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New Festival A Hit for the Forest of Dean

The first Forest Activities Festival took place in the grounds of The Speech House Hotel on Sunday 27 April 2014, offering locals and tourists alike a wealth of indoor and outdoor pursuits to try.

bike1Whether you’re hoping to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle or simply looking to take up a new hobby, there was everything from archery, mountain biking and bush craft to cookery, photography, golf and throwing pots on offer from a whole host of local businesses. Some of our most popular activity providers were at the event including Go Ape, Pedalabikeaway Forest Hills Golf club, Taurus Crafts and Forest of Dean Adventure.

artspace trapezeQuirkier activity stands such as Artspace invited you to try your hand at trapeze and circus skills.Or if you’d rather a less adrenaline fuelled excursion, the Forest of Dean Ramblers and Walking for Health stands provided a stroll down to the Speech House Lake.

Little ones could learn all about the flora and fauna of the forest from the Forestry Commission throughout the day, while the more adventurous kids could unleash their inner Bear Grylls and build dens out of natural materials.

vaporMusic was not missed out with performances from 16 yr old Devon Cassells & the Lydbrook Ukulele band who until three years ago had not even picked up a ukulele and now they are spreading the love of the jumping flea wherever they find an audience.

Outbreaks of community singing were heard as The singing club will be appearing with the brilliant, charismatic Karl Daymond of Opera Playhouse. The Forest of Dean Singing Club is all about enjoying the art of singing and music-making and you will be able to join in their workshop.

ian goughInternational Welsh rugby star and London Irish player, Ian Gough was there to kick off the event. Ian appeared in support of the charity ‘Hire a Hero’. There were even rumours that there will be an English player on site for a Wales V England activity. The RFU and GRFU had a stand which featured a fun passing challenge testing peoples passing accuracy. At 2pm they were showcasing the new rules of play for the under 7 and 8 age groups in the main arena. Local teams from Bream, Drybrook and Westbury were there to showcase their skills. Many came along and supported local rugby and the stars of the future.

Innovative and original artists, makers and designers showcased and sold their work in our arts & craft marquee with some art based workshops available to take part in also. The Forest Showcase, the largest food festival in the area hosted their own food hall and dished out delicious local produce. The showcase included an eclectic mix of new food producers alongside their regulars.

hilltop1The event featured many displays, demonstrations and taster sessions, including Hill Top birds of Prey who were be on site with Rolo, Spartan, Yorkie, Dexter & their friends.

A dog show was organised by Greyhound Rescue West of England (GRWE), the leading greyhound rescue charity in England and Wales. Categories included Handsomest male dog, Prettiest female dog, Best puppy (under 1 year), Best Veteran (>9years), Best Rescue dog, Dog the judge would most like to take home. The Gloucestershire branch of the charity hosted a stand at the event and brought along some dogs who were looking for their forever homes.

FODDIY Films were showing new and collected films by local DIY film makers. The 1 to 10 minute long films are about all sorts, from balloons in space, horse riding, cheese rakes, to exploding cabbages.

With the chance for visitors of all ages to explore everything the fairytale Forest of Dean has to offer, whilst raising heart rates and excitement levels to boot, the Forest Activities Festival was hugely successful and is now set to be a real highlight on the county calendar for families in particular, so come along next year & have a go!.