Urban Tree Festival by Peter Coles

Peter Coles, was one of four tree-lovers who set up the first Urban Tree Festival in London In 2018.  The aim was to fill a gap left when the Mayor’s Office switched its funding from a Tree Week in May to the London National Park City venture.   

Back in 2018 we managed to crowdfund a little bit of money and charged a small amount for walks and talks, with the four of us – and mainly Andrew Stuck (Museum of Walking) and Paul Wood (London Street Trees) – running from one event to the next.  It was, we thought, a success and by 2019 we’d gathered around us a solid steering group of tree specialists, enthusiasts, and donors to put on an even more ambitious event.   

For 2020 the fabulous programme we’d planned faced a challenge from Covid 19 and Lockdown – cancel or try to run the Festival online?  We bit the bullet and pulled off an amazing event that brought in participants not only from all over London, but other parts of the UK and as far afield as Canada and Australia. 

The 2021 Urban Tree Festival has gone into orbit as a hybrid event. There are over 80 events, including expert webinars, live and virtual walks, creative workshops, meditation sessions, a book club with well-known authors, and more. See the full programme here

There are still a few days to go and it’s not too late to book a place on one of the Zoom or on-the-ground events, but booking is essential and, while most events are free, a donation, large or small, will help us put on an even better festival next year. 

Peter will be holding a “Midday Modern Conversation on Mulberry trees” with John Collins of Hogarth’s House on Friday 21 May at 12.00 noon and then dashing into a webinar on Ancient Urban Trees with tree experts David Humphries and Greg Packman. 

Peter Coles is Visiting Research Fellow in CUCR and Associate Lecturer on the Photography and Urban Cultures (PUC) MA.  

Images courtesy of the author.


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