Tonbridge’s Festival of the Environment brings home plight of planet

After the success of the inaugural venture, the directors Kat Portman Smith and Amanda Carpenter have assembled a wide variety of experts to assess man’s impact on the natural world in A Festival of the Environment.

They are bringing together explorers, authors, politicians, chefs, artists and campaigners for the three-day event at the EM Forster theatre in Tonbridge School from October 4-6.

The festival aims to inspire, challenge and entertain all ages with well-known names appearing alongside local specialists.

Mrs Carpenter said: “Time is running out and we face a ‘climate emergency’. It is tempting to despair, but with the growth in activism and commitment by business, government and communities there are reasons to be optimistic.

“This festival offers advice, inspiration and encouragement to take action and make changes to save the planet.”

The weekend will begin with BAFTA-winning naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall giving an illustrated talk entitled Voyages to Undiscovered Places, accompanied by a panel discussion on the Politics of Climate Change.

The brand new Wilderland Film Festival will be showing big screen stories from the natural world by independent international filmmakers.

Visitors will be able to view an environmental photographer exhibition, and the final day will feature hands-on workshops for families including bee-keeping and performances by Arbor, the 17ft high part-man, part-tree.

NATURAL TALENT: Steve Backshall will present Voyages to Undiscovered Places

The line-up also features the Artic explorer Pen Hadow, poet Anthony Wilson, author Peter Fiennes and Laura Clout of the pressure group Extinction Rebellion.

Among the experts are Shell’s Chief Climate Change Adviser David Hone, the UK Head of Corporate Sustainability for BNP Paribas Anjuli Pandit and the Head of Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund UK Gareth Redmond-King.

The festival will also include local contributors such as Green Party councillor April Clark, eco-friendly distillery company Greensand Ridge from Shipbourne, horticulture lecturer Stefan Jordan of Hadlow College and the head gardener of Tonbridge School Stephen Harmer.

Mrs Portman Smith said: “The environment and living sustainably are issues that affect all of us, so we really hope that audiences of all ages and interests will find something in this packed programme.

“Lots of events are free or £5 so we would encourage people to drop in over the weekend, have a coffee, view the exhibition, watch a free performance and maybe listen to a talk or take part in a workshop.”

For the full schedule and ticket information visits

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