THE Yorkshire Rewilding Network (YRN) connects, inspires, and enables rewilding across Yorkshire and this summer the charity held the first Yorkshire Rewilding Festival and created new and innovative opportunities for more people to connect with nature and rewilding through the arts, through debate and discussion, and through networking.

The Festival was a sell-out success across its varied events. Highlights included: an illuminating, creative and collaborative evening discussing new ideas around urban rewilding in central York; a beautiful midsummer’s evening of live music, song and storytelling beneath an ancient beech tree, north of Leeds; a day of practical learning and connection for people already involved in rewilding at the Farnley Hall estate; and arts activities which inspired hundreds of families to appreciate and support nature recovery at Otley’s Chevin Discovery Day, West Yorkshire.

Claire Blindell, Community Engagement Officer for Yorkshire Rewilding Network, said: “We approached our Rewilding Festival as an important opportunity to reach out and engage with new and diverse groups of people by offering an inclusive series of events. We made sure our locations were varied, including one in a city centre, and that the events were as accessible as possible - some were free of charge, and none required prior knowledge or experience.

“We know that different people engage with nature in different ways, so it was important to reflect this in our programme. The special thing about rewilding is that it really is for everyone, whoever you are and wherever you live - rewilding has a lovely way of bringing people together. At our Rewilders’ Day, attendees told us about their rewilding plans, and they were as varied as devising strategies to encourage their street to plant bee-friendly window boxes to committing to rewilding a country estate! It just shows that everyone can do something to help nature’s recovery.”

As part of the festival more than 100 people packed a hall in central York to take part in a collaborative discussion on the future of urban rewilding and how we can reimagine our future cities as homes for nature as well as people. Panel guests, included big names in rewilding, such as Dr Paul Jepson and Rob Stoneman as well as local community innovators.

WildSong took place on June 23 at the Farnley Hall Estate. With funding from Leeds Inspired, the music and storytelling featured in this event was created specially by local artists. The story was written by Matthew Bellwood, and the music was performed by Emma Coleman, Georgie Buchanan and Seb Munday, with artistic direction from Toni Beardsall. There were two performances of WildSong and close to 100 people enjoyed an immersive experience with the natural environment, following the performers through different habitats and enjoying an uplifting tale and magical soundscape that reflected the wild and wooded setting around Farnley Hall.

The following day Farnley Hall Estate hosted a Rewilders Day. From estate managers to community rewilders, gardeners to inner-city engagement professionals, this day was for everyone already involved in rewilding in Yorkshire. Organised with a local partner, the small wildlife charity, Wildlife Friendly Otley, activities included expert panel discussions with ecologists and landowners. There was also the chance to join guided insect and botany walks, art and nature journalling workshops, and to share practical information. Perhaps most importantly, the day afforded a chance to meet fellow rewilders, and to network with others working towards a shared vision.

YRN collaborated with Otley festival, SunUp and local artist Amy Panda to bring the joy of rewilding to the Chevin Discovery day on June 25 at the Chevin Forest Park organised by Otley Nature Network and Friends of Chevin Forest. More than 350 people accessed the event, and at the YRN stall, children and adults were invited to ‘rewild’ a shoebox street with mini urban habitats, insects, mammals, and birds. They were also encouraged to sew colour and wildlife into a barren landscape embroidery, which eventually shone with ponds, wildflowers, and an array of beautiful native species.

Samantha Mennell, Festival Director, said: “The festival proved what an appetite the people of Yorkshire have for connecting with nature and helping to restore biodiversity through rewilding. WildSong brought new audiences to rewilding through the arts, and the thrill of that night of music out in the woods will stay with us for years to come. Whether you wanted to learn about nature recovery through debate, enjoy music and spoken word, visual art or simply play with your children, we had something for you. The buzz within our network is stronger than it has ever been, and we want to invite everyone to come and join us.”

If you have been inspired by the Yorkshire Rewilding Festival, there’s plenty of information to help you get started at

Here you can also join the YRN Forum and share tips and information with other rewilders near you.