A weekend in the forest at Timber Festival 2019

The second year of Timber Festival definitely didn’t disappoint. Despite a bit of drizzle on Saturday morning, the weather stayed largely fine, and it was actually a relief not to have the meltingly hot temperatures of the previous year. 

We arrived late on the Friday, but as soon as we got onto the beautiful festival site amongst the trees of the National Forest, we slowed down and started channelling Timber’s relaxed pace. That’s the best thing about this festival – it’s small enough not to feel crowded and allow you a feeling of space. That means there’s never any difficulty catching a show, plus the majority of them are repeated over the weekend so there’s more than one chance to see it, or can you can catch it again if you’ve loved it the first time around.

Unfortunately I did end up missing Jesca Hoop’s set, which I do regret (especially after listening to her all week on 6 Music), but the later evening programming is always more of a challenge with tired kids in tow. As they get older I look forward to be able to enjoy more of that side of the festival.

I treated myself to a session at Timber’s outdoor spa. Last year the hot tubs were dotted across the top a hillside, overlooking meadows, but this time they were tucked into a corner in the new Shivelight area. I still loved the hot tub experience, but it wasn’t quite the Instagram-perfect moment I’d been imagining since gazing longingly at them a year ago! 

The biggest hit with the kids was the Giant Marble Run, as I suspected it would be. I think they’d have happily spent hours there, following the marbles down the higgledy-piggledy maze of carved rhododendrum. Having just constructed marble runs at school out of recycled materials this term, they were 100% engaged in this activity, and the guy responsible for their construction was fascinating to chat to and learn from.

The other piece of programming popular with the kids was Baron in the Trees – an acrobatic theatre show that had them transfixed – high ropes, silks, juggling – it had it all. Alfie enjoyed it so much he went to watch it twice.

Now onto the adults. Ben managed to get along to more of the talks this year, all of which he was impressed by. And the selfie wall – any selfie uploaded with the #TimberFestival hashtag got printed out on a sticker and added to a large landscape which came together over the course of the festival – was a hit with kids and adults alike. It was lovely to keep stopping by to see the big picture’s progress, and the finished result was stunning.

For me, I loved Forest of Dreams, an immersive theatre performance that was both funny and poignant. Plus they gave me a pie, which is going winw me over everytime! My pie came with a message (written earlier by an audience member) – a tip for surviving alone in the forest. Mine really chimed with me, so I kept it and brought it home with me.

One of the great things about  Timber is the connections they’re forming with the local community. We spent time at the Youth Landscapers area, ‘Listening to the Land’. This group of local young people are researching the area’s changing landscape, and were recording nature memories for their Listening to the Land podcast. We really enjoyed chatting to the kids from the group, as well as the adults who explained how the Timber Festival site has changed in the last year, and the changes we can expect to see next year and beyond.

Right, practicalities. Let me rave about the food options. There was a great choice and the food was SO GOOD. We didn’t have anything that wasn’t fresh and delicious. From Tibetan curry to Greek gyros, wood-fired pizza to beef brisket, it’s fair to say we didn’t end up cooking half as much food back at the van as we planned. 

The campervan area was well-organised. I never had to queue for the toilets and queued only briefly for a lovely hot shower. Inside the festival site, all the toilets were compost loos, which was a great reflection of the ethos of the festival. 

Once again we had a fantastic family weekend, connecting with each other and with the landscape and its stories. We loved the mix of art, theatre, music and debate and are excited to see how the festival continues to grow. Early Bird tickets for Timber 2020 are available now, so if this chilled, creative, thought-provoking festival sounds like its up your street (or forest path), why not go head and book your tickets now.



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