Festival of the landscape – connect with nature and history
A festival incorporating more than 50 events across the Darent Valley area is taking place – and there are some fantastic and interesting events to look out for.
Festival of the Landscape is going on for the rest of May and into early July, with events taking place across the Valley in Dartford, Shoreham, Horton Kirby, Otford, Lullingstone, Farningham, Westerham, Sevenoaks and Eynsford.
There are family days out including arts and crafts, fun days, fetes, river dipping, picnics, scavenger hunts, orienteering, woodland walks looking for clues, den building, campfire cooking and photography lessons.
There are many events planned for the half term week (from May 28th) for families looking for things to do, including mono printing at Lullingstone Country Park on June 2 (10am – 1pm). You’ll be collecting leaves then creating art from them, led by a professional artist who will make it fun and creative!
You’ll also find woodland activity trails, a scavenger hunt, river dipping and river fun day, and art workshops too.
Lullingstone Country Park has a free half-term activity trail for the whole week – follow the Queen Bee Jubilee trail map and children will get a small prize at the end.
There are also drawing and painting events for all abilities including complete beginners who want somewhere to start, plus plenty for the history fan too, including archaeological digs, a medieval event, guided walks, exploration tours and history talks.
Nature lovers will also find something – including self-guided and guided Kent Wildlife Trust nature walks across the Valley, in woodlands, and across nature reserves, plus various expert talks and looking for orchids.
Kent Wildlife trust is hosting a walk this week – on Thursday (26th May); a 2-hour guided walk from 10am to share with people what a roadside nature reserve is and what species and fauna are found there.
If you like historical walking tours, a guided walk is taking place in Shoreham on Friday (27th May) from 11am – 12:30pm, led by historian Sarah Newman, taking in the churches and river, plus some fascinating facts about the area’s links to Hollywood and the book world too.
There are several events for families looking for a great day out:
Saturday 28th May
Otford Village fete, Otford Recreation Ground
Fresh from their much-publicised visit to Stonehenge, puppetry company Puppets with Guts will be there, with their giant caretaker of the earth puppet, Gnomus.
You’ll also a find free arts-based ‘ReFRAME’ landscape workshop, to discover your local landscape’s colour palette. It’s being run by professional artists who will guide you through how to reframe your environment and create your very own Darent Valley picture frame.
Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford
Step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with ‘living history’ displays including live firing of cannons and mock battles, character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons.
Lullingstone Country Park Open Day
Every activity is free, including face painting, self-led geocaching, education and storytelling events and a children’s craft school. You can also meet the rangers and visit Kent Fire and Rescue.
Sunday 29th May
Dartford Great Big Platinum Jubilee Party
Central Park, Dartford.
Puppetry company Puppets with Guts will be in Dartford too, with their giant caretaker of the earth puppet, Gnomus.
The free event will also offer a concert, balloon modelling, ReFRAME art workshops and Dartford Arts Network’s Ice Cream Van mobile art initiative, encouraging communities to explore art with a professional artist on-hand to help.
The majority of events are free but some have small charges – all details of dates, times, prices and booking info is available on the website of the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is behind the festival:
The Partnership, which is run under Kent County Council, aims to get people into their local landscape to enjoy it, learn its history and help to protect and conserve it.
Much of the Darent Valley is unchanged from previous guardians and farmers who themselves protected its heritage and encouraged others to appreciate it.
Landscape painter, etcher and printmaker Samuel Palmer, who painted the area around 200 years ago, described it as ‘Earthly Paradise’. He lived in the Valley and influenced by William Blake, who he met when he was around 19, painted many pieces inspired by the Shoreham landscape.
The festival encourages people to find the beauty that’s on their doorstep and bring it into their lives for health, wellbeing, mindfulness and connecting – both with nature and each other.
If people are holding their own events that link into the festival theme, contact the organisers to speak about incorporating in into the festival to benefit from promotion: