The Bush Craft Show

The live face of Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine, the Bushcraft Show is in its ninth year and attracts over 12,000 outdoor enthusiasts.

Aerial view of bush craft festivall

A glorious celebration of the skills needed for survival in the wild and all things outdoors, the Bushcraft Show is a glorious mix of have-a-go experiences, proper camping (complete with camp fires), music and spectacle. We talk to organiser and commercial director David Thompson.

Describe your event and how many people it attracts?
The Bushcraft Show attracts c12,000 visitors over the course of the late May bank holiday weekend. It is a jam-packed, three-day event filled with amazing bushcraft activities that takes visitors on a bushcraft and survival adventure that’s hard to forget.

People can come for the day or stay for the weekend, trying their hands at woodland crafts, firelighting, shelter building, tracking, foraging, woodland games and so much more.

Explain a bit about your venue and its history
Situated in the heart of the National Forest, Beehive Farm Woodland Lakes is, we are quite sure you’ll agree, the perfect venue for The Bushcraft Show.

You enter the site on a level grassed area with purpose built tracks encircling the main showground. There is not a building in sight, with woodland all around and views over the tranquil Horseshoe Lake.

Crowd at Bush Craft festival

In this most southerly part of rural Derbyshire, the venue offers our visitors loads of fun ways to enjoy a very special corner of the National Forest. With over 65 acres of mixed woodland to explore, filled with thriving wildlife and three lakes (one for fishing), it takes little time for people to relax and feel at one with their environment. The heady combination of activities, entertainment, demonstrations, guest speakers, have-a-go sessions, woodland and meadow camping with open fires (exclusive to The Bushcraft Show) provides an adventure not to be missed and one not soon to be forgotten.

Whether arriving from the north, south, east or west, The Bushcraft Show enjoys a centrally located site, which is easily accessed via the motorway and railway network and by Birmingham International and East Midlands Airport.

What is the event’s history?
It is now in its ninth year and continues to grow both in terms of its offering and in terms of visitor experience and numbers. The concept was to develop both a magazine and an outdoor event to cater for the ever growing interest in bushcraft and re-connecting with the outdoors.

As well as bushcrafters, we attract campers, paddlers, climbers, walkers, indeed anyone who just loves to be outdoors.

Pier leading onto lake

How does the relationship work with the venue you hold the event at?
We hire the whole site for over a week and have a wonderful relationship with Alistair Chapman who owns it. He takes immense pride in looking after the land, the trees and lakes and the flora and fauna adorning it. Alistair respects the fact that our mantra is “leave no trace”. Of an evening there are literally hundreds of campfires burning but to walk through the woodlands post event, you simply would not know it.

How did you find applying for permission to run the event?
We hire an expert (Paul Budden at Wessex Safety Services) to handle these matters. He applies for licensing, change of use, road signs, fire certification/approval, security, electrics, water etc. Additionally, Paul and his team of three attend and manage the event

How have you planned the layout of the event and what structures do you use?
There is a formula for the build and break down which changes little. The event is centred upon three giant tipis which encompass a main stage, seating for in excess of 375 people, a dance area, AV, screens, lighting etc. The event radiates and is centred around this arena.

How did you research and source your marquees, flooring, bars etc?
Mainly through internet research, word of mouth and attending event shows etc.

What entertainment do you offer?
We stage two bands each night as well as wandering Minstrels, fire-walking, fire-twirling at dusk and battle re-enactments. This is all again self sourced and, like everything else we do, local suppliers and provenance are all-important to us and the event.

Band playing at Bush Craft festival

What provisions do you make for power, lights and sound?
We have at least four main generators dotted around the site to power showers, toilets, the main stage arena, lighting towers, catering units and to serve our exhibitors/traders.

How do you manage admissions and visitor safety?
Security and Wessex Safety Services arrange this in conjunction with our c100 wonderful team of volunteers.

What ground protection do you use for cars and footfall?
We don’t need to as there is a gravelled walkway all around the main arena. We have back-up matting, tractors, gravel and straw available to cater for really inclement conditions though.

How do you publicise the event?
Through Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine, which we also publish, email and postal marketing campaigns, affiliate programmes with our sponsors/traders/exhibitors and, of course, through social media platforms.

Bush Craft wooden carving example

What challenges have you faced?
Fitting the c110 traders in as there is relatively limited space, attempted restrictions of the amount of people allowed at any one time in the bar vicinity and, a few years ago, wild and very wet weather which is now affectionately referred to as Mudfest. We learnt an awful lot from that event.

How have you financed the event?
Through our own efforts and profits from the previous event and from those derived from the magazine. It is profitable.

What are your plans for next year?
It will be our tenth anniversary so we are planning a ‘spectacular’!

What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
We don’t, although we recently introduced a glamping element around one of the beautiful lakes on site. It was a huge success and will be ramped-up this year.

What advice could you give to someone coming into the outdoor event industry?
Plan well and have contingency, don’t try to do it all yourself, consult and use experts.

Children at Bush Craft festival

25-27 May 2019

Beehive Farm Woodland Lakes
DE12 8HZ

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