Festival of Nature 2022 – what happened?

6th July 2022

What an incredible ten days of Festival of Nature! This year's festival saw 94 amazing events take place across Bristol, Bath and online by 100+ delivery partners, all aimed at helping people connect with the natural world. After two years online, we couldn't wait to be able to return to in-person events while also being able to still offer a digital programme to extend the festival beyond the Bristol and Bath region. Did you come along to one (or more!) or the events? What was your favourite?

Join us in looking back at this year's festival...

Action Day, Friday 10th June

We kickstarted this year's Festival of Nature with Action Day on Friday 10th June - an opportunity for every person to take purposeful action for nature. Individuals, schools, community groups, organisations and businesses across Bristol and Bath took on activities and opportunities to help nature’s recovery.

Action Day events included: a litter picking and wildflower bed session in Lawrence Hill with Bristol Waste, a river clean up on the mighty SeaCycler boat with Sustainable Hive and Babcock, nature-inspired gardening tips with Stokes Croft's Dove Gardens team, and litter picking and plant box building with Flourishing St Paul's.

We gave out 500 Action for Nature packs to residents of the West of England with wildflower seeds for planting, a beautiful 'insects to spot in summer' poster by Marian Hill, and a postcard inviting people to take a meaningful action for nature - and to tell us about it!

Photo 3 by Ania Shrimpton

This year's festival hosted a number of exhibitions that ran for the entire week, online and in Bristol and Bath. We were able to support the British Ecological Society with their annual 'Capturing Ecology' Digital Photographic Exhibition, which takes users through a virtual 3D gallery of spectacular winning photographs of the natural world. In Bath, local artist Marian Hill held an outdoor exhibition, 'Buzz and Scuttle', inviting people to learn more about insects through a gallery of her beautifully detailed images. In Bristol, St George's Bristol hosted an outdoor photo trail, encouraging passers-by to look out for the wildlife that calls the city it's home.

Weekend one, Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 June

Photos 1,3,5,6 by Paul Blakemore

Our first weekend of this year's festival was jam-packed full of exciting events offering people the chance to learn about, connect with, and take action for the natural world. Our Green Social Prescribing programme kicked off with opportunities for people to come together and get active in local green space, with Nordic Walking and Men's Walk & Talk taster sessions. The rest of the weekend saw a range of fantastic events, including a brilliant talk by BBC Green Planet's Producer and Director Paul Williams at Watershed, giving our audience special insight into the making of the series and working with Sir David Attenborough. We also sat down with author and science communicator Sophie Pavelle, in conversation with Dr Clare Wilkinson from UWE about her new book 'Forget me Not: Finding the forgotten species of climate-change Britain'.

From den building at Bath City Farm to Family Gardening Workshops at Blaise Plant Nursery, we joined forces with a number of Bristol and Bath organisations and venues to encourage families to get into nature together over the first weekend. Our online events series began with discussions with Blue Ventures and the RSPB, stories from Voices of Future Generations, and a draw long session with award-winning artist Lauren Cook.

Photos by Paul Blakemore

Sunday hosted our Family Nature Party at Bristol Beacon, Dive into Ocean Nature & Conservation Day at Severnside Sub Aqua Club, and open play afternoon at Felix Road Adventure Playground in St Paul's - a very busy day full of family-friendly nature fun! We welcomed over 2000 people to Bristol Beacon for our day of musical performances, arts and crafts workshops, talks and storytelling, games and science experiments, and inspirational stalls all about engaging families with the natural world.

In the week, Monday 13 - Friday 17 June

Photo 3 by Alive Activities, Photo 4,6,7 by Ania Shrimpton

But the fun didn't stop after the weekend... throughout the week, we hosted events across Bristol and Bath and online! From digital nature writing workshops and gardening-for-wildlife sessions at Sydney Gardens, to deer talks at Ashton Court and 'Roots to Wellbeing' art in nature sessions in local park community spaces, we aimed to connect as many people as possible to the natural world, and encourage everyone to learn something new at the same time.

On the Monday, we held a Nature Content Creators Evening at Watershed, where 70 science communicators and wildlife creatives came together to connect and share ideas through short talks and workshops. It was brilliant to hear from so many talented individuals and organisations, from artists, comedians and photographers, to filmmakers, writers and presenters - we discovered so many ways to teach people about the natural world.

With so many exciting events taking place each evening, it was always tough dilemma on which sessions to attend! At the Bristol Old Vic we hosted Studio Silverback of Silverback Films, who presented their insights into tackling the planetary crisis with engaging storytelling and film-making. Just next door, we heard from Lawyers for Nature at Framework in a fascinating panel discussion exploring rights for nature, campaigning and the law. Up the road at St George's Bristol, we were joined by environmental historians Dr Andy Flack and Alice Would, Bristol City Poet Caleb Parkin and audio-visual artist Kathy Hinde to explore darkness and its connection to the more-than-human, in a poetic and reflective experience.

Photos 1,3 by Ania Shrimpton, Photo 2 by Alive Activities

Our Green Social Prescribing programme extended across the city during the rest of the week, with a number of welcoming nature-wellbeing activities taking place. From gardening taster sessions with Heart of BS13, We are BS15 and Alive Activities, to volunteering for the afternoon at St Werburghs City Farm and meadow walks at Bathwick Fields with Bathscape, it was wonderful to see so many people experiencing the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time with others in the natural world.

Each day of the festival offered several online events, livestreams and workshops, for those not local to the region or wishing to get involved from home. We met the delightful lemurs at Wild Place Project, screened new documentary films including Unlocking the Severn and Tree Yoga, laughed at zoological comedy, teamed up and played the new climate game 'Overgrown', discovered the work of the new Water Guardians Project, and learnt new google earth mapping skills with University of Southampton.

In Bristol, we joined forces with Bristol Ideas and hosted George Monbiot in conversation with Olivia Sweeney about his new book Regenesis and how we can transform our food system's relationship to the living world. As part of Festival of Ideas, we welcomed acclaimed nature writers Niellah Arboine, Natasha Carthew, Nadeem Perera and Anita Sethi to discuss barriers in working class writing and launch the Nature Writing Prize for Working Class Writers.

Photos 1,6 by Ania Shrimpton, Photo 4 Hamish Kale, Photo 2 by Alive Activities

The momentum of this year's festival ran all the way into the end of the week, with the glorious weather creating perfect conditions for some of our final outdoor events including the Healthier with Nature conference at Grimsby Farm and our twilight wildlife adventure in Bath on the Friday.

It was brilliant to come together with Natural England, NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and other environmental organisations at the Healthier with Nature networking conference, to celebrate and reflect on the impact of the Green Social Prescribing pilot programme and showcase tasters of the activities happening in the region. With inspiration from the ongoing work, Green Social Prescribing was a significant feature of this year's festival, exploring opportunities to connect people with the natural world to help lift personal health and wellbeing.

We explored nature at night in Bath City Centre later on the Friday, with an exciting evening of stargazing with the Bath Astronomers and bat detecting with Bathscape, discovering the importance of darkness and how the city's wildlife and night skies come alive after dark.

Online, we had the pleasure of hosting Jerome Lewis, Flourishing Diversity Co-Founder and Anthropologist, in conversation with Choctaw scientist Dawn Hill Adams of Tapestry Institute, exploring some of the ways indigenous ways of thinking about humans and nature can help us serve earth systems in need of healing.

Weekend two, Saturday 18 June

Photo 7 by Rosie Jack

This year's nine day festival ran all the way until the following Saturday, with a fantastic finale day full of activities connecting people to the natural world. We joined forces with the Avon Wildlife Trust and held a full day of nature-based fun at Grow Wilder, including reducing pesticide use workshops, pond dipping and bug hunting, and allotment tours and picking sessions. As part of the Green Social Prescribing programme, Avon Wildlife Trust hosted several Wellbeing with Nature sessions at Grow Wilder during the week, exploring the benefits of being in green space for mental health.

Across the city in Lawrence Hill, we had a brilliant time at the University of Bristol micro-campus at Barton Hill Wellspring Settlement for a day of family science fun. University of Bristol scientists and students talked about plant evolution, dinosaurs, armadillos engineers, environmental pollution and more!

In Bath, we joined up with Your Park Bristol & Bath and University of Bath to do a mega bug hunt across Brickfields Park. It was a wonderful day of searching and recording the bees, beetles and butterflies that live in the park and finding out the importance of creating space for insects.


A huge thank you to the Festival of Nature 2022 sponsors Wessex Water, Heritage Lottery Fund UK & Worshipful Company of Grocers, our 14 partners, our amazing 40+ volunteers, and every organisation and venue that was part of such a great week of events. If you missed the opportunity to fill in an evaluation form, we'd still love to hear your feedback on the format of this year's festival - and see your photos if you came along! Get in touch: festival@bnhc.org.uk