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Festival Guide 2014

Third Way

It is logistically possible to attend all five of the festivals below, whether you have the stamina or inclination is another matter, but hopefully there will be something here that will coax you out of any winter-induced coma, and will help you look forward to the brighter months to come. As always, sun is never guaranteed, these festivals are all based in Britain, however, positivity is a plus, inspiration and entertainment is a certainty.


Greenbelt Festival

22-25 August - Boughton House, Northamptonshire

TRAVELLING LIGHT - Glowing after the success of its 40th birthday party, Greenbelt has packed up and headed off to pastures new and green. The grounds of Boughton House are set to be the new home for this year's festival. While it may seem hard to envisage the festival anywhere else but in its usual equine establishment, in previous years Greenbelt was more of a nomad than a fixture. The theme for 2014, Travelling Light, aims to reflect that, casting off 15 years of sedentary and making a fresh start. It doesn't look like there are going to be any radical changes, but we hope to see a few new or redesigned venues and a refreshed atmosphere.

Early confirmed acts include: Revd Mpho Tutu, public speaker, preacher and daughter of Desmond Tutu; two American Greenbelt favourites, author Nadia Bolz- Weber and Sara Miles, founder of San Francisco based The Food Pantry. For those who enjoy a dance after a day full of theologising, Jahmene Douglas of X Factor fame has been confirmed; along with BBC Folk Award winners Lau; and female-fronted punk choir Gaggle, who will be sure to produce a very different sound from last year's highly acclaimed London Gospel Choir. Last year's smash hit, Claire Balding, who seemed to win over the hearts of even the most sceptical of Greenbelters, will again be gracing the broadcasting box as BBC Radio Two host their Good Morning Sunday show, on the last morning of the festival.


Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature

30 May-1 June - Bloxham School, Oxfordshire

WAR AND PEACE - After a successful first year, Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature has announced its return for May. Poetry fans would be forgiven for thinking that last year's headliner could not be bettered - Wendy Cope stepped in last minute when the advertised Sir Andrew Motion had to back out due to illness - but how about an appearance from the current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy? Whatever your poetical preference, Bloxham Festival promises to top last year's success and provide a stimulating blend of literature, poetry, debate and dance, all pooling around our artistic interpretation and interaction with faith.

This year's theme, War and Peace, has heavy literary and political undertones, but unlike Tolstoy's classic, the weekend's events are only an hour long, with appearances from Greenbelt favourite Padraig O Tuama; Lucy Winkett and Graham Turner search for The Sound of Silence; Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries seeks to answer why so few contemporary novelists write about faith; and in an altogether different camp, Nigel Biggar and Major General Tim Cross discuss Biggar's In Defence of War. The whole event is kicked off on Monday night with readings from Carol Ann Duffy, accompanied by musician John Sampson. These two Scots will set the mood for the events to come: a weekend of contemplation and literary delights.


New Wine

26 July-1 August, 3-9 August

Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet

UNITED - There seems to be a trend among big festivals these days for theming their events under one word, possibly intending to encapsulate multiple ideas, talks, seminars and performances that could lose the festival goer in the sheer number and variety of events. Christian festivals often try and focus on the idea of the 'one', perhaps not necessarily because they are typically smaller, with fewer events, but because they like to remind the festival goer that ultimately they are gathered there for one purpose. New Wine's theme, United, reminds us of that.

Promising a dedicated programme of teaching and activities for 0s to 18s, New Wine is keen to promote itself as a family event. It has a strong youth group attendance and boasts some of the best Christian Youth works in the UK. For adults it provides a programme of speakers and seminars in the day and entertainment at night.

Confirmed speakers so far include: Danielle Strickland of the Salvation Army; HTB church warden Ken Costa; Christy Wimber of the Vineyard Movement; and Arianna Walker of Mercy Ministries UK.


Spring Harvest

Minehead One - 5-9 April

Minehead Two - 9-14 April

Minehead Three - 14-18 April

Skegness - 14-18 April

Spring Harvest's indomitable march forward into the hearts of the young, old and faithful begins this year with Minehead One, the first of four events running back to back in April that you'd think would send even the most patient of festival co-ordinator into the pits of despair. Promising to care and cater for the 'Under 5s' is no mean feat, and is one of the draws of the festival for families. And yet, year after year they pull it off with continuing success and are proud to announce the following dream teams…

Full time song-writer Pete James will be leading Minehead One, accompanied by designated bible teacher Steve Brady, author and principal of Moorlands College. Minehead Two will feature the combined talents of HTB songwriter Tim Hughes and his colleague Luke Hellebronth, along with Oxford-based bible teacher Simon Ponsonby. Moving on to Minehead Three, the much-loved, bestselling author Paula Gooder will be taking attendees through the scriptures accompanied by singer Cathy Burton. And finally, Skegness, running alongside Minehead Three, The Hillsong London team will be leading and performing, with author Malcom Duggan. All you have to do is decide which event to attend.


Big Church Day Out

24-25 May - Wiston House, West Sussex

The appeal of the Big Church Day Out, in comparison to the other festivals featured here, is that it is predominately outside. It asks you to take yourself, your family, your flock, out from beneath the comforting shelter of the church roof and into the open to do battle with the British weather. Actually a two day event, the site offers family friendly camping and a festival atmosphere. With a blend of music led worship and music performances, the festival feels more like a music festival than others, and draws around 20,000 listeners to its stages throughout the course of the weekend.

Confirmed acts so far include: GRAMMY awardwinning Third Day (not the musical division of our magazine, though an easy mistake to make); worship singer and songwriter from across the pond, Matt Redman; Scottish rock band, Royal Foundlings; the Watoto Children's Choir will make a special appearance at the festival's Tearfund Tea tent; and American folk duo All Sons & Daughters will perform their blend of acoustic folk and worship.