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Wye Valley River Festival returns next month to celebrate 10th anniversary year

Merry Monmouth Day will see the streets taken over by music and entertainers

Popular open access festival the Wye Valley River Festival returns this May to bring the community together to celebrate the local landscape and raise environmental awareness.

People across the Wye Valley will be able to enjoy vibrant street parades, live shows, workshops, installations and film screenings during the largely free arts and environment festival, which is in its 10th anniversary year.

Held every two years since 2014, the 2024 Wye Valley River Festival runs from Friday 3rd May until Sunday 12th May in locations from Hereford to Chepstow.

The festival opens with community feast Birthday on the Bridge on the evening of May 3

With the 2024 festival inspired by “the earth beneath our feet”, this year’s programme kicks off with Birthday on the Bridge on the evening of May 3 at Monnow Bridge in Monmouth, in which the local community is invited to bring food to share or buy from local vendors and celebrate the Festival’s “first 10 years” with an evening of music, dance and delicious food.

The following day, the Merry Monmouth Day will kick off with pre-parade activities in Agincourt Square, followed by a procession in Monnow Street, leading to an afternoon of performances and activities in Drybridge Park.

Billed as a day of music, song, workshops, theatre and playful exploration, the day will include performances of Bamboo by No Fit State Circus, a spectacular new high-impact, high-skill outdoor circus production using only bamboo and human bodies.

No Fit State Circus will peform Bamboo at Merry Monmouth Day and Redbrook Roust

Music makers can join Songs of Earth and Sky, curated by Tim Hill, workshops and open sessions to play with sound and nature or be part of the Singing Space, a space for people to learn songs and explore their voices.

The event will also include presentations from herbalists and foragers, performances by Festival resident touring theatrical troupe the Rumblers and the Composter, the latest creation from the Desperate Men, the co-founders of the festival, along with clay workshops, fabric creative sessions and dance performances of Fish Boy by 2Faced Dance.

On Sunday 5 May, the public can join a Dawn Chorus gathering from 5am in Nagshead and Highnam Woods, a paid ticket event organised by the RSPB, with Redbrook Roust taking place later the same day at Redbrook Millennium Park and Hub, featuring more songs, workshops and performances.

On the Bank Holiday Monday, Llandogo Village Hall will host a second 10th Birthday Bash, with performances, music from Nia Wyn, dancing and a community feast.

On Wednesday 8 May, Regen Ben’s Farm at Brampton Abbots, Ross-on-Wye, will host an evening regenerative farming meal and walk called Farm Walk and Fodder, with another feast taking place the following day at Together Works, Caldicot.

On Friday 10 May, pre-booked tickets are on sale for Three Acres and a Cow, a fun but poignant theatre show at Larrapurz Centre, Ross-on-Wye, retelling the history of land rights and protest in folk song and story from the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt to climate breakdown.

Running each day from Friday 10 May to Sunday 12 May, We Weave the Woods at The Glade, Beechenhurst, will mix feasts, shows, workshops and activities inspired by the woods and our connection to the earth. The festival concludes in Hereford with Hereford Happening, including a workshop by the Wye Valley Street Band, which promises to put the emphasis on audience participation, along with clay workshops with Cup Ceramics.

The two day Wonders of the Wye photo competition will take place in Chepstow on the final weekend of the festival to allow photographers to show off their talents.

The progamme is organised by Wye Valley River Festival CIC, an arts organisation led by artists and communities creating work on environmental themes.

Artistic director Phillippa Haynes said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the 10th birthday of the Wye Valley River Festival in style with a programme which aims to delight audiences both local and from afar, all inspired by the region’s glorious landscape and our relationship with the earth. The 2024 programme has quiet reflections upon past festivals, with a strong eye to the future.

“We look forward to seeing people connect with one another and most importantly enjoy their interactions as we celebrate the local landscape and raise consciousness about the environmental emergency going on around us.”

As part of the festival, more than 500 pupils at seven local schools have created an installation inspired by “the earth beneath our feet”. The pupils are producing creative works based around fungi and trees to tie in with the ecological theme.

Through the increased community outreach, local people have had a chance to get involved in programmes coming to fruition during the festival. Songwriting scheme The Cosmos Within Us explores grief through human connection with nature and the night sky, while the Mothers In All Weathers Choir, made up of mums who learn songs whilst out walking.

Artspace Cinderford is delivering a series of events and workshops connected with food stories, while a series of ‘walkshops’ are being held, featuring outdoor mobile art works involving local residents, fellow artists and environmentalists.

Through Queering The Wye, the Festival has provided regular LGBTQ+ youth sessions from the Forest of Dean to Abergavenny with a creative, environmental and craft activist focus, with 12 hand dyed banners to go on display at the festival. A Queering the Wye Craftspace workshop will be held in Hereford on Sunday May 12.

The Festival was created and developed in partnership by the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is funded by the UK Community Renewal Fund, Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, the Sustainable Development Fund, the Welsh Government, Cadw and Ashley Foundation.