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Chalke History Festival 2024 cr Steve Chick

Save the Date: Chalke History Festival 2024

The Chalke History Festival - the biggest, most celebrated history festival in the world - will this year run from 24 to 30 June. To mark the start of a whole new chapter for the event it has announced a new name and a new look, with the website and branding being given an eye-catching makeover. Aided by the expertise of leading branding agency BLOOM and celebrated digital media agency Konekt, the festival is set to make a splash in 2024 using a fresh new logo, new social media handles and the new domain name - all reflecting an exciting moment in the history festival’s life.

Histrionics 2023
Panel discussions provoking conversation, debate and - in this case - much hilarity.

History has rarely been more important than now. The Chalke History Festival programme for 2024 will reflect this, dealing with themes and concerns that dominate our current lives. The festival planning team will also be mixing the timings up a little this year, so as to avoid a wall of events all running concurrently, and there will be an increase in the number of 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. The line-up will show the threads and patterns of history and help those who visit to think about our history in different ways, as well as helping people to contextualize and make sense of the current rather tumultuous world we live in.

There will be more performance this year, with no less than eight different acts and performers speaking around the site - every day and throughout the week - from light-hearted yarns through to expert traditional crafts people, and from the Iron AgeThe Iron Age of the British Isles covers the period from about 800BCE to the Roman invasion of 43CE, and follows on from the Bronze Age. through to the Second World WarA global war that lasted from 1939 until 1945.. In addition, there will be five main venues for talks and discussions, so there will be a huge amount on offer.

The layout of the site will be slightly different too as the team has given thought to the whole experience of how visitors can view the many events on offer. The main tent will be set-dressed on the stage, the second venue will be a vaudeville-style Spiegel tent and the outdoor stage will be a honeycomb dome design and closer to the hub of the main activities. There will also be more live music, including an ABBA tribute act on the Friday night and a D-Day Dance on the Saturday evening. Each night there will be a different live music act, as well as on the Sunday a five-course lunchtime historical banquet.

Tom Holland
Tom Holland getting into the spirit at last year's festival. © Russell Emm

Details of this year’s Chalke History Festival are gradually being revealed. If history podcasts are your bag, then you are in for a treat as two of the UK’s most successful programmes will be recorded in front of a live audience. Podcast royalty Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook will be bringing The Rest is History - the most downloaded history podcast in the world, and the top history podcast in the UK as well as the US - to the stunning setting of Church Bottom where they will be sharing their incredible historical knowledge with their usual wit and camaraderie. Furthermore, World War Two aficionados James Holland and Al Murray, will be hosting an episode of their incredibly popular and entertaining We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast with their usual humour, expert knowledge of the subject and ability to disappear down an historical rabbit hole or two along the way!

Jousting was just one of the show-stopping arena displays available at Chalke 2023.

The Chalke History Festival is known for its show-stopping arena displays, and this year will be no exception. Historic Equitation - a team of historical interpreters and equestrians led by renowned horseman, Dominic Sewell - will be demonstrating the social, economic and military importance of horses throughout history, from the rise of the mounted knight to the spectacular horsemanship of the seventeenth century. They will be at the festival all week and delivering a show stopping display in the arena on the Saturday and Sunday.

Throughout the week, renowned historians and scholars will share their expertise on a variety of topics, providing fascinating insights into many different periods of history. Journalist and co-presenter of the hugely popular TV series The Grand Tour James May will be making his debut at the Chalke History Festival this summer and will be speaking about his favourite subject, cars. Award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes will be returning to talk about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and, also appearing for the first time, will be the legendary writer, actor, comedian and TV presenter Michael Palin who will be discussing his biography of his great-uncle Harry whose life was tragically taken in the First World War. Plus, acclaimed journalist, broadcaster and President of the School of Oriental and African Studies Zeinab Badawi will be talking about her new book on the history of Africa.

Adam Schuch-des-Forges
'It's all right lads: Banger's here!' Adam Schuch-des Forges captivates audiences. © Andrew Chorley

Another new addition to the performance programme is Rattlebox Theatre, who will be enchanting audiences with their puppetry and storytelling every day from Tuesday to Sunday. Their small but perfectly formed adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf will tell the epic tale through engaging storytelling, beautifully made puppets, and an evocative live soundtrack from early music maestro Steve Tyler. The ever-popular actor and raconteur Adam Schuch-des Forges will also be introducing visitors to the most remarkable officer they’ve never heard of - Major BANGER King - and sharing incredible tales of the 2nd BattalionA military unit, typically consisting of between 300 and 800 soldiers. of the East Yorkshire Regiment as they train for D-Day, fight their way into the Norman Countryside, and face countless insurmountable odds.

For the first time this year, early bird weekly tickets - which give a reduced rate if bought for the whole seven days - have just gone on sale. Booking for camping (for those who wish to bring their own tent or motorhome), and glamping (for those who prefer a little more comfort), is also now available via the festival’s new website. Another first for 2024 sees students being able to purchase half-price weekly tickets, with a further reduction on the price for camping as well.

Volunteers play a vital role in the success of the festival and the organizers are always on the lookout for enthusiastic individuals to join the team. The application process is now open via the website.

The Chalke History Festival will take place at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP. For more details about the festival, please visit the recently relaunched website at Follow all the news on X at @ChalkeFestival, on Instagram at @chalkehistoryfestival and on Facebook.


Cover image © Steve Chick

Author Info

Chalke History Festival

Chalke History Festival is the UK's largest history festival. It aims to excite, enthral and entertain about the past through programmes of talks, living history events, and programmes for schools. All proceeds from the festival have, since 2012, been directed to the Chalke History Trust, which promotes the understanding of history to all ages, but especially children.