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July’s Curious Arts Festival

A photograph of Pylewell Park

Photography: images one and three copyright © James Gillam; second photograph copyright © Richard Hanson/

Summer 2016 – the heat was sweltering for a couple of days until the wind started. It was a very strange weekend in terms of weather, two days of basking in the sun and the next you were looking for a puffy jacket, but it was a fantastic few days that made for some great memories, and lead to the discovery of a few now favourite books.

The festival takes place in the grounds of Pylewell Park in the New Forest. Now in its fifth year, 2018’s dates are Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd July. The line-up is better than ever.

On the music side a big announcement recently made – John Newman will be playing a concert on the Saturday evening. And TV choir master Gareth Malone will be hosting a stunning Sunday evening featuring various pieces from his time as a choirmaster in The Choir and Military Wives.

A photograph of an audience clapping

In books and poetry, Lemn Sissay heads the line up, and Matt Haig, Kate Mosse, and Rupert Thomson will be in attendance; the latter was in conversion at Curious in 2016.

The comedy line-up is yet to be announced. (Last year saw Ed Byrne and Paul Tomkinson, and Zoe Lyons attended in 2016.) There is also always a lot of events for children.

Two whole days of events in one area where you can come and go as you please, and a well designed Friday late afternoon and evening that seems all day in itself. For what is available the price is very good. Early Bird Tickets Weekend Tickets are £103, with the full price Weekend Tickets set at £128. Family tickets can be purchased for between £191-279, depending on when you book them. Tickets for children are £23 for the whole weekend and under 5s are free.

The ticket prices include camping costs – you can park your camper van or pitch your tent at the campsite which reaches from just beyond the estate’s garden wall to the river’s edge. Your trip from bed to breakfast in the morning is between 30 seconds and a few minutes. If you’d rather your accommodation is set up for you you can glamp in a luxury bell tent or hire a VW camper.

A photograph of people eating at a dining table on the lawn

Food on site provides all three meals of the day. Companies currently confirmed include Cheeky Burger, The Green Grill (vegan options), Pad + Sen for your noodle fix, Juma for Iraqi street food, Savage – sea food, and Purbeck Ice Cream. There will be a couple of coffee companies in tow.

And the cherry on top? You can bring the dog.

For full details, tickets, and T&Cs please see the Curious Arts website.

Do you have plans for the summer?


mary mayfield

March 8, 2018, 10:22 am

I’ve got the date in my diary. Hopefully I’ll see you there :) Last year was awfully wet BTW but I still had fun

Tracy Terry

March 8, 2018, 8:45 pm

A perfect length as far as I’m concerned. The camping (yes, even a luxury bell tent or camper van) aside, I’d love to attend this.