Chalke Valley History Festival returns

THE Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of history, will be back this year, from 23rd to 27th June, returning after the pandemic caused the cancellation of all major festivals and events in 2020.

The festival, at its spectacular setting on farmland at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, will run from the afternoon of Wednesday 23rd to the evening of Sunday 27th June and will be one of the first big ‘live’ events of the summer, starting just two days after the proposed lifting of Covid restrictions on 21st June.

After much consultation with the relevant authorities and key stakeholders, the five-day event, which has been made possible by a generous grant from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund, will take place in accordance with government guidelines, with strict health and safety regulations where necessary.

As an outdoor festival, many of the planned activities will be centred around two big marquees and two new stages that will also host talks. The festival will offer its usual amazing line-up of eminent historians, academics and writers, with talks, topical debates, living history and activities for children.

Festival chairman James Holland says: “We are incredibly excited about the festival’s return.  It will be the first big family event to take place in nearly 18 months, and I know the general public, currently starved of real-life festivals, are desperate to get back to some kind of normality.

“This will be a fabulous chance for families to go out, have fun, meet friends across the spacious layout of the site, to soak up some culture in a safe environment. It goes without saying that the safety of all those attending will be our upmost priority. The programme is going to be wide-ranging with lots to see and do, and we really can’t wait to welcome everyone back!”

Instead of the usual Festival for Schools, the festival team will be creating a wealth of specifically generated content ready for the start of the academic year in September. This will include filming curriculum-based talks from leading academics and historians relevant for students in Years 10 and 12, and filmed material for Years 6, 7, and 8. In this way the festival will provide a long-term, free digital resource in line with the aims of the Chalke Valley History Trust.

Salisbury MP John Glen says: “The Chalke Valley History Festival is one of the jewels in the crown of the area’s cultural life. It is wonderful news that it can proceed this year. It will be a huge boost to the morale of both history buffs and the many local businesses, which supply and support the festival.”

The full programme and more detailed information about what’s in store this year, will be unveiled shortly, and tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday 19th May.

Meanwhile, checkout #ChalkeTalks for podcasts of talks by historians at the festival from the past ten years and for more details about the festival, visit