Greenbelt Arts and Music Festival

Photo by John Spiller, Greenbelt 2007
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Summary Info Festival StoryFestival EventsOther SourcesPractical Info

Country and Region United KingdomEngland
Type of Festival Dance, Drama, Music
Location of Festival Cheltenham, Glouscestershire, England UK
Festival Contact Information

Greenbelt Arts and Music Festival
All Hallows on the Wall
83 London Wall
EC2M 5ND England UK
Fax: (44) 20-7374-2731

Festival Description

Greenbelt Festival offers an amazingly diverse programme of music, performing and visual arts, worship, seminars and social activism. To accommodate the expanding numbers of festival goers a new outdoor stage on the edge of the site was launched as a new venue for music and seminars. Over the four days scores of up-and-coming artists appear in the smaller venues. Nestled alongside the vast campsite is the tented festival village that expands directly into the heart of the racecourse, with marquees, shops and food outlets catering to all tastes.

A broad and challenging seminar programme is offered with leading speakers who have included—Bishop of Liverpool Rt. Reverend James Jones, Palestinian theologian Naim Ateek and Guantanamo Bay lawyer Clive Stafford Smith. Broadcaster Karen Armstrong has also spoken on the rise of religious and secular fundamentalism.

Greenbelt organisers have launched “Trust Greenbelt”, a charity focusing on creative responses to issues of injustice across the globe. Trust Greenbelt is prepared to take risks in supporting individuals and groups whose projects celebrate life and support the forgotten and the voiceless—throughout the globe, and via UK art-for-justice throughout the year.

Festival Dates August 23 - 26, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Story:

Greenbelt was a dream born on the unsettled non-conformist edges of the church during the early 1970s. Since the early years the festival has survived the ups and downs that have served to make the event even stronger. It all began at a pig farm, but now is now held at the Cheltenham Racecourse. This venue hosts close to 18,000 people who are drawn to listen to thought-provoking speakers, hear great music, to discuss politics, and offers settled and unsettled youth a place to actually experience a real “community.” The evangelical mission of the first festival that was held on a simple farm in Suffolk remains an important aspect of the Greenbelt Arts and Music Festival that is now held at the beautiful and scenic Cheltenham site. Greenbelt embraces and extends to all—Music, speakers, visual arts, children’s programs, comedy, worship, and literature, and much more!


Festival Events:

Music lineup 2012:
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Bellowhead
  • Seth Lakeman
  • Speech Dabelle
  • Andrew Tate
  • Casper Melville
  • Giles Fraser
  • Mark Townsend
  • Imagined Village
  • Kepow Theatre
  • Mary Grey
  • Megson
  • OperaUpClose
  • Richard Coles
  • Shane Claiborne
  • Tayo Aluko
  • Thomas Truax
  • Simon Mayo
  • Ruth Gledhill
  • Nitin Sawhney
  • The Proclaimers
  • Dub Foundation
  • Josh Osho
  • Charlie Simpson
Keynote and speakers 2012:
  • Speakers
    • Greenbelt cements its firm reputation as offering much more than any other festival experience in the UK by today announcing the first of its speaker programme. Former University lecturer Dr. Andrew Tate joins the festival to discuss his reflective interest in postmodern fiction, theory and spirituality, Professor Mary Grey will offer insight into her vast knowledge of Feminist Liberation Theology and Spiritualities, Editor of New Humanist and former music journalist Caspar Melville will also be part of the 2012 offering.
  • Lecturers
    • Esteemed lecturer in philosophy and author of several books on the modern world, Giles Fraser will speak at Greenbelt and after his recent, highly publicised departure from St Paul’s in October 2011, Fraser is an exciting addition to the speaker programme. Nationally acclaimed magician and author Mark Townsend will be part of the 2012 bill using his magic and mind-reading to unlock people’s inner wonder. This astonishing, slightly unsettling but life-affirming act is not to be missed. The “articulate, charismatic…and sophisticated operator” (Daily Telgraph) that is Rose Hudson Wilkin, who is tipped as the leading contender to become Church of England’s first female bishop joins Greenbelt’s speaker programme. Having fought for equal rights throughout her life, Wilkin’s talk will be both engaging and thoughtful revealing what it’s really like to live a double life in a parish where gang members roam, contrasted to her time spent as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Ruth Gledhill will also speak and as a prestigious and longstanding correspondent for The Times, her appearance at Greenbelt will be both informative and tantalising.
  • Stories
    • Reverend Richard Coles, a broadcaster, writer and priest, is best known for being one half of 1980s band The Communards who enjoyed three UK Top Ten hits including ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’. Coles’ multi-talented reputation meant he was an obvious addition to Greenbelt’s diverse offering. Radical partner of The Simple Way, Shane Claiborne will also engage audiences with his fascinating experiences ranging from spending ten weeks alongside Mother Theresa in Calcutta to his recent three weeks spent in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team. Plus BBC Radio 2 Presenter Simon Mayo will be speaking about his debut children’s book Itch, a fantastic action-packed thriller. A sure hits with the kids at Greenbelt this year.
Theatre and Comedy 2012:
  • Opera
    • Greenbelt is excited to be welcoming OperaUpClose, the boutique opera company who will be bringing their experimental but hugely popular sell-out production of La Bohème to the festival. Having wowed audiences and reviewers alike and recently awarded the prestigious accolade of the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Opera Production, OperaUpClose unique approach to their discipline firmly embraces the thos of Greenbelt.
  • Theatre
    • Kevin Tomlinson’s Kepow Theatre returns to Greenbelt for a show-stopping performance of improvisation and comedic hilarity. Having received five star reviews at Edinburgh Festival this year followed by a sell out tour, this is one show not to be missed, while fellow award-winner Tayo Aluko will also perform in the play “Call Mr Robeson” accompanied by an orchestra propelling his unusual baritone voice across the fields.
  • Comedy
    • Robin Ince will take to the stage with his razor-sharp analysis of human endeavor, scientific discovery and dreadful literature. And James Acaster brings his anecdotal, interactive and brilliantly funny stand-up. Having recently appeared on Russell Howard's Good News and a tour with Milton Jones, Greenbelt festival-goers are in for a comedic treat this year.


Other Sources:

Social networks:
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Practical Info:

  • By phone
    (44) 20-7374-2760
  • Online
  • Cheltenham Racecourse
    Prestbury Park
    GL50 4SH
Support Greenbelt:
  • Continuing Greenbelt’s social campaigning tradition, festivalgoers can lend their support to Christian Aid’s calls for Trade Justice, part of the Make Poverty History initiative.
  • For those interested in supporting Trust Greenbelt, or applying for a grant, further details are available via the website.


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