June 22, 2024

Preview: Curious Arts Festival @CuriousArtsFest

If you couldn’t face the prospect of drowning in mud at Glastonbury this year but you’re not quite ready to let Festival Season pass you by, the Curious Arts Festival could be just your thing. Hailed as ‘charmingly reckless’ by the Evening Standard and ‘one of the best boutique festivals’ by The Guardian, it’s back for a second year – and ready to delight with an eclectic mix of literature, music, comedy and the visual arts.

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Here are 5 reasons why you should book your ticket now.

The country estate setting
For three days in July sculptor David Roper-Curzon and his wife Melanie’s back garden provides the stunning backdrop to one of the summer’s most exciting cultural events. Soak up the festival atmosphere as you wander through 100 acres of pleasure gardens and past the beautiful lake, all overlooked by Pylewell Park’s grand house, deep in the New Forest. Pitch your tent in the scenic grounds (you’ll be able to say you once stayed in a country manor, even if it was in a sleeping bag with no butler in sight) – or if you can’t bear the thought of a weekend away without fresh white linen, splash out on one of the glamping options available.

It might be the only festival which opens with a cricket match
A weekend of curious goings on begins fittingly with the Curious Cricket Fixture between the Authors XI, a team dating back to the days of Arthur Conan Doyle and PG Wodehouse, and the Pylewell Park Cricket Club. There’ll be lots more weird and wonderful things to enjoy along the way – from snail-racing and learning the art of breathing to hedge-foraging (with a Curious Cocktail) and poetry workshops.

The big names
There’s no shortage of impressive literary talent on the festival line-up. Make sure you have your most probing questions ready for Lynn Barber – who’s spent her working life expertly extracting secrets from the powerful and famous – as the tables are turned on the award-winning interviewer. She’ll be talking about her new book, A Curious Career, with Damian Barr. Much loved authors David Nicholls (who gave us 2009’s literary sensation, One Day) and Jojo Moyes (whose most recent novel, The One Plus One, was a number one bestseller) will also be talking about their prolific careers. Join celebrated young playwright, Polly Stenham (That Face and Hotel), on Friday as she discusses her work over tea and scones. You’ll be able to pick your favourite author’s brains, hear extracts from their work, and pick up signed copies in the Waterstones pop-up bookshop.

It’s for tiny people too
That’s right – it’s not just the grow ups who get to have all the fun. Curious Arts Festival is perfect for families too. Grab a duvet and head to the East End tent for a morning of classic cartoons and a children’s film; discover how to make puppet theatre with your little ones in Allison Ouvry’s magical masterclass; send them down the rabbit hole for an Alice in Wonderland tea party; learn all about the swashbuckling world of Spacejackers and pirates from acclaimed children’s author, Huw Powell; then end the day with a bedtime story read by festival favourite, Paul Blezard.

The awesome Lucy Porter will be there
Croydon’s finest talent, Lucy Porter, is one of the stand out acts in an impressive comedy line-up. The pint-sized panel show regular has already turned Helen Mirren and Judi Dench into mouthy south London girls and Robert Mugabe into a West country farmer. She’ll be showcasing her brand new routine at the festival along with award-winning comedians, Richard Herring and Mark Watson. If it’s music not laughs you’re after, there’s plenty to keep you entertained into the night. Get lost in a hypnotic whirl of sax solos and maverick rhythms with Johnny Borrell and his new band of talented multi-instrumentalists; join the hedonistic circus of The Great Brain Robbery, hosted by Gus Robertson, on Friday night; and prepare to be dazzled by the unmissable spoken word rapper, George The Poet.

The Curious Arts Festival runs from the 17th-19th July 2015. See the full line-up and get your ticket here.

by Alexandra Newson


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