The Festival of Nature, the UK’s biggest free celebration of the natural world, will be returning to Bath and Bristol this month with a variety of in-person and virtual events.
The 19th annual Festival of Nature, which follows a reduced programme in 2020 due to the pandemic, will showcase 100 ‘voices for nature’ and aims to inspire 25,000 ‘actions for nature’ to help the natural world flourish in local communities.
The festival comes as new research released from Natural England suggests that nature became a more important part of the public’s routines this year, as life slowed down under COVID-19 restrictions.
The People and Nature Survey shows that between April 2020 and March 2021 one in five (18%) adults in England spent time in nature every day and overall, three quarters (72%) got outside at least once a week.
Additionally, since coronavirus began, 42% adults report spending more time outside and almost a third (31%) have spent more time exercising outdoors. A similar number (30%) claimed they had spent more time noticing nature and wildlife.
With 43% of adults saying visiting green and natural spaces has been even more important to their wellbeing since coronavirus, many will be looking to maintain their ‘nature habit’ and continue to spend time outdoors as lockdown restrictions ease.
Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of the Natural History Consortium, the organisers of the Festival, said: “The research from Natural England shows just how much we as a nation have relied on the natural world to tide us through consecutive lockdowns. The question now is how do we maintain our new-found connection to nature as our lives get busier?
“The Festival of Nature is the perfect opportunity to find new ways to engage with and spend time in nature, and it’s all completely free. With a focus this year on Voices for Nature, we’re going to be giving a voice to people who are helping nature and wildlife to flourish across Bristol and Bath.
“The Festival of Nature has become a key event in the West’s calendar over the years, and we’re tremendously excited that we’ve been able to offer new and exciting ways to engage with wildlife this year.
“With online and in-person events taking place across Bristol and Bath, as well as over 100 pieces of video and audio content set to be released over the week, there really is something for everyone.”
This year, participants can try out tree yoga and attend outdoor talks in secret nature spots.
Video and audio content will transport listeners to sites including Slimbridge Wetland Centre, parks in Bath and Bristol, Bristol Zoo, Tyntesfield, and the Botanic Gardens to showcase 100 ‘voices for nature’, hearing from site managers about how nature in these places fared during lockdown, and providing a sneak peak of what’s coming up this summer.
There are plenty of chances to get creative too, with guided virtual draw-alongs, make-alongs and cook-alongs all themed around nature, as well as a session on writing a nature poem led by Bristol’s city poet.
Alongside the programme of events, organisers are encouraging the public to take ‘action for nature’, and have released a list of actions to inspire people to help nature flourish in their communities.
The public are encouraged to log their actions online, and the event is aiming to inspire 25,000 actions over the week.
To get ideas flowing, organisers have teamed up with local creative Keziah Wenham-Kenyon to produce a four-part podcast series themed around four ways to take Action for Nature: Take Less, Choose Better, Demand More, Give Back.
The Festival of Nature runs from 5th – 12th June. For more information, and to see the full programme of content and events, visit www.festivalofnature.org.uk.