The Bath Festival talks about what matters

This year’s Bath Festival, more than any other year since its inception just after the Second World War, there is a need for people to get together to have all those conversations we’ve missed out on while we’ve all been in lockdown. The 2021 programme has a strong thread of themes to get us thinking, talking and sharing each other’s viewpoint on the big issues of our times.

Let’s start with our largest shared experience: the Covid 19 global pandemic.

Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a time of pandemic. Dr Rachel Clarke, who was on the NHS frontline treating patients in intensive care during the pandemic, has written an unflinching account of her experiences. She will be in conversation with Max Porter (author of Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, about love and loss). Rachel will talk about what it was like, from the worry about whether the PPE was sufficient, to treating patients separated from their families, afraid and critically ill. She also celebrates the courage of patients and staff in this worst of times. Click here to book tickets.

One of the face-to-face conversations for many of us will be on working from home. How was it for you?

Did you sit placidly calm devoting yourself to work? Or were you trying to juggle home schooling, a flickering wi-fi and not enough space at the kitchen table for everyone? Working from Home: How to Survive and Thrive will look at how we have adapted to this new way of working. Journalist, career coach and speaker Harriet Minter talks to Bath blogger Sarah Baker, offering serious and light-hearted advice on how to build you career when you’re not in the office.

It will be worth getting out of your pyjamas for this live event. Click here to book tickets.

During lockdown everyone had to tackle their own mental health and well-being.

Returning back to some kind of new normal will also re-awaken old issues. How to Look After Yourself in a Chaotic World will give us the chance to hear first hand from two women who have found the strength and resilience to bring them through. Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon (author of No Such Thing As Normal) and award-winning author Poorna Bell (author of Stronger) talk to Francesca Beauman and about their mental health journeys and what we can do to help ourselves.
Come away feeling more hopeful after this shared conversation. Click here to book tickets. 

She’s a hugely influential blogger and her non-nonsense guide Skincare has been a record-breaking bestseller. Caroline Hirons has been dubbed the most powerful woman in beauty and she’s coming to Bath to share first hand some of the facts she’s learned from her years in the beauty industry. Click here to book tickets.

There are two events which focus on specific times of our lives.

In Perimenopause Power women’s health expert Maisie Hill offers words of wisdom on a subject which many women feel is too readily brushed under the carpet. Click here to book tickets.

Getting Older (for People who Don’t Want to Talk About It). When we realise that Dad shouldn’t really be driving, or that Mum’s eccentric little ways have tipped into dementia, a down-to-earth guidebook would be useful. Fortunately for us Somerset consultant Dr Lucy Pollock, who specialises in caring for the elderly, has written such a book. Don’t struggle on your own, come and listen to some wise words and empower yourself. Click here to book tickets.

Politics and current affairs need the heat of our attention to really catch fire – and what better environment than in a socially distanced shared venue where we can hear the experts talk and form our own opinions?

Journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker will be looking back and the extensive lows of The Lost Decade: 2010 – 2020, along with some of the highs. Reflect on what now lies ahead for Britain. Click here to book tickets.

The treasures of the world in our museums – is it time we sent them home? This is at the heart of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes by BBC journalist Barnaby Phillips. It tells the story of how these artworks were essentially stolen in the 19th century by the British from Nigeria. Where does their future lie now? Click here to book tickets.

Empire and Britain’s place on the world stage will also feature in Britain Alone: The Path from Suez to Brexit. Financial Times chief political commentator Philip Stephens draws on his decades of interviews and contacts to examine where Britain stands now. Click here to book tickets.

How is our experience of art shaped by the building it is housed in? Art historian Charles Saumarez Smith talks to Holburne Museum director Chris Stephens about The Art Museum in Modern Times. Tales of his global odyssey to museums all over the world makes fascinating listening. Click here to book tickets.

How many walks do you think you have been on in the last year? 

The natural world and our relationship with it come under close scrutiny as writer and gardener Ruth Pavey talks about her own connection with the landscape. She wrote about conserving land on the Somerset Levels in the acclaimed A Wood of One’s Own, and now she’ll be talking to Jane Moore, author and head gardener at The Priory Hotel in Bath, about Deeper Into The Wood, her new book. Click here to book tickets.

It’s only human to contemplate one’s place in the world.

Comedian Tez Ilyas (as seen on The Last Leg and Mock The Week on TV) uses humour and deeply personal observation to tell us about his experiences of growing up as a teenager in The Diary of a British Muslim Aged 13 ¾. Funny, yes, but also unsettling and sad. Click here to book tickets.

The south west is about to get its first festival for working class writers and the founder of Bristol’s Festival for Working Class Writers, Natasha Carthew will invite us to consider the economic and social barriers which can stand in the way of getting published. Natasha will be talking to writers Mahsuda Snaith (How to Find Home) and Sadie Hasler (Pramkicker) about their work and insights. Click here to book tickets.

Two women’s stories from the American civil rights movement come alive in an award-winning drama. Woke by Aphia Campbell is a fast-paced and exciting, with a powerful musical soundtrack. If you’ve missed being totally swept up in live theatre, this is for you. Click here to book tickets.

Philosopher Julian Baggini invites us to look back at the invaluable wisdom of the great 18th century thinker and economist David Hume. The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us About Being Human and Living Well offers us lessons on living a good life in the 21st century. Click here to book tickets.

What matters to you?  Let us know on social media @TheBathFestival and make sure you book your tickets to these poignant events!

More news