About the River Festival

In normal times the Wye Valley River Festival is a biennial outdoor arts and environment festival which takes place in May. Two weeks of unpretentious fun, joy and spontaneity, that unites and excites audiences throughout the Wye Valley and beyond. The festival is led by arts professionals collaborating creatively with communities throughout the valley.

Due to Covid-19 WVRF2020 will be online, with the same eclectic mix of performance, installations, music and merriment rooted in the glorious landscape of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  We’ll be back live and close up, in fields and forests just as soon as we can !

WVRF is inspired by nature and our relationship to it. 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.

Who runs the Wye Valley River Festival?

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

Artistic Directors Jon Beedell and Richard Headon of Desperate Men, outdoor arts and street theatre company – lead the unique festival Ensemble, hosting, entertaining, challenging and guiding audiences around the festival theme and events. Desperate Men are celebrating 40 years of work this year – the company is one of the UK’s most experienced artist-led outdoor arts companies, with a respected track record of creating original, challenging, mischievous yet warm hearted street theatre. Risk-taking and innovative, the company enjoys wide respect for combining contemporary themes and topical content with a provocative, passionate yet convivial style. www.desperatemen.com

Festival DirectorPhillippa Haynes – brings a breadth of experience, ambition and artistic vision, alongside great energy and enthusiasm. Achieving artistic quality alongside a commitment to foster a collaborative process that engages the widest possible audience, and always striving for the wonderful. “imagine the impossible, and make it happen”.

Project Manager Claire Teasdale has brought extensive expertise regarding inclusion and accessibility to this year’s festival

Associate Producer Sophia Knox Miller has helped to bring everything together to make our Reimagined festival for 2020.

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 Chepstow Walkers Are Welcome and numerous volunteers & local communities.

Artists and Friends

We’d like to thank the many artists – makers. performers, musicians, painters, sculptors, fireworkers, film makers, and photographers – who we have worked with closely and creatively over the last four festivals. Their imaginative work, their commitment, their inventiveness and bravado and the warmth and humanity they show to our audiences and communities are what make this festival so special. Thank you !

And a big thanks also to all the environmentalists, conservationists, ecologists, famers, land managers, schools, traders, businesses and local communities who have encouraged and supported us throughout. Thank You !

About the AONB Unit

The Wye Valley AONB Unit is the lead delivery agent for the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership dedicated to conserving & enhancing the nationally designated Wye Valley AONB, guided by the statutory Wye Valley AONB Management Plan and staffed by employees of the representative local authorities; Forest of Dean District Council, Herefordshire Council and Monmouthshire County Council. The AONB Partnership is led by the Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) established under agreement by the Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council and Monmouthshire County Council with core grant contributions from Welsh Government through Natural Resources Wales and DEFRA. Herefordshire Council acts as treasurer for the AONB Unit’s finances.