Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Christmas fundraising – a big thank you!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Thank you to everyone who bought a raffle ticket, bid on a silent auction lot or who took part in the activities in the Great Oak Hall during Enchanted Christmas.

I hope you had as much fun as we did.

Thanks to you, we’ve raised over £4,000 to help support the arboretum.

For anyone who took part in the guess the number of lights on the trail competition, there were actually 22,189 lights. Well done to Oliver for guessing the closest.

We were particularly impressed by the amazing drawings that our younger visitors did for the children’s drawing competition. We could only have two winners but have included some of the drawings that we thought were particularly good.

Grace aged 8 and Camilla aged 6 were our winners – click on the first two images in our gallery to see their work. The gallery also includes some of the other lovely drawings entered into the competition:

Thank you also to all the amazing volunteers who helped and to Snowbusiness and Powerline for their help with the event and to Calcot Kitchens, Neil Carmichael MP, The Vine Tree, Highgove, Williams Automobiles, Kena and Sean Magee, Whatley Manor, Francois Bronn, Waitrose Malmesbury, Thomas of Malmesbury, The James Dyson Foundation, Paul Hayden from Greenwood Courses, Ballooning Network, David Ewins, The Dormy House Hotel, Margaret Headen, Bloomsbury Publishing, Jigsaw, Cotswold beauty, Tracklements, Whichford Pottery, Wentworth’s, Cheltenham Festivals, Henrietta’s House and The Bath Chorus for their generous support.

Lorraine Jones, Fundraising Manager, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

NEW! Giant undercover festive area… must be Enchanted Christmas!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

This year we have a (brand new!) giant marquee which will be an undercover area for food, drink, seating and browsing Christmas gifts. 

Under the marquee there will be lots of tasty treats including hog roast, burgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes, baguettes, mulled wine and hot chocolate, with or without Baileys. I like mine with Baileys and a great dollop of whipped cream… yum!

There will also be the children’s carousel and Westonbirt’s new Shepherds Hut, which will have beautiful Christmas decorations for sale, some of which are traditional wooden decorations from Germany.


So, if it’s raining on the night you come along – fear not, you can eat, shop and relax in the dry.

Julie McKellar
Events Co-ordinator

Handpicked market stalls with Love Food Festival… must be Treefest!

Monday, August 11th, 2014


This year, Love Food Festival will be taking over most of Maple Avenue. With their handpicked market stalls of local producers, there will be lots of exciting food to take home with you and some will be cooking and selling some mouth watering food throughout the day for you to eat, from barbecued ribs to vegetarian tapas and Portuguese pastries. More details about this years producers can be found on the Love Food Festival website. 
We have some new and exciting caterers this year as well as some happy returners!

Over in the picnic area we will have Martin and Tracy of MDB Catering. They will be bringing their very popular hog roast, plus baked potatoes and baguettes with various fillings.

Peradon Farm has moved out of the Foodhall and into the picnic area this year with their organic burgers and sausages in delicious fresh baps. 

Peradon Organic Farm- credit Paul Groom

New to Treefest is The Strawberry Chariot, selling cream teas and strawberries with fresh cream. Yummy! 

Strawberry Chariot

Also new to Treefest is a local company, Café Chameleon who will mainly be serving vegetarian world food, such as African, Mexican and Indian.

For those who like something cold, Winstones Ice-Cream who are local to us, will be selling various flavours throughout the festival. These are all made using organic milk.
Last but not least we have Stroud Brewery in the music marquee and picnic area. They will have various local ales and lagers on offer.

Stroud Brewery3- credit Paul Groom

Julie McKellar
Events Co-ordinator


Friday, March 14th, 2014

By Simon Hough, Recreation Manager

Treefest - Westonbirt at Work

One of the great joys of Westonbirt is the year-round cycle of work that goes into making the tree collection such a vibrant place.

Our signature summer event, Treefest (Saturday 23 August – Monday 25 August 2014), is very much aimed at showing some of the variety of this ‘behind the scenes’ work including many traditional crafts and skills such as coppice working, charcoal production and furniture making.

This year at Treefest we are giving special emphasis to these craftspeople and the incredibly important work they do at Westonbirt in maintaining the woodland ecosystem and the local green economy, as well as the value for visitors of much of Silk Wood.

In the ‘Westonbirt at Work’ area, you will be able to see freshly felled timber being processed by steam-powered and modern day sawmills, before it goes on to be made into tool handles, furniture, charcoal – which in turn will be used by a blacksmith. You can also see traditional hurdle and shingle making which are still in great demand today on many structures, such as our own Silk Wood Barn.

Our volunteers will be providing guided walks of this area to showcase the demonstrations and meet the many people who, at least in part, derive a living from keeping these ancient skills alive and helping to look after and support Westonbirt.

Together with these demonstrations will be our learning team who will be providing many fun family activities,  alongside den building and tree climbing master classes for budding young arborists!

You will even be able to buy some of our home-grown exotic timber from the Westonbirt wood sales, run by our volunteers, should you be inspired to ‘have a go’ at some of these crafts at home.

This is just one part of the less commercial and more educational aspects of our signature Treefest event, which takes a lot of planning and co-ordination year round to come together every August bank holiday weekend.

All of these less commercial aspects are what make Treefest so special and what makes us so proud of it.
Friends members will pay half price to attend the event and of course children go free at Treefest as they do at Westonbirt from 23 July to 31 August 2014.

This means that a theoretical Friends’ members’ family of two adults and two children will get access to the Treefest event for the whole day for £15, as opposed to £30 for non-Friends members.

Friends’ members who want to access the arboretum over the August Bank Holiday weekend will still be able to visit Silk Wood through the new Welcome Building, where refreshments and toilets will also be found.

The Old Arboretum, restaurant, shop and Exploratree play area will be within the Treefest site and unavailable to those not attending the event for these three days.

The Plant Centre will trade as normal during the event and access to it should be unaffected.

We hope you will want to come along and join in the fun this August in whatever capacity, as Westonbirt is the perfect summer’s day out for all the family.

For more information about Treefest, please visit

Final Treefest carvings revealed!

Monday, September 2nd, 2013


Over the course of the three day Treefest extravaganza we have had three expert carvers working on site to produce magical storytelling chairs for three local schools.

The Owl and the Pussycat, created by Dave LucasThe Owl and the Pussycat, created by Dave Lucas

Dave Lucas’ ‘Owl and The Pussycat’ chair is being donated to Coln House School to have in their new outdoor sensory area.

 Little Bo Peep by Raymond Wirick

Raymond Wirick has created a ‘Bo Peep’ storytelling chair which is going to Lyneham Primary School  to be put in their outdoor area for children of service personnel that are serving overseas.

'Storybooks' sculpture by Steve Griffin

The ‘Storybooks’ chair created by Steve Griffin will be donated to St Mary’s School in Tetbury for their outdoor area next to their new library.

For more information on what Treefest is about please visit our website

600 metres marked out…it must be Treefest!

Friday, August 16th, 2013

By Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 12 months since Treefest last August and now we are only one week away from this year’s festival!  

We have been busy marking out the Downs over the last 3 days, totalling just over 600m and getting it ready for when the exhibitors arrive next Friday to set up.  If your driving past next Monday (19th) look out for our lovely festival flags out on the roadside!

Crowds at Treefest

This year we have 111 exhibitors booked in, and excitingly 38 new exhibitors joining us.  Our regular exhibitors have been coming to us for years and tell us that this is their favourite event of the year.  A big thank you to them for their continuous support.

Axe Men

Another exciting bit of news is that we have the Axe Men of Mid Wales joining Treefest 2013 and will be giving us two arena demonstrations each day.  They are really popular so we are thrilled to have them at the festival this year!

Love Food Festival Logo

On the food front we have Love food Festival helping us to fill the Foodhall with delicious local producers and we have some fantastic things in store for you.   Olives, Cheese, Fudge, Wine, Organic Meat, Cider, Sauces, Chutneys, Chocolate, Cake, and that is just some of what’s on offer this year!  Come and see the wonderful produce for yourself!

Exotic Tagine

We also have some new caterers this year!  MDB Catering are back with their Hog Roast and we have baked potatoes, baguettes, Exotic Tagine, Big Pan Paella, Bath Organic Farm, Churros Garcia, Winstones Ice-Cream and Stroud Brewery. There is something for everybody!

For more information on all the things happening at Treefest 2013 please visit our website.

Local and live at Treefest, by Jon Ponting, 4014 Project.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

If you’re looking for local acts, this is the festival for you! Westonbirt Arboretum works with The 4014 Project to bring music to Treefest because of their unrivalled knowledge of the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire music scene.

Treefest music 2012

Out of the 29 acts featuring at Treefest in 2013, 11 are from Gloucestershire, 10 from Swindon and Wiltshire, and 4 from Bristol and Somerset.

Our evening headliners this year are the award winning Roving Crows and up-and-coming Swindon-based trad/folk/rock four piece Missin’ Rosie.

Our lunchtime headliners this year are the most dapper fellows of foot-stomping folk, Frankie the Gambler, and the well-respected Devon songstress, Nicky Swann.

We’ve got some amazing acts playing this year, including:

·         The Roving Crows – winners of Best Celtic Rock Band and Best Fiddle Player at the Irish Music Awards 2011

·         Pete Taylor – Dursley based songwriter who is a master of the loopstation, meaning he can beatbox, play lead and backing guitar, plus several harmonies, and loop them live to make a fluid song

·         Ben Maggs – songwriter from Cirencester… “Let’s get this right. If I heard that being played in the top 10 it wouldn’t be a surprise. Absolutely fantastic.” Paul Moss (BBC Introducing) Re: ‘Home, My Love’ played on BBC Introducing – June 2012

·         Ethemia (Berny Poulton and Michaela Mott) acoustic duo from Gloucestershire who’ve been busy playing across the country in the last year, making friends and gaining fans wherever they go. Winners of the Best Hugs award by Swindon 105.5’s The Late Show!

·         Lonely Tourist – A Bristol based Glaswegian who’s original tunes have been heard on BBC 6Music on more than one occasion! Very happy that he’s making a return to our festival.

As well as the music we’ve got singing, songwriting and drumming workshops planned for the weekend.

Here’s the full 2013 Treefest live music line-up: Click on the artists for more information.

Turning a learning centre into a wintry wonderland! by Caroline Bennett, Learning Assistant

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Christmas is coming! There’s no getting away from it now, we are in full decoration frenzy here in the learning department at Westonbirt. Today Chris and I were joined by our team of volunteers and two professional “winter effects” specialists. The task in hand is to create a magical place for visitors to make natural crafts during our Enchanted Christmas event. This is what it takes:

To turn a learning centre into a wintry wonderland:

10 sheets of moulded “ice”
11 Christmas trees
150 kgs of wax
4 trailer loads of fresh greenery
44 metres of red velvet ribbon
50 metres of green satin ribbon
One snow machine

A child enjoying crafts at Enchanted Christmas

And to prepare the crafts:

4000 pipe cleaners cut into quarters
5000 willow stems from the Somerset levels
Thousands of cones, collected from the arboretum and then sorted by species
2kg of cinnamon, lightly crushed with a sledge hammer
1kg of star anise
600g of cloves
A pile (taller than me) of large cypress branches
100 metres of muslin, cut into 15cm squares
100 fabric crayons (A quick experiment shows that this will definitely not be enough, we need at least 300 more)
60 more metres of green and red ribbon
40 balls of wool
3.5 kg of glitter
5 litres of glue
40 yoghurt pots donated by our volunteers
9 cups of tea
8 cups of coffee
1 hot chocolate
18 mince pies to feed our willing workers!

We are getting slightly over excited. I really hope you can all come to see the final effect!

Find out more and buy tickets for an Enchanted Christmas…

The Big Top is up! Nearly time for Treefest! by Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I can’t believe it, after 12 months of working on Treefest, we are now only 4 days away.

Treefest site taking shape
It always gets more exciting when marquees start to appear, and that happened on Monday when the Food Hall and indoor craft marquees were put up, and now Cherry, Maple and Redwood Avenues are all up, in the lovely blue and white stripes.

Yesterday the Big Top arrived and it’s nearly finished. I don’t think I’ve ever stood in such a large tent, it’s going to be amazing in there listening to the bands and sipping a cold beer, pity I’m working!  

The tipee has just arrived for the children’s story telling and puppetry in the Family Theatre, and the helter skelter is half built. Tomorrow the carousel will arrive. There is a real buzz in the air every time I walk out onto the site.

But there is still lots to do. All the festival flags need to go up and I’ve lost count how many we have. We already have some up on the roadside, which look very cheerful as you drive past the arboretum.

The food hall is now very full with 4 more exhibitors coming on board recently:

Bee Mercy who are providers of raw honey. A range of rich tasting raw honey containing all the natural health giving qualities.

Cotswold Gold who produce Extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil which is grown and produced on the farm in the Cotswolds. 

Their oil has been used on stage by lots of celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver, James Martin and Raymond Blanc to name but a few. Also Raymond Blanc now uses this oil at his cooking school, must be good stuff! 

In July of this year, they won “Best Food Producer” in the Cotswold Life Food and Drinks Award.

The Spice Trail is passionate about quality herbs and spices.

They stock nearly 100 different types and this is increasing all the time, if you want it and they don’t have it they will try and source it for you.

Their herbs and spices originate from all corners of the globe from Cheshire to China, Germany to Guatemala, Canada to Croatia and not forgetting of course India, the Spice Capital of the world!!

The Kooky Kitchen produces quirky cookies and bakes with strange shapes and lots of different tastes. They will also be serving Vietnamese coffee on ice.  That’s were I’m taking my coffee break!

Useful links
Visit the Treefest website for more info:

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum go free to Treefest.
Find out how to become a member…

A tree for dreamers at Treefest, by Joe Nagle, Fundraising Officer

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

At last years’ Treefest the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum invited visitors to put their dreams on the leaves of The Tree of Dreams.

Treefest 262
Some are funny like this one scrawled by a youthful hand: “I wish I had 14 chocolate bars every day.”

Others are deeply poignant: “Peace in a troubled world for young and old.”

While many more are just plain strange: “I wish the world was made of chocolate” … as if we didn’t have enough problems with global warming!

All of you dreamers who gave us your hopes and your wishes can join us again at Treefest. Come to the Tree of Dreams to find what you wished for last time and write down a new one for this coming year.

Not only can you come to make a wish but you can also find out how you can help to make Westonbirt’s dreams come true.

Make sure you visit the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’s marquee to chat to our volunteers, see our plans for the future and hear about the work we do to make sure the arboretum survives for our children and grandchildren.

Useful links
Visit the Treefest website for more info and great value early bird tickets:

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum go free to Treefest.
Find out how to become a member…

More about the work of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity…