Timber Festival in the National Forest launch 1st wave programme

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Timber Festival announces sensational first wave programme for 2020 3 - 5 July 2020 at Feanedock in the National Forest

Including: The Unthanks, Sam Lee, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Gary Stewart’s Graceland, Treetop Tightrope Spectacular, and more!

The organisers of Timber Festival are thrilled to announce the first wave of inspiring programming for Timber 2020, including world-class live music, exhilarating tree-top performances which will have audiences enthralled, and even a Poet Laureate turned woodland DJ. More programming will be announced in the new year. 

Created by the National Forest Company and award-winning festival producers Wild Rumpus, Timber takes place at Feanedock, on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border in the National Forest, from 3 - 5 July 2020. A celebration of trees and forests, Timber encourages audiences to re-examine their relationship with the natural world through carefully curated musical performances, installations, debates and workshops.

Enthralling live music 

Acclaimed Northumbrian folk group The Unthanks (Mount the Air; The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake; Lines) are the first music headliners to be announced, bringing their captivating, gentle and atmospheric voices to the Field Notes stage. There are no easy one-liners to capture who or what The Unthanks are; you might find them singing in a Tyneside folk club one night, and playing to 2000 Londoners the next, having performed to a primary school in the afternoon. 

Joining the music line-up is Mercury Prize nominated folk singer Sam Lee (The Fade in Time; More For to Rise; Ground of Its Own). Sam plays a unique role in the British music scene as a highly inventive and original singer, folk song interpreter, a passionate conservationist and a committed song collector. His forthcoming album Old Wow, due for release in January 2020, will be devoted to the magic and wonder of the natural world. As well as playing on the Field Notes stage, Sam will play a relaxed session around the woodland campfire in As The Crow Flies, Timber’s area which celebrates the wild of the woods. 

Gary Stewart (of Gary Stewart Band and Hope and Social) and his incredible 7-piece band will recreate Paul Simon’s landmark album in their incredible show Graceland. Expect to hear those magical songs Graceland, You Can Call Me Al and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. The album's captivating stories, distinctive harmonies and South African rhythms will be brought to life in front of you with no detail spared; from the layers of guitars and percussion, right down to the legendary bass solos and maybe even some token dance moves – if you’re lucky!

Top guests discuss their favourite nature-inspired music in Wilderness Tracks 

BBC Radio 4’s Geoff Bird will host the third series of Wilderness Tracks, in which he welcomes a range of guests from the worlds of music, literature and art for a chat about their top nature-inspired pieces of music. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who has recently announced the creation of the new Laurel Prize for environmental themed poetry, and double Grammy Award winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie will be two of the guests joining Wilderness Tracks in 2020. More guests will be announced in the new year.

Previous Wilderness Guests tracks guests include Phill Jupitus, Elizabeth Alker, Robert Macfarlane, Erland Cooper and Laura Barton. Listen back to the first series of the Wilderness Tracks podcast on the Timber website.

Woodland DJs, including a surprise poet

As well as his appearance in Wilderness Tracks, Simon Armitage replaces his pen for the turntables as he takes to the woodland Eyrie Stage as a night-time DJ. As a poet, he burrows in to topics with a level head that allows him to swing from pathos to comedy. No topic is off limits, so we can expect the same from his eclectic music choices. 

Timber organisers are also delighted to announce that BBC radio presenter and broadcaster Elizabeth Alker has become a patron of Timber Festival. She will once again take over a day on the woodland Eyrie Stage, programming a mixture of live music, spoken word and a DJ set. Elizabeth is perhaps best known for presenting the music news on BBC6 Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie show, as well as hosting her weekend breakfast show on BBC Radio 3.

Look up for high-flying outdoor performances

A series of soaring theatrical performances will grace the tree tops. World-class funambulist and high-wire walker Chris Bullzini will perform the Treetop Tightrope Spectacular, a jaw-dropping tightrope walk above the forest canopy. The Dream Engine bring their etherial aerial show Heliosphere, in which a spiralling, spinning and seemingly weightless acrobat is suspended beneath a helium balloon, whilst Ramshacklicious are the Band at the End of the World, a dystopian, unspeaking troupe of strange characters.  

Exploring the climate crisis 

Timber, set at the heart of the National Forest, is all about encouraging people to live more sustainably and in harmony with nature. In 2020, much of the programme will explore the impacts that we have on the world and how we can tackle the climate crisis. Here, Timber have announced just a taster of what we can expect. 

Timber will host a reading of Letters to the Earth from Culture Declares Emergency, a book compiled of moving and inspiring letters about the climate crisis from the British public. Audiences will also be able to listen to recordings of contributors, from Greta Thunberg to David Attenborough, reading out letters from the book in a thought-provoking audio installation.

With more than a third of all food produced globally going to waste each year, Leicester-based community organisation Perfectly Edible UK are on a mission to save as much as possible and create healthy meals out of surplus food that they intercept. They’ll be back in 2020 with their Binner Party, which went down a storm at Timer 2019, creating a two course meal made entirely from food which would otherwise have been sent to landfill.

Side-splitting comedy 

Leicester Comedy Festival are back with their comedy programme at the Field Notes Stage. In 2019 they hooked us up with Alex Hylton, Chris Washington and Carly Smallman.

New and returning areas for Timber 2020

Shivelight, Timber’s area for wellness, will move to the crest of the hill overlooking the festival. Shivelight is where festival goers will find classes such as yoga and tai chi, mindfulness workshops and other activities led by expert instructors, now with panoramic views over the forest. 

As well as taking part in a wealth of workshops, festival goers will be able to relax in a wood-fired hot tub at Shivelight and watch the sun go down behind the trees. Sessions in the hot tubs, brought to Timber by Wonderlandia, will go on sale next year. 

Two of the festival’s most popular areas, The Common and Halcyon Days, will swap locations. The Common is Timber’s area for all things food, with some of the best festival food vendors around, as well as bars, cooking workshops and demos. Halcyon Days is the area for circus skills and woodland games, so come dance! Come play! Compete! 

Returning areas for 2020 

The largest of the Timber areas, Field Notes is home to music, stories, lessons and lectures from the heart of the forest. Expect headline bands and musicians, as well as the very best in talks, storytelling and cutting edge ideas. The woods are speaking, will you listen?

The Eyrie Stage, set in a secluded forest glade, is dedicated to spoken word and chilled live music by day, and comes alive for the night owls with woodland DJs and electronica.

Get in touch with the fundamentals and explore big ideas at Elemental, home to all things earth, air, fire and water. Expect authors, poets and acoustic sets, as well as night-time films in the woodland cinema.

As the Crow Flies is all about the wild of the woods, so come and celebrate your animal self in the glade. Here you can find the beloved Timber campfire, with storytelling through the day and live bands as the night draws in. 

Harness and hone your woodcraft skills in The Canopy, Timber’s area for cultivating woodland enterprise ideas with woodcraft skills and workshops. 

Published on 08 December 2019 by Ben Robinson

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