If you're a regular reader of this blog, you might remember how much we loved our first trip to Curious Arts Festival last year, so we're delighted to have been asked back again. For those of you not 'in the know' it's held in the grounds of Pylewell Park, near Lymington in the New Forest, and this year will run from 21-23 July. You can visit for the day, evening, or all weekend, and, a little unusually for a book festival, events aren't individually charged - one ticket gives entry to all events within your chosen time-slot (though some workshops have a small extra fee).
As the date is getting closer, I've been keeping an eye on the programme, so the important question is Who would I like to see?
Firstly, the literary 'headliners' -
On Friday - Rachel Joyce, author of best-selling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, will be there as part of a tour promoting her latest book, The Music Shop ;
Saturday - Joanna Trollope, author of so many highly-acclaimed novels, talking about her most recent, City of Friends;
Matt Haig discussing his recently published How to Stop Time, the tale of a man who is much, much older than you'd think, and which is to be filmed starring Benedict Cumberbatch;
On Sunday there's American author Dave Eggers whose Heroes of the Frontier is a tale of one woman's escape to the wilderness
and poet Lemn Sissay.
Then I'd really like to catch Eimear McBride, whose debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing won so many awards - and there are others I know little or nothing about but sound like they could be interesting. Robert McCrum talking "life, death and the endgame" in Every Third Thought; Rick Stroud's Lonely Courage telling the stories of female spies employed in WWII; Tony Juniper and What's Really Happening To Our Planet; marine biologist Dr Helen Scales; gardeners to HRH the Prince of Wales Isabel and Julian Bannerman ... I'm just hoping none of these events clash ...
The literary events aren't the sum total of Curious Arts Festival though - there's a comedy line up each evening, headed by Ed Byrne on Saturday, and music later at night - ranging from Tom Odell to the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra with the Music of Bond.
Each day has a selection of "Curious Adventures" - the festival opens with a cricket match on Friday afternoon, you could join in with a choir, catch a drinks masterclass or listen to the recitation of Paradise Lost, try your hand at life drawing or sculpting something in clay, take part in Jane Austen parlour games, or chill out in the Kanga Wellness Spa.
For children there are arts. crafts and musical activities all day long, writing and songwriting workshops, and films and cartoons to start and end the day. They can go Hunting the Jabberwocky with Jack Union, Victorian Monster Hunter, or on a nature walk where they'll hear tales of insects and the natural world. They probably won't even need the bedtime story session to send them to sleep.
And, as if the festival wasn't wonderful enough already, there's the food ... alongside pizzas and a BBQ offering rare breed sausages and a hog roast, there's Japanese cuisine, Nepalese curries, seafood, a pop-up bakery, and a specialist vegetarian supplier, with beers, cider and sparkling wine by Chapel Down, and cocktails by Fever Tree to round off your meal.
All that's left to chance is the weather. Hopefully it will be as gloriously sunny a weekend as last year.
For more info, tickets, details of camping/glamping options, or to pre-book your Curious Adventure check out the Curious Arts website