New name, new look … history lives on at Chalke valley

ONE of this country’s most interesting and unusual festivals is reborn this year, with a new name and a new look, the Chalke History Festival – formerly Chalke Valley History Festival – returns this year, from 24th to 30th June.

The changes follow the ending of the long-standing sponsorship by the Daily Mail, which saw the Chalke valley event develop to become the the biggest, most celebrated history festival in the world. The line-up each year includes many of the leading historians, broadcasters and academics, covering everything from palaeontology to 20th century espionage, with re-enactors, plays, music, food and heritage and vintage planes and military vehicles.

The website and branding have been given an eye-catching makeover, thanks to the expertise of branding agency BLOOM and digital media agency Konekt. There is a new logo, new social media handles and new domain name

Most of us are aware that we are living through a historically important period – with seismic changes from the Ukraine and Middle Eastern conflicts to AI and climate change. The Chalke History Festival programme for 2024 will reflect this, dealing with themes and concerns that dominate our lives.

And good news for those who have in the past had to make difficult choices between events on in different marquees at the same time, the festival planning team will be mixing up the timings to avoid a wall of events. There will be more panels and discussions. The aim is to provoke more conversation and debate about how the past guides us to the present and helps us prepare for the future.

Speakers already announced include James May, The Rest Is History duo Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, Max Hastings, Bettany Hughes, musician and record producer Jakko Jakszyk, and Sathnam Sanghera.

There will be more performance this year, with eight different acts and performers speaking around the site throughout the week. Themes will range from light-hearted tales through to traditional crafts, from the Iron Age through to the Second World War.

The layout of the site will be slightly different. The main tent will have a set-dressed stage, the second venue will be a vaudeville-style Spiegel tent and the newly designed outdoor stage will closer to the hub of the main activities. There will be more live music, different each night, and including a D-Day Dance on the Saturday, while on Sunday there will be a five-course lunchtime historical banquet.

The festival team is led by Tom Wright, managing director, and Roz Skellorn, marketing director. Roz is well-known locally as the marketing communications manager at The Tank Museum at Bovington. James Holland oversees the festival team as co-founder and creative director.