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Dawn Chorus - where the Festival begins!

DAWN CHORUS - created by dawn sky and dewdrops, birdsong and beauty, minstrels and musicians, storytellers and circus skills, poets and performers, and celebrated by them and you! 

Lawn Woods, High Street, Old Town SN1 3EN


As the sun rises over sleeping Swindon, this all-weather outdoor event marks the start of the twenty-eighth Swindon Festival of Literature.
Note. Social-distancing and Government roadmap guidelines apply. Full event will be filmed, recorded and appear online! 

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MICHAEL MCCARTHY – on spring in the time of coronavirus, in conversation with Mike Pringle.


One of the greatest discoveries that has come out of the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of Covid19 has been the consoling power and inspiring worth of Nature.
Our primal need to be out in it, its amazing ability to be balm for body and soul and to restore us to our life-loving selves is ample evidence of that.
In an astonishing paradox, not only was last spring the toughest of lockdowns but also the most beautiful springtime ever recorded, with more sunshine than in any previous comparable season. 
While normal daily life in the human world was hitting the buffers, life in the natural world was flourishing as never before. 
That time, both beautiful and distressing, has been perfectly captured by three leading nature writers, Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott, and Peter Marren, in The Consolation of Nature. Spring in the Time of Coronavirus.
Today’s guest, Michael McCarthy, is a prize-winning author, one of Britain's leading environmental journalists, and has been shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Nature Writing Prize.

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Most events are FREE to view at the advertised times!
But the Festival needs your help, to survive this year and return next.
Suggested minimum donation: £5 per event. Thank you!

EILEEN JONES – in conversation with parkrunners, on how parkrun has changed lives. Presented in association with Lydiard parkrun and Seven Fields parkrun

This event is dedicated to the memory of Tariq Hussain.  


What 5k event for runners, joggers, walkers, and volunteers has become a global phenomenon with more than seven million participants weekly worldwide? What activity has been hailed as the most significant public health initiative of our time? What is one of the best things you can do with other people at 9am on a Saturday morning? Answers on a barcode, please. 
Writer, journalist, former fell-runner, and now 260-run parkrunner, Eileen Jones, is the author of newly-published how parkrun changed our lives. Her next dream project, for which she’s gaining considerable if not entirely fantastical support, is the production of a new show: parkrun the musical!

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ANITA SETHI – on a journey of reclamation in a natural landscape of England. 


Where does each of us belong? What in our natural environment makes us feel most at home? How can wide open spaces help us breathe more deeply and feel strangely secure?
Broadcaster, journalist, and award-winning writer Anita Sethi is the author of I Belong Here: a Journey Along the Backbone of Britain in which she transforms a negative personal experience into one of universal resonance and optimism, offering a call to action, for us all to keep walking onwards in places we know, love, and where we belong. Every footstep taken is an act of persistence, every word written an act of resistance, against hate speech, and towards the healing power of nature.

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SAM LEE – with stories of a special songbird, in conversation with Linda Lee.


Every year, as darkness falls on woodlands, the nightingale sings and heralds the arrival of spring. Throughout history, its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers, and artists around the world. 
In his newly-published book, The Nightingale - Notes on a songbird, passionate conservationist, renowned musician, and folk expert Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale, revealing in beautiful detail the bird's song, habitat, characteristics, and migration patterns, as well as the environmental issues that threaten its livelihood.
Come to the forest, sit by the fireside, or maybe just at your laptop, and listen as Sam tells the story of the nightingale.

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Photograph: Dominick Tyler

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