13 July 2016

Celebrate Nature in Writing in Beautiful Surroundings at Niddfest

The tagline pulled me in. "Celebrating nature in writing." Two of my favourite things. Combined in a weekend festival. In the Yorkshire Dales. My sister recently moved to Harrogate and I've heard great things about Nidderdale and how pretty it is. Recently there's been a rise in popularity of festivals with a more cultural emphasis (Festival No.6, Port Eliot, Curious Arts Festival) perhaps appealing to those that are bored with the traditional music festivals or those with creative sensibilities who want to do something a bit different.

Niddfest (in its 2nd year) was set up by Kit Peel, who has an interesting backstory. In a previous life Kit was a foreign affairs journalist, travelling from the Artic to Afghanistan, with long periods in Africa, before settling down in Yorkshire to set up NiddFest. He has also just qualified as a landscape gardener and is writing a children's book. The festival takes place from August 5th - 7th, and instead of buying a festival pass, events are individually ticketed so you can pick and choose the events that suit you best. It's also family friendly, with plenty of fun and educational events and activities to encourage kids to see nature as part of their everyday lives.

I love the Lord of the Rings style map of the venues around Pateley Bridge, which sits between Harrogate, Ripon and Masham. Nidderdale has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with spectacular landscapes, great food and accommodation, and plenty of activities on offer - pot holing, abseiling, even llama riding! Hikers and walkers are bound to enjoy the array of stunning walks in the area (discover some routes here).

Niddfest 2016 map and venues (illustrated by Sarah Garforth)

Expect a weekend of talks, music and outdoor events, perfect for nature lovers and literary types. Headlining Niddfest is Carol Ann Duffy, the UK's 20th Poet Laureate (most people will remember her poems being featured on the curriculum at school - for me 'Valentine' has always stuck in my mind). She's speaking on the opening night and reading selected poems on Saturday morning. Satish Kumar is an author, editor and peace/environmental activist (he currently edits Resurgence and Ecologist magazine). His latest book 'Soil, Soul and Society' urges readers to remember that we are very much part of nature, and why we need to take a broader view of our route towards a more secure and sustainable future. (You can find out more at his talk on Friday evening). Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker, and will share the stage with Carol Ann Duffy on the opening night (she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014). Mercury prize-nominated Kathryn Williams is sure to enchant the audience on Saturday evening, singing tracks from her latest album Hypoxia, which was inspired by Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar.'  

Headliners (from top left) Carol Ann Duffy, Kathryn Williams, Satish Kumar, Imtiaz Dharker
Saturday (click here for the full programme)


On Saturday morning you can join a morning bird walk with Professor Nick Davies through Spring Wood and along the river Nidd. Local farmer Stephen Ramsden talks about the stunning landscape of Middlesmoor in the afternoon. 


Adam Feinstein, biographer of the Chilean Nobel Prize Winner Pablo Neruda, will be talking about the poet's passionate relationship with nature on Saturday morning. Hattie Garlick wants to make nature the new Netflix and reclaim nature as part of our everyday lives. She'll discuss this and more in her new book, Born to Be Wild (Saturday morning). Headliner Carol Ann Duffy will be reading from her work on Saturday lunchtime. On Saturday afternoon children's author Helen Stephens talks about her books series How to Hide a Lion (children will be able to take part in the stories). Anyone fascinated by the manipulative activities of the cuckoo will enjoy Nick Davies' talk about his new book, 'Cuckoo - Cheating By Nature.' The winners of the 2016 Niddfest poetry prize will be receive their prizes from Carol Ann Duffy at 4pm, and Ali Shaw rounds up the day's talks by discussing his wonderful new supernatural book, The Trees. 

One of last year's talks (James Rebanks)

From 10am - 4pm kids can enjoy the delights of the Children's Tent on the banks of the river Nidd. There's face painting and crafts activities, a reading with Lizzie Barklem (the daughter of Jill Barklem, the author of the Brambly Hedge books) and a Brambly Hedge themed party.  Then there's nature games and the Narrowband will be singing about vegetables. Don't miss it!



On Sunday morning Noel Kingsbury be sharing his knowledge during a wildflower walk through Nidderdale's meadows where you'll learn more about plant ecology.


Noel Kingsbury will be going wild about the garden on Sunday, talking about nature-inspired planting.   Find out what's really happening with our planet with Tony Juniper on Sunday lunchtime when the former head of Friends of the Earth talks about his latest book. John Lewis-Stempel will be talking about the wonders of ploughland as he discussed his latest book, The Running Hare.  Rounding up the talks on Sunday is Christine Walkden, gardener and TV presenter from The One Show and her own show 'Christine's Garden' who'll be talking about her life as a gardener on Sunday afternoon. 


On Sunday morning children can let their imaginations run wild in the woods with Annie Berrington and take part in a range of Wild Art creative activities.  Kids will also love den building with Annie followed by a woodland campfire in the afternoon.

Getting around

Just one of Nidderdale's stunning views

To make it easier to get around as many events as possible a hop-on hop-off prepaid bus service (£8) will be running from Pateley Bridge to Middlesmoor on Saturday. For the timetable and to book click here (you can still buy tickets on the day but your place isn't guaranteed). If you have spare time to explore the area there are many attractions and heritage sites including Ripon Cathedral, Ripley Castle and Gardens, Stump Cross Caverns and even llama trekking (top of my list)!

I can't wait to be in the presence of literary and musical greatness and explore this beautiful area! 

For tickets click here

No comments:

Post a Comment