At Fenton House, Hampstead, 8-10 July. Tom Hodgkinson has the details
As you know, the Idler is all about merriment and it feels great to have just finalised the programme for our summer festival at Fenton House and Garden in London NW3. It’ll be a splendid weekend of rest, reflection and resistance, and such a treat to get all our favourite people together for three days of fun, conversation, music and high-quality booze in a beautiful venue.
Our headliner is Jarvis Cocker – ya hay! He’ll be talking to us about his brilliant new memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop, which starts with a rummage around the ephemera in his attic.
We’re delighted that Lea Ypi is appearing: she has just won the Ondaatje Prize for her book Free, which chronicles the fall of communism in the author’s native Albania.
Literary legend Margaret Drabble is on the bill, as are three of our favourite philosopher-comedians, Sally Phillips, Ben Moor and Arthur Smith. Arthur will be conducting one of his legendary walks around the house and gardens.
Archaeologist David Wengrow, co-author with the late David Graeber of The Dawn of Everything, will discuss innovative societies of the past, and medieval historians Seb Falk and Mary Wellesley will celebrate the scientific innovation and amazing creativity of the Middle Ages.
Artists Glen Baxter, Lauren Child and Gavin Turk will be there, and you’ll get handy life tips from that renowned self-help guru for people who hate self-help gurus, Oliver Burkeman. David Bramwell will take a magical trip through Moominland.
I’m also looking forward to seeing Akash Kapur who will be discussing his experience growing up in the Indian spiritual community Auroville, with William Dalrymple.
The actress Nell Hudson – grand-daughter of Cyril Connolly – will be talking to Florence Read about her debut novel. We’ll be celebrating innovative small presses with So Mayer, Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal and Lucy Mercer.
You’ll get the chance to meet Idler contributors Mark Vernon, Virginia Ironside, Clare Pollard, Guy Standing, Harry Mount.
Titans of TV John Lloyd and Peter Fincham will discuss the future of the small screen with Sally Phillips, and computer scientist Kate Devlin will address us on the vexing subject of sex robots.
Music-wise, we’re thrilled that the Warszawa Wschodnia ensemble will be singing Putin-defying Ukrainian and Polish folk songs. Charles Hazlewood will be leading a singalong, and there’ll be ukulele classes from Danny Wootton and harmonica classes from Ed Hopwood. The Times’s Will Hodgkinson will debate the future of streaming with campaigner Crispin Hunt, and there’ll ambeint music and soothing sounds in the house courtesy of The Chill Out Tent.
Plus much dancing courtesy of Oliver Broadbent of The Mudflappers.
Performing unplugged in the orchard will be Louis Eliot, cellist Midori Jaeger, medieval minstrel Will Summers, while Idler drinks writer Joe Piercy will mix cocktails. In the Sunken Garden we’ll have a brilliant silent disco.
We’ll be debating the future of work and idling with authors Sarah Jaffe and Amelia Horgan and Cambridge prof Brendan Burchell. Novelist Daisy Buchanan and editor Rowan Pelling will be looking at the troubling world of job and careers.
We’ll be learning about natural history with zoologist Lucy Cooke and entomologist Bridget Nicholls, nonsense poetry with Clare Pollard, the history of spectacles with Travis Elborough, the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft with Hannah Dawson and Amelia Horgan, and the art of green travelling with Richard Hammond.
All this plus bibliotherapy with Ella Berthoud, foraging session with Lucia Stuart, zine-making workshop, writing class from John-Paul Flintoff, cartooning with Harry Venning and beekeeping with Bill Anderson.
And don’t forget brilliant financial historian Edward Chancellor who will enlighten us on bubbles, Bitcoin and the nature of interest, novelist Louisa Young’s agony aunt sessions and our brilliant afterparty bands, Fräulein and Thrill City.
We look forward to seeing you there and if you can’t make it, worry not: we’ll be posting pics, videos and reports from the event as it happens, both on our own website and on social media.
As Michael Palin says: “The combination of Idler and Fenton House is irresistible. Where better to open the floodgates of reflection?”
Click here to see our website festival page, with more info and booking details.
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