What Is Timber Festival All About?

*press trip

Last year I wrote about our experience at Just So Festival (spoiler – it was amazing!)and a couple of weeks ago, Wild Rumpus invited us to their sister festival, Timber.

Before we went, a few people asked me if Timber was the same as Just So – a family festival. No is the answer.

If Just So is a children’s festival, where adults are welcome, catered for and will have an incredible time – then Timber is an adult’s festival, where children are welcome, catered for and will have an incredible time.

The imagination, attention to detail and sheer magic that Wild Rumpus bring to their events is evident as soon as you arrive.  But Timber isn’t simply a grown up version of Just So, it’s something quite different.

There’s a slower pace from the very beginning.  We arrived in the early afternoon – there was no traffic, no queue to get in and no rush to pitch our tent.  We realised that anyone travelling with school-age children may be coming later, hence the quietness.  With a 16 year old and a 3 year old, we had dodged the crowds we thought.  But the crowds didn’t come.  It seems that Timber is purposely quieter, to the point that the performers, staff and volunteers, recognised you by the first morning and by Saturday night, felt like old friends.

Anyway enough of that, I’m getting misty eyed – what’s it all about!  It’s about nature.  It’s about our connection to nature, our love for it, our responsibility for it.  It’s about finding joy in simple things like the smell of the woods first thing in the morning, hot chai under the stars and getting lost and found amongst wild flowers.  It’s soooo chilled and mellow – except for when it’s not!

Like when Phil Jupitus started rocking out to electro music, or when Max took his pants off while 10 ft in the air or when Dorothy (yes my 3 year old daughter) refused to go to bed, despite the fact that it was midnight, because the Ska DJ in the woods was playing some absolute bangers!!

The highlights for me were (in no particular order)

The huge hand carved marble run – a veritable feat of engineering if ever I saw one!

Anyday.  Ever seen one man make 100 people laugh so hard they make snorting noises, using just a few breadcrumbs?  I have!  I’d say that this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!

Toast.  Dorothy and spent about an hour with this unusual installation.  We discussed food, told stories and even tasted some local oat cakes, but mainly Dorothy was mesmerized by their fire.

Music.  The artists were incredible.  No really they were so good and long after those with children had left the Field Notes tent, those without were enjoying a craft cider and listening to the most epic sounds.  My absolute favourites were Tawiah and Gwenno.

Hypnosis tent.  I swear I checked the time when I went in and it was 1.45.  then I began to listen to the hypnotist.  I was extremely relaxed and the next thing I knew…I was back in the room and it was 2pm!  I’m not absolutely sure what happened but I felt very chilled!

Giant Scrabble.  The Halycon field was decked out with Circus tents, archery and giant board games.  Now don’t ever let it be said that I’m competitive😘, but I’m bloody awesome at Scrabble and playing it like this was so much fun, even with the pitch invaders.

Maypole dancing.  My Grandma used to teach this when she was younger but this was my first ever time.  It was so much fun and so easy with the brilliant instruction.

Wool felting.  Look at my little friend!  I made this in an hour!  It’s incredible to learn a new skill while chatting about young people and how we can promote and strengthen their connection to nature.

Woodland Cinema.  Want to bond with your teenager?  Watch The Blair Witch project with them, in the woods at midnight!

Campfire Cooking.  If there’s food – I’m there.  If there’s fire – Phill’s there and he developed an almighty man-crush on this gentleman here, who started a fire WITH HIS BARE HANDS!

Weleda.  God bless Weleda!!  My hands were aching by Saturday afternoon.  Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and pitching a tent, do not make for happy bedfellows.  Thankfully they were they with complementary hand massages ❤️

Forest puppets.  We met these divine creatures  last year when we visited The Lanterns at Chester Zoo, but that genuinely didn’t make them any less magical.  When we left on Sunday evening, we had to prize Dorothy away from them.

Campfire stories.  The antics around the campfire were worth the trip all by themselves!  Whether they were teaching Rolling Stones songs on the ukulele or telling stories old and new, this is the beating heart of the festival.

Had we attended without Dorothy, we’d have had a completely different experience.  I’d have done tai chi at sunrise, drunk gin into the early hours and attended poetry readings – but  threenagers are drawn to other things 😁

Time for the nitty gritty.  Before I left, readers asked me about the following: toilets, rubbish and recycling, cost of food, showers and accessibility.

There were two types of ‘facilities’ at the festival – the typical porta loo in the camping area and compostable toilets on the festival grounds.  I didn’t take a picture of the compostable toilets as it seemed a bit improper given that they had already been well used when I got there.  They were about six foot high(!) Meaning you had to climb up steps to get to them and if you were doing a number two, you had to take a cup of compost with you 🤣

They definitely smelt better than porta loos even if the drop was a bit disconcerting and sadly, as with all toilets, they quickly fell victim to the poor aim of some of the menfolk 🤷Nevertheless a fantastic eco friendly option.

As I’m sure you’d expect from a festival about nature, ‘leave no trace’ was a deeply entrenched mantra.  And we left no trace.  All around the site were recycling bins and attendees were encouraged to refill bottles and cups.  Unlike larger festivals the after event clean up was limited to the removal of temporary structures and perhaps the sprinkling of a little grass seed, because there was no sea of rubbish, no abandoned tents – nothing.   The festival also encourages visitors to try to offset their carbon footprint or travel by bike or bus.

Now then, food.  They like their food here.  Infact there’s a whole field dedicated to food and drink and it’s all delightful.  But sadly there’s a less than delightful price.  For example we bought six croquettes (yes that’s potato balls) for £12.  Now don’t get me wrong, these croquettes were amazing, they tasted like they’d been made from potatoes grown in the garden of Eden, but £12!?  Beers and ciders – £3-5, hotdogs £6, ice cream £3+

It’s not cheap but it’s so good.  If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend having a treat day or treat meal from the field but making the rest of your food yourself.

The showers are great.  I’d never have used a shower back in the day – I was all about the festival babywipe bath 🤮 but times have changed.  I like my creature comforts, I like my tent and sleeping bag to stay mud-free and I really hate baby wipes!  So it does matter to me what the showers are like and they’re really quite good.  They’re hot, the pressure is decent and given that this photo is taken at the end of the festival, they’re pretty clean too!

Because of my condition we stayed in the Accessible Camping, meaning we could park the car next to the tent as opposed to carting our gear back and forth.  And thank goodness.  If I’d had to do that, I’d have been ill for the rest of the weekend!  You have to apply for a spot in this field ahead of time and there’s also a mobi-loo available.  This is tremendous!  We didn’t use it as we don’t need to, but it looked so high tech and meant that wheelchair users could use the toilet and shower with comparable ease.  But….to access the festival itself, you have to walk downhill on a rocky path.  It was a challenge for me and I’m not sure how a wheelchair would cope.  However given the way the event was managed, I know that the organisers would find a way!!

I’m used to returning from festivals feeling tired, grubby and a bit frazzled but Timber sent me home feeling refreshed and enriched (and tired and grubby of course).

I felt like I’d found my people and my mind is still bubbling with ideas and insights and not just because of the ska disco!

Although I feel like we were exactly where we were supposed to be all weekend, I also know that we missed loads of stuff!  It’s the nature of festivals.  So for another perspective, why not read my friends’ take on things.

The Brick Castle

Hodge Podge Days

Love Rachel ❤️

You’ll soon be able to book tickets for Timber 2020 here!