Curious Arts Festival Pylewell Park Lymington Fri 17 - Sun 19 July 2015

The second Curious Arts Festival in Lymington this July promises to be bigger and better...

...although the first one was brilliant enough!

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The second of these very special  festival weekends of arts is to be held in Lymington in July.  

We are privileged indeed.  Once again we are promised a wonderful weekend of entertainment like a kind of mini Hay Festival but especially for us!

Some of the biggest names in UK comedy will join literary luminaries and guitar greats here with us in the New Forest this summer at the ‘charmingly reckless’ Curious Arts Festival, which is back for a second year from 17th – 19th July in the stunning New Forest setting of Pylewell Park.

A festival weekend of arts including theatre, films and music, featuring well known authors, actors and musicians, again promises something for all of us!  An illustrious crowd of writers, comedians, musicians and artists will gather in the beautiful grounds of Pylewell Park in Hampshire to inspire, challenge, amuse and entertain.


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Brilliant acts for this year's Festival include Number One bestselling novelists David Nicholls (One Day, Us), SJ Watson (Before I Go to Sleep, Second Life), Jojo Moyes (The One Plus One), legendary journalist Lynn Barber and author, comedian and performer David Baddiel. 

There will also be some really great  live evening music including Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music, John Illsley of Dire Straits, Johnny Borrell of Razorlight, George the Poet and many others as well as stand-up comedy from Mark Watson, Simon Evans, Lucy Porter and Richard Herring.

If that wasn't enough, the parkland will play host to the Authors XI Cricket Match, poetry workshops, the breakfast club, garden walks, hedge foraging, life-drawing, breathing lessons, snail-racing and a host of other Curious happenings including a range of great activities for children.

And, masses of comedy!  See more details below...

The Festival Programme: 

Book Online:

Follow curious Arts Festival on Twitter:  @CuriousArtsFest 

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What exactly is the Curious Arts Festival?

Having dipped in and out of last year's Curious Arts Festival myself (and along with other delighted attendees "discovered" Bear's Den who played on the Friday evening to rapturous applause and are now headlining much bigger venues!)  I'll attempt to share what it's like - although I suspect it's one of those things you just have to really experience for yourself to get it.  

As Patrick Keogh, the Festival's behind the scenes main force explained to me last year, it is a kind of mini Hay Festival but  less highbrow and elitist, much more  inclusive.  In one weekend it aims to lift us away from the day to day and into its magical atmosphere.  And it does!!  For example....wander into a workshop about songwriting  and you find yourself literally composing a song, as part of a team of completely inexperienced composers led by a charming "director" who honestly doesn't do the composing - you do!

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Wander a little further into a large marquee where erudite people are discussing a period in history about which you previously knew nothing - and get so captivated you end up going to buy a book about it afterwards!

As for the live music - well it's amazing, it's so intimate and yet so professional and worthy of a far bigger venue.  the Curious Arts team have some fantastic contacts through their art and music network, and it's because of this that they're able to attract big names to such a "small" venue.

Camping on site is amazing - you're right by the water's edge, a short stroll from everything you need.


The Curious Arts Festival is an inimitably immersive festival experience and was described by the Evening Standard last year as “charmingly reckless”!

There's an interactive programme of events for all ages includes an Alice in Wonderland tea party, night bat walks, tea leaf reading, fortune telling, garden walks, life drawing and breathing lessons.

For bookworms, a series of dazzling tented events are scheduled with some of Britain’s most remarkable contemporary writers:

David Nicholls, author of ONE DAY and US

Jojo Moyes, author of ME BEFORE YOU and THE ONE PLUS ONE

Bestselling author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP S.J. Watson talks about his new novel SECOND LIFE. 

Other star authors confirmed include Lynn Barber, Damian Barr, Anita Anand, Esther Freud, Polly Samson, Matt Haig, Sarah Hall, Tom Holland and Patrick Gale.

• A children’s tent will host dawn to dusk art activities and guest author readings with Piers Torday (winner of the 2014 Guardian children’s fiction award), John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury. Nicky Singer (author of acclaimed Featherboy) will be running a writing workshop for 9-12 year olds and the popular Bedtime Stories with author Paul Blezard will be back at 7pm nightly.

• Music from Roxy Music’s Phil Mazanera, Razorlight frontmen Johnny Borrell and Gus Robertson, John Illsley of Dire Straits, and rising star George the Poet

Other event highlights include:

• BBC Radio 4 Front Row presenter Kirsty Lang will be hosting a ‘News and Views’ Breakfast Club for early birds with author Misha Glenny and Simon Nixon.

• Curious Opera on Thursday 16th July debuts this year with a curious performance of Puccini’s Tosca. An exclusive but not elitist experience guests will be seated at a dining tables in Pylewell Park’s magnificent grounds for an ‘up close’ opera experience and can book deluxe dining packages in advance or bring their own picnics. Curious Opera tickets are available at £70 from

• A pop up fine dining restaurant and a wide variety gourmet food to go featuring local Hampshire and Sussex produce will be on offer along with a beautifully dressed cocktail bar from Fever-Tree as well as a gorgeous tea room.

The festival is also a rare chance to tour the private grounds of the house complete with 100 acres of please gardens right on the Solent.




As Patrick Keogh says:

“The Curious Arts Festival, which takes place in the magical grounds of Pylewell Park once again this July, provides a uniquely immersive international festival on a local scale, where you can come to be amused, intrigued, entertained and enlightened by a glittering array of writers, artists and musicians.


We decided to bring Curious Arts to Lymington because we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the New Forest and the magical setting of Pylewell Park. Our hope is that the festival is different to anything else on offer in the area, indeed across the UK as a whole."

And it is!

The Curious Arts Festival is "Listed as one of the UK's top boutique festivals" - The Guardian

Comedy stars line up at Curious Arts Festival this July include:

• Edinburgh Festival Award Winner and Time Out Critic’s Choice, Mark Watson

• Prolific award winning comedian and podcast innovator Richard Herring

• Loveable laugh out loud Lucy Porter will be appearing on the Saturday

• Star of BBC’s Live at the Apollo, Channel 4’s Stand Up for the Week and with a new Radio 4 show on the economy out this summer the brilliant-minded Simon Evans

• One of the most exciting new talents in recent years, in demand at the biggest comedy clubs across the UK and a regular BBC radio panellist and increasingly familiar Edinburgh Festival face Andrew Ryan

• Hotly tipped comedy writer and performer Anna Savory

• Singer of chart topping punk band Carter USM JB (Jim Bob) Morrison will be in conversation with Simon Evans and discussing his new novel

• Comedy legend David Baddiel will be reading from his first novel for children, The Parent Agency


Other information:

Mark Watson's latest novel Hotel Alpha is published in paperback by Pan McMillan on 2nd July

David Baddiel's latest novel, his first for children is published in paperback by Harper Collins on 4th June

Jim Bob (lead singer of Carter USM) has his 2nd novel Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime published in hardback by Pan McMillan on 4th June

Simon Evans hosts a new series of his 4 part BBC Radio series Simon Evans Goes to Market in the summer, a funny and insightful look at the financial commodities markets with guests


Unfortunately the Festival weekend clashes once again with Lymington Carnival.  What with that and finding the time to immerse ourselves in the whole weekend means that dipping in and out is a more likely prospect for Lymington locals - but there are tickets for all requirements starting at £30 for an evening's full of entertainment.

Tickets are available at  (at £120 and family tickets at £300).

All festival visitors are more than welcome to pitch a tent and stay on the estate during the festival – this is included in the weekend ticket price. For those who want that added touch of luxury, fabulous Glamping options ensure enjoyment of the festival in comfort and style. 

Alternatively, please call the box office on 08000  882373

Also, Waterstones in Lymington have lots of information about the authors who will be featured at the forthcoming Curious Arts Festival.


Article by Jane Porter 22 May 2015



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