Wealden 2023: A Festival of the Books, Ideas & the Outdoors for all

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Returning to the enchanting setting of Boldshaves Garden near Tenterden in Kent over two midsummer days on 24th and 25th June, this year's Wealden Festival offers a glorious celebration of nature and wellbeing, with a weekend full to the brim with wholesome outdoor events for all ages to enjoy.

The Festival will feature some of our foremost writers and thinkers with speakers ranging 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 a fabulous array of bushcraft and nature-inspired activities as well as arts and crafts sessions.

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 to be foraged and stories are to be shared.

A series of expert-led workshops focusing on issues relating to sustainability and the environment will include tips on how to garden in an nature-friendly way, how to grow and prepare your own food, how to mend and recycle well-loved items of clothing and even how to start your very own small-holding.

Creativity is once again at the heart of Wealden. Develop your writing skills, take part in painting and pigment-making courses, discover new crafts from print-making and book-binding to etching and basket-weaving. Take your pick! Meanwhile, the Festival’s artist-in-residence for 2023, Helen Barnard, will be exhibiting her own body of work inspired by Boldshaves Garden and the Festival programme itself.

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.

A family-friendly camping ground nestled amongst the fields and woodland at the Festival site offers boutique glamping, or the option to pitch a tent in a peaceful spot of your choosing. Evening festivities include a sumptuous evening feast - provided this year in collaboration with Faversham-based Wasted Kitchen - and, above all, the chance to unwind in good company within the unrivalled tranquillity of Boldshaves Garden.

Wealden Festival is a ground-breaking event that takes a unique look at the wonder of the world around us. 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.”

Published on 06 June 2023 by Neil del Strother

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