If You Go Down to the Woods… Britain’s First Forest Festival

Tickets have just gone on sale for the UK’s first forest festival. That doesn’t mean a regular festival that happens to take place in a forest – it means a fest exploring the impact of forests themselves.

It’s called Timber, and it’s running from 6-8 July 2018 at Feanedock, a woodland site in the National Forest. The 200-square mile forest is spread across Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, and was the first forest to be created by human hands in England for over a millennium. Planted throughout the 1990s to regenerate the landscape scarred by the closure of the Midlands coalfields, it’s a pretty perfect choice for any festival aimed at discussing the impact of woodlands.

The event itself will bring together scientists, philosophers, writers, artists, and poets across its three days. There will be talks and discussions centring on the complex relationship between nature and humanity, plus torchlight processions, light projections, and immersive sound and art installations. And you’ll still find plenty of music. The full line-up isn’t set to be announced until early next year, but those who attend can look forward to three live music stages and DJ sets, plus more than a few campfire performances.

It’s a festival worked out between the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus, which has made a name for itself bringing a creative spin to popular outdoor events.

In the words of John Everitt, chief executive of the National Forest Company: “Timber is both a celebration and statement of intent: a celebration of how the National Forest has transformed 200 square miles of the English Midlands, and a statement of intent to create an international movement to champion forests. The festival will shine a spotlight on trees as a catalyst for change.”

Timber isn’t alone. What we see here is just one more link in a growing trend. Plenty of new festivals are springing up all across the country to focus on the debate of specific subjects instead of purely on music. We had the first Bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank observatory in 2016 to celebrate science, art, and technology – other notables have included Camp Wildfire, the two-day festival of bush craft and outdoor adventure, and Brainchild Festival, which looked at DIY culture and shined a light on the creative work of young people. Timber should be a welcome addition to their ranks, and one well worth keeping an eye on.