A Rich Seam of Themes #Greenbelt by Trevor Thorn

Pam, my wife and I have just returned from a very  memorable weekend at Greenbelt. For those who have not encountered the name before, Greenbelt is a Christian Arts Festival held each UK August Bank Holiday in the beautiful grounds of Boughton House, near Kettering. It is four packed days of music, talks, performing arts and widely varied worship. It is physically impossible to attend everything (or even one quarter of everything) but the wide variety of events and the provision for every age of guest means almost everyone can find four days worth of inspiring activity to engage them.

Greenbelt 2019 Logo Wit and Wisdom

What makes Greenbelt even more special is the amazing capacity of the organisers to bring together artists and presenters who are at the cutting edge of today’s issues and who have the ability to relate them to the Christian faith. The titling of this year’s festival ‘Wit and Wisdom’ sums up what is on offer more than adequately; so unsurprisingly, the theme of Climate Crisis/ Catastrophe was a principal theme, with a wide range of opportunities to be better informed about this issue in the light of Christians’ responsibility to be good stewards of this our beautiful but threatened planet. However, this was by no means the only theme and talks by / conversations with, Russell Brand, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Nadia Bolz Weber/ John Bell/ Cartoonist Michael Leunig all drew big audiences from among the several thousand present.

It is, to quote the homepage of the Festival, 'the 46th festival of artistry, activism and belief this August. We’re somewhere that welcomes anyone and everyone, where punks meet priests, debate meets dancefloor, and belief meets beats. In a world on fire, we’re somewhere to believe in.

If you are a writer of any kind you would almost certainly find some inspiration in such a rich range of offerings, many of which come from the edges of Christian experience. Because, for this short time of being away from our normal constraints, it is possible to observe and marvel at, not only the big themes, but the ambience and the fellow guests, most of whom are more than willing to engage in conversation. For me, the little things that grabbed me were: the amazing difference in comfort for huge numbers of people being able to shelter in the shadows of trees to escape from the searing heat (yes - really, for four days running!); the exquisite joy of small children in the presence of seriously big bubbles: and a friend’s little boy climbing on to my lap, wholly unexpectedly! 

In such a mix, talks by authors of all sorts of books; issue based, novels, children’s books were happening all around.

Why not take a look at the Greenbelt website and think about the possibility of going next year? Day visits are possible as a taster if you live within driving distance of Northampton/ Kettering. It may be the very inspiration you need to start writing yourself, or to write more if you are already an author.

And, O Yes! You will see the festival is one of those where most people camp or take motor homes/ caravans but we can say from experience this year that there is a good range of B&B/ modest cost hotel accommodation in the area but it might be wise to book early if that is your choice. If you do this, you also have an opportunity to marvel over and again at the organisation and extraordinary competence of the volunteer marshals in the car parks.

Further information about the festival can be found at The Greenbelt Home Page

You will also find an opportunity to help raise the issue of climate chaos in a song/hymn Does The God Who Lived a Human by clicking this link