About the River Festival

The Wye Valley River Festival is two weeks of unpretentious fun, joy and spontaneity. It is an arts and environment festival shaped by the landscape of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and inspired by nature and culture.  We offer art and creativity that is relevant, current and firmly rooted in the landscape and local communities. The Festival is usually held every two years in early May, but was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. We have reimagined the festival to make it possible to deliver a new kind of festival in September – a mostly online programme of events.

Each festival has a theme, around which our activities and artists come together, raising awareness and interest in something we feel needs our care, support, or action. Our theme for 2020 is Time and our artists will be inspiring us to change the way we think about Time in all its many facets. We will be looking forward to the future as well as paying attention to the past and our rich natural and cultural heritage. We will consider how we use time, and how we can make sure we don’t run out of time in addressing the environmental and climate threats the world is facing. We showcase art which will hopefully provoke, inspire and challenge you. Above all we want to have fun and celebrate the very special landscape we are lucky enough to live and work in.

In 2018 our artists inspired us to change the way we look at ‘Woods and Trees’ and how we relate to them through our theme of ‘Woods and Trees’. With 27% of the Wye Valley AONB covered in woodland, we have plenty of places to de-stress so we tested the therapeutic benefits of trees at our Forest Gathering at Symonds Yat.  We had conversations about how trees provide oxygen and store carbon, helping to slow down global warming, and how they absorb pollutants. We took people out into the woods to show how your heart rate and blood pressure will drop when you are surrounded by trees.

Who runs the Wye Valley River Festival?

The Wye Valley River Festival is a Wye Valley AONB Partnership project, led by the Wye Valley AONB Unit, Desperate Men and Phillipa Haynes in a unique and creative collaboration between arts and environment professionals, who develop, produce and deliver the Festival with stakeholders and the communities of the Wye Valley AONB.

The Festival is supported and funded by the Wye Valley AONB Partnership, Arts Council England, the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) from Welsh Government, Arts Council of Wales, Visit Wales, Forestry England, Foresters’ Forest Landscape Partnership supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment Agency, Ross Town Council and Monmouth Town Council. In-kind support from  numerous volunteers & local communities.