Timber for us as a family marks the start of our summer, and all I can say is that it didn’t fall short of our expectations. There is something about the natural beauty of the National Forest, combined with the festival setting that captures our hearts. I am 17 years old and have been going to festivals since day dot, and Timber is one of my favourites and I can assure you it will become a tradition to go.
With a 12 year old brother also, Timber provides both of us with exactly what we need from a festival. I’m currently studying geography at A level, so looking for evidence of sustainable management is engraved into my observations; Timber demonstrates many sustainable approaches and the ethos of respecting and celebrating the landscape is at the heart of the festival.
Activities for kids
Timber encourages kids to engage with and enjoy their natural surroundings in a number of imaginative ways. In the DIY Utopia area, kids can run wild in the playground, climb on the Timberplay structures and use the materials provided to create their own play. The Timberplay structures use sustainably forested timbers from the Bavarian Alps. There were loads of fun activities in the forest school, including snoozing in hammocks, mud kitchens and advice for primary schools as to how they can create their own forest school activities.
My brother spent 2 hours carving himself a Gandalf staff in the woodcraft area. He loved learning this new skill and was determined to do the whole thing himself! This cost £15, but was money well spent for the enjoyment that he got out of it.
There were circus skills, a compact disco which moved around the festival site and a compelling acrobatic performance called Timeless by Joli Vyann. This featured a giant rotating hourglass and emphasised the nature of time running out.
There were many opportunities for joyful dance for kids and parents together, including a Ceilidh, Maypole Dancing, folk dancing to Kabantu and the Woodland Disco. It was lovely to see toddlers being swung high in the air by the parents and hard to tell who was enjoying it more!
There was a really sweet Timber maze, which is made from hazel, sweet chestnut and willow.
After dark, there were stories and singing around the campfire, alongside magical things to explore. We followed the gloaming light trail and walked amongst the air giants, which close and unfurl like other-wordly plants. Hundreds of little mushrooms which had been made by local school children glowed in the forest canopy.
Facilities, accessibility and inclusivity
Timber is a small festival, but the facilities on offer are actually better than you might encounter at a bigger festival. There are plentiful toilets, which are well maintained. There were more long-drop composting toilets this year, which are generally more pleasant than a chemical loo. There are warm showers available, which are open from 7am to 10pm.
There are excellent accessible facilities for festival goers with disabilities. This included accessible camping, accessible toilets and shower and a Mobiloo accessible toilet, which includes an adult-sized changing bench and hoist. We were pleased to see a separate area of the festival for children with neurodiversity, as well as ramps leading up to the stages. The Nottingham-based Our Dementia Choir sang on Sunday. This is a gentle place that is inclusive of everyone.
Food and drink
There is a small food area, however this included a fairly diverse range of options, such as Indian, Greek, Spanish, plant-based and seafood. Prices were fairly reasonable, compared to other festivals which seem to have raised the prices. Meals were around £10 for a pizza, £8 for vegan Pad Thai or loaded fries, £8 for paella. There were some kids options for around £5, including smaller portions of vegan meals and kid’s hot dog meals. There are no restrictions on bringing your own food into the festival, so it’s fine to bring a picnic. Vegan gelato was also sold next to Nightingale Stage.
There were an array of beers and cider available at the Forresters Arms, in association with Tollgate Brewery. There were also a cocktail bar and a small bar next to the Eyrie Stage. Drinks were fairly priced and came with a reusable cup.
As wonderful as Timber festival is, it did feel that this year there was slightly less emphasis on the music than previously and we generally only watched a couple of music acts each day. In a way, this is a welcome change from packed festival schedules where you are racing around stage to stage to catch the next band.
We enjoyed watching The Orielles and Kabantu on the Saturday and enjoyed relaxing the symphonic sounds of the Penguin Cafe on Friday night. Saturday night was spent dancing at the Eyrie Stage to a DJ set by Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate.
Simon Armitage DJ set
Recycling and sustainability
Timber showed a real enthusiasm in recycling the right way this year. All around the festival were recycling points with bins for plastic, food, glass, metal etc. It was very pleasing to see this in action and how the festival goers placed all their rubbish in the correct bins. Timber also took a sustainable approach in their food and drink, they used a cup deposit system at all bars for reusable cups and eliminated disposable serve ware in crew catering. Also the resources that were used around the festival site are being shared with other events and is kept for future Timber Festivals. In turn, Timber have projected the importance of being sustainable really well.
Thank you to Timber Festival, for another weekend full of wonder, magic, words and nature! We cant wait to come back soon.