival will feature some of our foremost writers, acclaimed historians, ground-breaking scientists and much-loved poets. Speakers range from household names (Michael Morpurgo, Will Gompertz, A.C. Grayling) and award-winning nature writers (Dara McAnulty, Keggie Carew, Charles Foster, Mark Cocker) to bestselling historians and scientists (Tom Holland, Adam Rutherford).
Themes that the Festival will cover include motherhood (Lucy Jones), nutrition and mental health (Kimberley Wilson), our obsession with the seaside (Madeleine Bunting), climate change (Katie Holten, Gaia Vince) and farming (Sarah Langford, Philip Lymbery).
The Festival’s acclaimed children’s programme – designed to nurture the next generation’s love of nature and the outdoors – will feature children’s authors and illustrators, including Pari Thomson, Petr Horacek and Kent-based writers, Rebecca Smith and Lucy Strange. It will also offer an array of bushcraft and nature-inspired activities as well as outdoor cooking, foraging, arts and crafts sessions. To find out more or book tickets, view the programme here.
One of the highlights of the Festival is the setting itself. The ancient woodland surrounding the gardens at Boldshaves will once again be transformed into a haven of outdoor adventure for children and adults alike where trees are for climbing, food is foraged and stories are shared.
Creativity takes centre stage again with an extended programme of creative workshops. Develop your writing skills, take part in painting and pigment-making courses, discover new crafts from print-making, book-binding, etching and basket-weaving. Take your pick! Meanwhile, the Festival’s artist-in-residence for 2023, Helen Barnard (from Sissinghurst), will be exhibiting her own body of work inspired by Boldshaves Garden and the themes that the Festival represents.
Local artisans and producers abound with a dedicated makers market showcasing many of the south-east’s most original craftspeople and delicious food and drink. This year, stallholders include wine producers, street food vendors, artisan coffee roasters, wood carvers, plant nurseries, recycled textile products, heritage crafts and contemporary art and jewellery makers.
A series of expert-led workshops focusing on issues relating to sustainability and the environment will include tips on how to garden in an environmentally-friendly way, how to grow your own fruit, veg and mushrooms, how to mend and recycle clothes and even how to start your very own small-holding.
A family-friendly camping ground nestled amongst the fields and woodland at the Festival site offers boutique glamping options as well as pitches for tents. Sign up to the popular evening feast provided this year in collaboration with Faversham-based Wasted Kitchen and soak up the relaxed atmosphere in the peaceful setting.
In the words of Festival patron, Michael Morpurgo:
“To be at Wealden Festival, at Boldshaves, is to be with kindred spirits, telling our tales, talking our talk, singing our songs, listening and learning, eyes open and ears open, hearts open, to one another and to the wild and wondrous world about us.”