Curious Arts Festival 2016

The Curious Arts Festival - music, literature and comedy for all ages

 curious arts festival lymington 2015 pylewell house


The third Curious Arts Festival takes place on our Lymington doorstep at Pylewell Park, for a glorious weekend of entertainment for all the family which starts at noon on Friday 22 July and continues until late on Sunday 24 July 2016

Family weekend tickets great value, children 13 and under free

What is the Curious Arts Festival?


The Curious Arts Festival is now running into its third year at Pylewell Park Lymington, bringing with it a host of celebrities from the worlds of literature, music, comedy, film and the visuals arts.  


It's been created especially for us in Lymington and the New Forest, because the people behind it were so overwhelmed by the loveliness of where we live and thought that a literary festival here would be a brilliant idea.


Guest artists this year include our on the literary front current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and heading the musical line up long time favourite singer songwriter Billy Bragg - really exciting to have both of them performing here on our Lymington doorstep!


 An “inclusive” literary festival – we’re all invited to join in

If you enjoy books even just a little, this is a most incredible opportunity to meet and actually chat with some of the greatest living authors and poets of our times. 


curious arts festival pylewell park new forest
It’s really hard to describe how this happens but put simply you go into a tent, take a seat anywhere (on the floor when it gets full) and literally join in. A “facilitating” chair person - often a journalist or another author - makes an introduction to the guest author’s book then asks the author him or herself some thought provoking questions...what follows turns into a fascinating discussion of literature, art, history, politics, current which everybody is invited to join.


It’s a unique opportunity for locals interested in literature to meet authors and join in discussions with them. It’s also a very special chance for anybody who simply likes books and music to just come along and enjoy the atmosphere and join in with whatever they like.


It’s free for children 13 and under and with attractions for all ages it makes for a great family weekend. There’s also free camping on site right on the Solent shore which is a privilege indeed – and with toilets and showers on site it’s great value too!


Top music acts performing just for us, in a small, intimate venue

curious arts lymington - billy bragg iconic singer songwriterThe Iconic Billy Bragg takes centre stage as the headline act on Saturday night.  Those who've never been to Curious Arts before will be delighted at the intimate nature of the setting, in a marquee, where it's possible if you wish to get RIGHT to the front!


curious arts lymington - carol ann duffyWe are honoured to be able to meet in person our current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy who has inspired - and continues to inspire -  adults and children alike with her challenging contemporary poetry. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools.


For ticket prices and booking information and the full programme line up, visit the Festival Website:

For latest news, follow the Festival on Facebook and Twitter





This year’s literary, comic and musical line up

Literary icon and our current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will perform during the day to both adult and child audiences, and renowned singer songwriter Billy Bragg will play on the music stage on the Saturday night.


This year’s festival will also feature a weekend-long Sonnet-a-thon which was launched by playwright Polly Stenham to mark the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


This year’s prize-winning and best-selling authors span adult and child audiences with something for everybody remotely interested in literature and the arts.


The packed programme of literature talks and workshops will include sessions with Deborah Moggach (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), SJ Watson (Before I Go to Sleep, Second Life), Stephen Kelman (Pigeon English), Andrea Wulf, Simon Toyne, Piers Torday, Louisa Young, DBC Pierre, Meg Rossoff, Max Porter, Gerad Kite, Andrew Miller, Jill Dawson and acclaimed newcomers Joanna Cannon and Renee Knight.


Carol Ann Duffy will be collaborating with talented musician and composer John Sampson for a performance of poetry and music on Saturday afternoon.


She will also perform for younger festival goers on the Sunday based on her 2008 book The Princess’ Blankets as part of an exciting, stimulating children’s programme across the weekend.


curious arts festival 2016 - facepainting 2015

Sonnet-a-thon to mark the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death

Polly Stenham, the English playwright (That Face, Royal Court, National Theatre) will lead a line up of authors and performers in reading all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets over the course of the weekend. Festival-goers will be invited to sign up online to take part in this event in honour of England’s most famous literary figure.


The Music Line Up – a Must for Locals!

Friday Night

Friday night’s music will be by former Bombay Bicycle Club vocalist Lucy Rose, supercool ICA stalwarts HMS Sweet Charity, and Gus Robertson (lead guitarist for Razorlight) who will be curating a very special line up of bands, DJs and performance artists.


Saturday Night

On Saturday 23rd July Billy Bragg will headline a second night of music presented by Communion Music (founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and Kevin Jones of Bear’s Den).



The comedy tent boasts children’s and teen favourite James Campbell and the lightening-quick, The Noise Next Door who are set for another Edinburgh Festival sell out run.


Whimsical, observational stand up Chris Martin and rave reviewed Lloyd Griffiths will also join Live At the Apollo star Zoe Lyons, and BBC Radio 4 host Simon Evans among others.

The Highlights - events and activities taking place during the Curious Arts Festival:

 • A Jabberwocky Hunt led by a pop up theatre group, for children aged 3 and up

• Poetry trail though the 27 acres of beautiful gardens and grounds at Pylewell Park
• Insect Walks with Pestival founder and insectophile Bridget Nicholls
• Night-time bat walks
• Mind reading
• Breathing lessons
• Life drawing
• Faber Academy poetry workshops
• A series of events by Niddfest family friendly festival, which celebrates literature and nature in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales every August
• Learn how to be lazy with The Lazy Guru Laurence Shorter; consultant, coach, comedian and author of The Mindful Art of Achieving More by Doing Less
• Puppet theatre workshop
• Shakespeare Not Stirred cocktail making with Fever Tree tonics and Scribe
• Snail racing
• Garden tour with landscape architect Wade Graham
• News and Views Breakfast Club with journalists and broadcasters Kirsty Lang, Misha Glenny, Simon Nixon and Rowan Pelling
• Tree walks
• Opera
• Cricket
• Bedtime Stories with Paul Blezard at 7pm each evening in the Children’s Tent
• Theatrical bars and foodie fare



"Come to the Curious Arts Festival to be amused, intrigued, entertained and enlightened by a glittering array of writers, artists and musicians." 


Food and Drink at the Festival

In the words of the organisers:  "delicious drinks from Fever-Tree using only the highest quality natural ingredients sourced by obsessive founders Charlie and Tim, will be served on the lawn to complement the programme of dazzling tented events and a wide variety of top notch food offers and dining options!”


Food offerings include tempting sounding dishes such as Tempura King Prawns & Chips with sweet chilli, and retro classics such as Minted Mushy Peas to accompany your Fresh Fish & Chips.

Free Camping – or try Glamping!

Festival visitors are welcome to pitch a tent and stay in the beautiful grounds of Pylewell Park 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 or Tangerine Fields will pitch a tent for you to be ready on arrival. (



Adult tickets are £199 for the weekend with separate day and evening tickets available if you want to dip in and out, or just attend the music concerts in the evenings.

Children 13 and under free of charge


How to get your Tickets:

To book your tickets click this link!   


curious arts lymington snail racing

In the words of festival creator Patrick Keogh:


“Come to the Curious Arts Festival 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. This festival is different to anything else on offer in the area, indeed across the UK as a whole!”


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