A major new festival exploring the transformative impact of forests has revealed the full programme of artists, performers and areas festivalgoers will adventure through for its inaugural edition this July.
Highlights include the world premiere of Seek, Find, Speak, the outdoor theatre companion to The Lost Words, wilderness enthusiast Robert Macfarlane and BBC Radio 3 and 6 Music presenter Liz Alker choosing their favourite nature inspired songs for “Wilderness Tracks”, music headliners Jane Weaver and This Is The Kit, 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, forests, arts and ideas 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:
An ambitious adventure into sound, rooted in the forest across three stunning bespoke wooden stages (including the enchanting Eyrie Stage raised between the trees) and around the campfire. The chance to see some of the most exciting new music live in an intimate woodland setting.
Headliners include Jane Weaver (performing songs from new album Modern Kosmology), This Is The Kit (performing compelling Alt Folk from new album Moonshine Freeze) and the energetic and joyful Hope & Social.
Don’t miss Afro-centric future soul from Aadae, Welsh singer-songwriter H.Hawkline, string-swept folk from Sivu, alt-folk rock duo Stables, soulful and bluesy arrangements from Jalen N’Gonda and uplifting Latin and Afrobeat from Discolypso.
There are acoustic sets from award-winning singer, songwriter, Ewan McLennan, dreamy electro-pop from Alice Jemima (renowned for her acoustic version of No Diggity), atmospheric sonic warmth from Oslo singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen (and her debut album The Nordic Mellow), mythical and melodic power from RHAIN, breakthrough singer-songwriter Brooke Bentham, 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.
Multi award-winning progressive brass band Perhaps Contraption will be performing an exuberant show, musician, artist and filmmaker, Ichi from Japan will take the notion of a one-man band to new limits and don’t miss ambient/indie Derby collaboration Grawl!x and local singer-songwriter Wild B.
Join BBC Radio 4 producer Geoff Bird and special guests including wilderness enthusiast and author of The Lost Words Robert Macfarlane and BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 3 presenter Elizabeth Alker for lively conversation and eclectic musical choices in Wilderness Tracksas they reveal the six nature-related songs that have made it onto the wilderness soundtrack of their lives.
Take part in singing the Dawn Chorus, a Secret Midnight Gig and the Great Timber Sound Quiz too. Meanwhile Leicestershire’s Roots Community Choirs and The Heart Of The Forest Ballad Collective will be bringing the woods to life through song.
- 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.
- 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.
- Experience Comedy In The Dark with Leicester Comedy Festival as the audience’s senses are heightened featuring TV’s Mark Dolan, best known as the host of Channel 4’s Balls of Steel and the surreal comic Joey Page, star of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy.
- Witness the spectacular performance Cosmocular from Leicester’s community arts pioneers Cosmopolitan Arts. This dazzling performance will take festivalgoers on a journey of life, through the perspective of a person of mixed heritage living in the UK. The story features traditional and world instruments with digital sound, spoken word, rap and divine vocals. The show is punctuated with breathtaking and awe-inspiring contemporary dance.
- Take part in 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.
- Join composer and sound-artist Jason Singh on a special listening walk exploring voice and technology to mimic nature and birdsong. Gather sounds and create instruments from ‘found’ nature such stones, twigs, leaves and soil. Discover how Jason uses plants and plant data to create music.
- Watch favourite forest films when the night falls including Moonrise Kingdom, Pans Labyrinth, Into the Woods, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Princess Monokoke
- Witness an enthralling fire-garden created especially for Timber Festival by leading artists, sculptors, designers and technicians pa-BOOM.
- Take part in a very special Masked Ball.
Families (and playful people of all ages)
- Experience Seek, Find, Speak: A Conjuring Told In Gold, the world premiere of the outdoor theatre companion to the enchanting, best-selling illustrated book of acrostic poems The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.
Created by Director Collette Murray, experience a forest theatre trail for all ages, both self-guided and also led by a charm of Goldfinch performers. It will feature stunning 3D installations of Jackie Morris’s golden illustrations and Macfarlane's words, such as spells wrapped in gold lettering around trees, animals to be discovered in the woodland, and lines of spells perched on branches like starlings. Together with sound recordings of the spell poems from some of Britain’s famous voices of all ages and accents, including inspiring athletes, naturalists, actors, poets, musicians and scientists, The Lost Words will come alive in the National Forest, for families to Seek, Find and Speak this summer. (see separate press release for further detail).
- Riveting storytelling inspired by British folk tales and world myths from Ian Douglas and mindbending science and magic from Dieter Wadeson.
- Look out for thrilling aerial acrobatics in the trees, bringing ancient tales to life from Whispering Woods and magical Dream Antelopes who will be roaming the site.
- Take part in The Coppice Maze. Come and help to create a beautiful collaborative maze, then get yourself lost in it. Using a beautiful planting of silver birch, hand dyed fabric coloured with natural dyes will be wound around the trees to create our maze.
- 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 tree climbing, slacklining, leaf art and mask making workshops. Join Responsible Fishing to create some seemingly impossible stone sculptures and beautiful geometric land art.
- 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 imaginationfrom A Bird In The Hand Theatre.
- Have some buzzing adventures with beekeeping experiences with The Bee Farmer and interactive theatre show Bee Cartfrom Sheffield’s Pif Paf Theatre. Meet Bee Guides Bombus and Borage for much Bee wisdom and surreal fun. Delve into the world of Bees, learn the pollen packing dance and the waggle dance. Try out their Buzz Pollenator, and maybe even get your nose pollinated.
- Spot a series of Forest Monsters designed by children who live in the National Forest and hear about their story in accompanying sound installations.
- Browse and take part in the beautiful Archive Of The Outside. Exchange a piece of nature for a memory, picture or idea related to it to add to the archive for others to enjoy.
- Make 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.
- 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.
- Spend time together in our Board Games Tent in association with Asmodee Games. Hone and learn powers of cunning, dexterity, strategy and (ahem) fair play together. Roll the dice, choose your counter, deal the cards, pick your pieces and come and play some of the best board and parlour games ever. Quick or slow, little or large there’ll be games for all.
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)
- Join BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 3 presenter Elizabeth Alker as she talks to musician and sound recordist Chris Watson, one of the world's leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena.
- 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)
- 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. Chaired by BBC Presenter Lindsey Chapman (Springwatch Unsprung, Big Blue & BBC Arts) with panellists including authors Sara Maitland (Gossip From The Forest), Karen McCarthy Woolf and storyteller Ian Douglas, 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.
- Join author Adam Weymouth as he reveals his Alaskan river journey and a disappearing world in his new book Kings Of The Yukon.
- Should money grow on trees? Take part in a debate on the role of money-making in sustaining Britain’s woodlands with Making Local Woods Work. Should money be made from our Ancient woodlands? Is it possible to respect our trees and use them for economic gain? And who should be allowed to make money from managing native woodlands? Should woodlands be reliant on grant income? Or can we protect/improve woodland without financial incentive? Panellists include Charles Robinson, Head of Forestry at the National Forest Company, Darren Moorcroft, Director of Estate and Woodland Outreach at The Woodland Trust and Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive and co-founder of Sylva Foundation
- Further explore the interface between humans and nature in discussions on environmental stories of the moment.
- 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
- 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.
Relaxation and wellbeing
Take part in guided runs which take in the National Forest at dusk. Relax and soak in the landscape all around with a book from a stunning woodland library installation, 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.
Experience the Murmuration installation, an incredible flock of starlings above your heads, accompanied by a beautiful soundscape and transformed by light as night falls
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 on the Leicestershire / Derbyshire border 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.”