New Arts Festival Launched at RHS Garden Wisley

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Exciting programme of theatre, talks, music, literature, carnival acts and more, at the first ever Arts Fest, 28 – 29 June 2014.











A new cross-disciplinary arts festival is being launched this June by the Royal Horticultural Society. Arts Fest will bring an exciting programme of performance, discussion, crafting and participation to the beautiful grounds of its flagship garden, Wisley in Surrey across 28th and 29th June.

Highlights include performances of Shakespeare’s playfully barbed comedy Much Ado About Nothing, by The Rose Theatre Kingston and Rose Players, String Theatre’s magical Insect Circus, aerial silk performances in the tropical Wisley Glasshouse, children’s theatre workshops, literary talks and a grand carnival parade to finish off the festivities.

Full Programme:

Theatre and Performance

Bishop David Brown Steel Band - Sat, 11.30am, 12.30pm & 1.30pm
The Bishop David Brown Steel Band will make you feel like you have arrived in the Caribbean! You'll soon be toe-tapping your way around the garden.

Shakespeare SLAM: Sat, 11:30am

Bloomin’Arts presents their own unique celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, a mashup of all things Shakespearean with tragedy and comedy, love and passion, spells and magic, death and murder and a little audience participation.

Rose Theatre Kingston: Sat & Sun, 2pm
Rose Youth Theatre & Players present Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. This glittering comedy about a merry war of wit between the sexes is the perfect entertainment for a summer day. Tickets are free and available on a first come, first served basis. Book on 0845 612 1253
String Theatre, The Insect Circus: Sat, performances at 10.30, 12, 1.30 and 3-3.30
The magical world of The Marionette Insect Circus will make the audience forget reality and become immersed in the strange and beautiful world of insects. Presented using short-string marionettes, the show breathes new life into the traditional techniques used in Victorian trick marionettes. Suitable for all the family.

Snow White: Sun, performances at 11am-12pm and 1-2pm
Think you know Snow White? Think again…No dwarves! No prince! Just one extraordinary journey into the mysterious world of our deliciously scrumptious Snow White. Created through technology, movement and music, Filskit Theatre invite you to follow two henchmen as they decipher messages from the evil Queen, dabble with poisoned apples and discover if princesses really do pick their noses. Suitable for families and children aged 5+

Filskit Theatre children’s workshop, Sun 3pm
Little ones can join in a practical workshop with the team at Filskit. Mixing traditional theatre techniques with multimedia (including small projectors), your children can be part of a unique theatrical experience.
Aerial Silks in the Glasshouse: Sat & Sun, 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm
Watch rounded aerialist Katie Hardwick performing from beautiful silks, suspended from the roof in the Wisley Glasshouse.

CARNIVAL - Sun from 3.30pm
As a grand finale to the Arts Fest, music, dance and fabulous costumes will fill Wisley with colour and sound as the parade dances its way around Seven Acres. Feeling underdressed? Join us in making a carnival mask (11am – 2.30pm), ready to join the parade.
Literature and spoken word

Roger Phillips: Sat 11am

Roger Phillips talks about his definitive book on wild food and how to gather it yourself. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.
Jason Hewitt: Sat 12:30am
One of the hottest new authors of 2014, Jason Hewitt talks about his debut novel The Dynamite Room, an evocative story set during the Second World War. The event will also feature 'The Starlet Scarlets' a close harmony trio singing favourite 40s tunes. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Are Gardens Art? The Debate: Sat, 1pm
Get your debating hat on as our panel of experts - including a critic, a designer, plantsperson and a philosopher - discuss whether gardens can really be seen as art. Panellists include Anne Wareham, Editor of thinkinGardens; Professor David Cooper, Emeritus Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Durham; Kathryn Aalto, professional garden designer and historian and Dr. Noel Kingsbury, Garden writer.

Simon Jenkins, Sat 2pm
Bestselling author Simon Jenkins picks 100 of the very best of England’s views, from the white cliffs of Dover to Hadrian's Wall, and explains the fascinating stories behind them. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Mark Forsyth, Sat 3pm

Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Mark Forsyth, famous for his Inky Fool blog, tells us about words and the eloquence of language in a fresh and entertaining way. He will also talk about his Independent Book Week specially commissioned essay, 'The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted', which explores such important questions as why Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy would never have met online. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Marcus Chown, Sat 3:30pm

Award-winning writer and broadcaster Marcus Chown talks about the 'Big Stuff'. How does capitalism work - or not? Why, when we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, does the 1% make such a huge difference? How can something invisible that comes down a wire power our civilisation? How do computers work, and what will computers never be able to do? How did an advanced breed of monkey like us get to dominate the Earth? A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Brett Westwood, Sat 1:30pm

Brett Westwood, much loved naturalist, author and Radio 4 presenter of Tweet of the Day fame, gives a talk packed full of extraordinary insights and memorable facts about the songs of birds. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Margaret Willes, Sun 3pm

Margaret Willes will be talking about the gardening activities of working people through the centuries, and how she went about researching this subject which has so often been neglected. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Mark Grist, Sun 3pm

Mark Grist, performance poet and battle rapper shot to fame after his Don't Flop rap battle against Mancunian MC Blizzard went viral. Mark has been Poet Laureate of Peterborough, Chief Bard of the Fens and Edinburgh Fringe Slam Champion. His double act, Dead Poets, appeared on BBC 6 Music with Steve Merchant, was shortlisted for the Wooda Arts Award, received six different 4-star reviews at Edinburgh and went on to tour nationally with Phrased and Confused. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.

Tina Sederholm & Neil Spokes, Sat: 10.30am & 2.30pm, Sun: 10.30am & 2pm
Oxford’s own poetry power couple and multiple slam winners, Neil Spokes and Tina Sederholm, present a blooming bazaar of music, comedy and spoken word. An hour of dizzying verbal virtuosity and musical miscellany, all infused with Neil and Tina’s special sauce. A £2 charge will be refunded off the price of any book purchased at the talk.
Workshops and Art

Demonstrating artists: Sat & Sun, 9.30am-5.30pm

Take inspiration from some 20 demonstrating artists as they showcase their work. There will be everything from stone and wood carving to stained glass demonstrations.
Artist in Residence Jane Wafer: Throughout
Oxford artist Jane Wafer will be working with visitors to make large 3D sculptures from natural elements, reflecting the theme of Bugs and Beastie: The Gardener’s Friends. These will be unveiled during the Arts Fest weekend.

Practical workshops for children and adults: All weekend

Test out your creative skills at our practical workshops, suitable for a range of ages from three upwards including pottery painting, felt flowers, batik silk painting, silver jewellery making, Japanese flower arranging, clay modelling, pottery and more. See website for times and prices:

Normal garden entry applies. For more information visit  



Notes to editors

For more media information contact: or ring 020 7821 3042

RHS Gardens are open every day, except for Christmas Day. Opening times and admission prices vary. RHS members enjoy free entry with a family guest.

Normal garden admission applies (RHS members free)

RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB, 0845 260 9000

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262