New National Forest Festival 'Timber' announces first wave of programme

Major new festival exploring the transformative impact of forests has started to reveal its programme of artists, performers and areas festivalgoers will adventure through for its inaugural edition this July. Highlights include a keynote address from Stuart Maconie, the English festival premiere of Jony Easterby’s new interactive performance Tree and Wood, and the greenfield festival premiere of Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon. Timber is an extraordinary new festival where music, art, philosophy and sustainability will weave together into an exhilarating weekend in the heart of the National Forest, one of Britain’s boldest environmental projects.

Created by the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus (award-winning producers of the Just So Festival), experience the transformative impact of forests with artists, musicians, scientists and thinkers. Explore what woodlands can mean to us and how we can re-imagine our relationship with our environment. Play and create in an arboreal wonderland, where the tonic of wildness rules supreme. The programme includes:

Provocation: Inspirational writers, artists, poets, scientists, philosophers and educators will help us re-imagine what woodlands and trees mean to us and our relationship with the world around us. They include:

· Stuart Maconie, broadcaster, writer and president of the Ramblers, delivers the inaugural keynote session at Timber. Having walked the woods and byways of this country for decades Stuart will muse on the changing nature of the landscape in a post-industrial Britain and the great pull of the natural world. And he will, with his typical wit and warmth, consider how on earth rambling ever became so cool (ish)
· Nature writer and Oxford University Professor Fiona Stafford, author of The Long, Long Life of Trees will share a number of her acclaimed Radio 3 Essays on the importance, symbolism and unexpected facts around different kinds of trees.
· Discover what it’s like to be an animal in the forest through the eyes of four woodland species in Marshmallow Laser Feast’s award-winning immersive virtual reality experience In The Eyes of the Animal.
· A spoken word workshop from Polarbear (Steven Camden), one of the most versatile and respected spoken word artists in Britain. Having grown up in Birmingham he’s performed on stages around the world from Glastonbury to the RSC and regularly on the BBC, he’ll be coming home to the Midlands to lead an interactive session.
· Take a walk in the forest with award-winning poet and BBC Radio 4 presenter Paul Farley as he explores how 19th century transcendentalist authors and social reformers Thoreau and Emerson revolutionised our relationship with woodlands and can help us to “live deliberately” today.
· Award-winning poet and author Karen McCarthy Woolf (Seasonal Disturbances, An Aviary of Small Birds)
· Join BBC Radio 4 producer Geoff Bird and special guests including BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 3 presenter Elizabeth Alker for lively conversation and eclectic musical choices in Wilderness Tracks as they reveal the six nature-related songs that have made it onto the wilderness soundtrack of their lives.
· Birdlife. From the casual birder to the passionate ornithologist there’ll be something for everyone as a panel of ardent bird lovers ponder the inspiration offered by our feathered friends.
· Happily Ever After. From Gawain to Grimm, Shakespeare’s Arden to Boorman's Deliverance, forests have provided some of the most evocative backdrops in all of literature, art and film. Join us for a discussion about the particular ways that writers, directors and artists have used this unique setting.
· Take a quiet Digital Bird Spotting stroll with eminent nature publisher Myles Archibald and put the new Collins Bird Guide App to the test.
· Further explore the interface between humans and nature in discussions on environmental stories of the moment.

Light: Torchlight processions, light projections, fire gardens and luminous installations, will help us see the forest in a new light. Expect incredible performance as dusk falls each night, and discover the unexpected as into the night the forest will be transformed by spectacular installations. Highlights include:

· Take a journey into the heart of the forest at dusk in the English festival premiere of Tree and Wood, a new interactive performance exploring our relationship to trees and forests by leading artist and producer Jony Easterby, with a team of international artists, musicians, performers and foresters. Tree and Wood explores our relationship with the trees and woods we depend on for our survival both past and present through a journey through a series of installations, movement, song and music. Known for his dynamic and immersive sound and light works across the world, Jony Easterby’s recent immersive night time adventure For The Birds has wowed audiences across the UK.
· Explore all the sides of the moon in the greenfield festival premiere of Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon – an incredible seven metre moon sculpture featuring detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface and sound by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones.
· Experience Comedy In The Dark with Leicester Comedy Festival as the audience’s senses are heightened. Previous sell-out shows across Europe have included Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges, Jon Richardson, Shappi Khorsandi and Greg Davies.
· Witness an enthralling fire-garden created especially for Timber Festival by leading artists, sculptors, designers and technicians pa-BOOM.
· Enjoy campfires and bonfire bands each evening as the forest magic transforms the night

Gather: Come together to celebrate, collaborate, collude and carouse in a world of arts, crafts and enterprise rooted in the forest, creating a vibrant living landscape.

Don’t miss:

· A masked ball and thrilling aerial acrobatics in the trees, bringing ancient tales to life from Whispering Woods. Riveting storytelling inspired by British folk tales and world myths from Ian Douglas.
· Relax with a book from a stunning woodland library installation and play in a unique maze. Take part in tree climbing, slacklining, leaf art and mask making workshops. Join Responsible Fishing to create some seemingly impossible stone sculptures and beautiful geometric land art.
· Wild play rules at Hammer & Chisel, our unique woodland playground. Create your own world or add to ours using pallets and tyres, ladders and ropes, help us put together a myriad of walkways, dens and secret spaces. Pick up your tool of choice and get ready to build a timberland.
· Take part in huge adventures for smaller festivalgoers at The Bewonderment Machine, a magical cycle-powered ride-on carousel and miniature theatrical flight of the imagination from A Bird In The Hand Theatre.
· Watch those innovating in forests as they share their passion in Woodland Workshops and get hands on wood stacking, constructing with timber, wood carving, and willow weaving - explore the beauty and possibilities of wood as a material.
· Join evening Charcoal Sessions where writers, artists, academics, politicians and scientists, along with those working in woodlands will come together around the charcoal burner to contemplate new ways of living and working in forests, provoking curiosity and inspiring us all to think differently about the world around us.
· Celebrate Black to Green, exploring how the heart of the National Forest has been transformed from coal pits to tree tops - featuring songs and poems from the Heart of the Forest Ballad Collective and beekeeping experiences with The Bee Farmer.
· Watch favourite forest films when the night falls including Moonrise Kingdom, Pans Labyrinth, Into the Woods, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Princess Monokoke
· Pitch your idea for a new woodland based social enterprise or expansion of a current one in Make Your Local Wood Work with prizes ranging from cash investment to help make the idea happen to structured support from industry experts.

Sound. An ambitious adventure into sound and music, rooted in the forest. Join us round the campfire and across three stages for live music. Venture into the woods to be immersed in compelling sound installations, storytelling, soundscapes and DJ sets. We’ll be working with sound artists who are responding to forest environments in incredible, interactive ways, and choirs will be bringing the woods to life through song.

Don’t miss award-winning singer, songwriter, Ewan McLennan, dreamy electro-pop from Alice Jemima, multi-instrumentalist Emma Gatrill, ethereal, modern day folk from The Dyr Sister, beautiful cinematic music from quartet Glass Mountain, and composer and sound-artist Jason Singh, whose work includes vocal recreations of birdsong and forestry environments. Take part in the Great Timber Sound Quiz too.

Time. We’ll explore the atmosphere in the woods at twilight, midnight, dusk and dawn to delight in the rhythms of the day. We’ll be singing the dawn chorus, running through the gloaming, taking part in night swims, and revelling at secret midnight gigs. Don’t miss:

· Making clay sculptures inspired by artist David Nash’s Noon Columns.The National Forest is home to six of these temporal-based sculptures, through which the sun sends a shaft of light at true noon every day.
· Award-winning poet and author Simon Armitage.
· A performance from Leicestershire’s Roots Community Choir inspired by the noon columns
· Take part in a visual art installation marking the passing of time.

Breathe. Relax and soak in the landscape all around from our eco-spa from Bathing Under The Sky and from Tentsile tree tents suspended up high between the boughs. Revel in yoga, tai chi and capoeira practice. Take part in natural wellbeing therapy Forest Bathing and Sarah Spencer’s Think Like a Tree programme which unlocks nature’s secrets to resilience and happiness. Don’t miss the Murmuration installation, an incredible flock of starlings above your heads, accompanied by a beautiful soundscape and transformed by light as night falls.

Feast. A joyous exploration of food and drink, from farmers’ market stalls to food trucks, foraging workshops to picnics and banquets, contemplate and consume some fantastic fodder. Look out for incredible performance along culinary lines, foraging walks and chefs creating exciting menus from our hedgerows and woodlands.

Timber is a not-for-profit festival with sustainability at its heart which will partner with other international forest festivals to share knowledge and innovations taking place in forests and transforming lives across the world.

Timber is a new annual camping festival located at Feanedock, a 70 acre woodland site at the heart of the National Forest. Embracing 200 square miles of the Midlands, the National Forest is the first forest to be created at scale in England for over 1000 years. Spanning parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, the first trees in the National Forest were planted over 25 years ago, to transform a landscape that had been left scarred and derelict by the closure of the Midlands coalfield. The whole Forest area spans rolling hills and farmland, towns, villages and industrial hubs, as well as the former coalfield, all framed by woodland: over eight and a half million trees have been planted since the early 1990s. The National Forest is a forest for the nation, a national asset that demonstrates a revolutionary approach to forestry, showing how well-designed woodlands can enrich the lives of people, businesses and wildlife, while helping to address climate change.

John Everitt, Chief Executive, National Forest Company, says: “People who live in the National Forest see every day how the planting of millions of trees over the last 25 years has changed their lives. Timber’s fantastic range of experiences, activities and thought-provoking interactions – from immersive woodland light and sound installations to Leicester Comedy Festival’s Comedy in the Dark, from spoken word performances to forest bathing – all these will offer festival-goers the opportunity to experience the transformative power of forests directly.”

Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban, Directors of Wild Rumpus say: “Trees and forests are absolutely at the foreground of our thinking about what it means to live healthily and happily in a modern world so dominated by digital devices and new technologies. They have the potential to help us unleash new ways to live as communities, playfully and creatively together. We can’t wait until summer so that we can celebrate the benefits of trees and introduce the Timber community to Feanedock, a woodland in the making.”

For information and tickets visit