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Viking skirmishes, owls and a giant puppet back at Derbyshire Woodland Festival

Published: 9 September 2019

They’re back! Vikings, owls and Arbor the giant tree puppet are returning to our Woodland Festival following their debut last year when they drew in the crowds.


Owls at the Woodland Festival
Children meet an owl at last year's Derbyshire Woodland Festival

Now in its 19th year, the event is taking place at Elvaston Castle Country Park on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September 2019. 

The Vikings of Middle England recreate a Viking village and its inhabitants. Meet villagers like the blacksmith, the farmer, the musician, the chandler, the woodworker and many more. Visitors can have a go at some of their crafts and find out what common ailments the villagers had and how they were treated. Watch their live combat, get to handle some of the weapons and try on the armour.

Arbor – an incredible 18 foot tall puppet, part man part tree! Arbor will go walkabout among the festival audience, telling stories and will have saplings for some visitors to take home to plant and nurture their own trees. An engaging and magical bit of puppetry.

Leading craft experts will be giving visitors the chance to see and have a go at traditional and contemporary crafts including:

  • hurdle making
  • handcrafted didgeridoos
  • contemporary and traditional chairs
  • chainsaw carving
  • horse logging
  • pole lathe turning
  • fan bird and spoon carving
  • willow and basket weaving
  • clog, barrel and oar makers

There are many more things to see including working horses, demonstrations of woodland crafts, have-a-go sessions, campfire cooking and green man songs and storytelling plus gifts, food and furniture stalls. 

Stalls at the festival will be selling bespoke gifts, craft items, textiles and timber products. Many of the items would make unique Christmas presents. 

And hungry visitors will have a wide variety of food and drink to choose from – including vegetarian and vegan options. 

A range of wildlife, heritage and tourism organisations will also be on hand to provide information and the opportunity to explore the parkland, woodland, lake, local nature reserve and formal gardens that surround the castle at Elvaston. 

Our Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure Councillor Simon Spencer said:

“Our Woodland Festival is a celebration of traditional and contemporary woodland crafts that goes from strength to strength. Every year it attracts visitors from near and far over the 2 days.

“The Vikings and Arbor were very popular last year so it’s good to have them back again.

“We look forward to welcoming both new and returning visitors for a great day out this year.”

Special car parking charges apply - £10 per car and £5 per motorcycle per day. A £15 weekend ticket is available and payment is by cash only. 

Dogs are welcome on leads. The festival is open from 10am to 5pm. Find out more about the festival and get a voucher for £1 off the daily parking charge.

Elvaston Castle Country Park can be visited all year round with opportunities for walking, cycling, horse riding, picnics and weddings and exploring the park and nature reserve.

The buildings and gardens at Elvaston are both registered (Grade 2 and Grade 2*) as being of special architectural and historical interest.