Visit the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean

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Half term intrigue at Puzzlewood

Indulge in some fishy fantasies with storyteller Roger Drury. Photo: Soundwork C.P.

Indulge in some fishy fantasies with storyteller Roger Drury. Photo: Soundwork C.P.

There will be tales from the deep at the magical ancient woodland site of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean this half term holiday, when families get their first chance to dip a toe in the rising waters of the Wye Valley River Festival.

With plans for this year’s unique, watery extravaganza well underway, The Caravan of Myth and Legends – Babbling Books will be revealed at Puzzlewood on February 15, two days after the tourist attraction opens for the season (February 13).The caravan, sponsored by Puzzlewood, is one of three themed vehicles which will form a key part of the travelling entertainment at the Wye Valley River Festival as it flows through venues between Hereford and Chepstow from April 29 to May 15.

To give an idea of the mystery, wonder and intrigue which the festival promises, Coleford writer, performer and storyteller Roger Drury will be creating and inventing at the caravan every day except Wednesday, from 12noon to 2pm, from February 15 to 19. Families can join him to share stories about the Wye and its tributaries and let their imaginations run wild. Roger says: “Once a place under the seas, Puzzlewood has a little known history of its salty side. As we prepare for this year’s Wye Valley River Festival, people are all wondering what might be coming up and down the rivers, spluttering and splashing..”

Families will also get their first chance to explore the caravan, stuffed full of poetry, stories and tales of rivers from around the world, which will be added to at creative sessions up and down the Wye Valley in the lead up to the festival.

 Help make Origami cranes for the arts installation One Thousand Birds. Photo: Kathy Hinde

Help make Origami cranes for the arts installation One Thousand Birds. Photo: Kathy Hinde

There are more flights of festival fantasy at Puzzlewood, too, on February 18. From 11am to 3pm there will be creative sessions making Origami cranes to help populate Kathy Hinde’s arts installation One Thousand Birds which will be on show at Tintern Old Station Signal Box as part of the Wye Valley River Festival from May 6 to 15.

The atmospheric enchantment of Puzzlewood, popular as a location for TV series and films including Dr Who, Merlin and most recently Star Wars: The Force Awakens, makes it an appropriate place to launch The Caravan of Myth and Legends – Babbling Books, which the visitor attraction is also sponsoring. Puzzlewood manager Helen OKane says: “The caravan is a perfect match for a place which has been called the most magical on earth.”

Puzzlewood is open over the half term holidays from February 13 to 21; then Wednesdays and weekends until March 25 and thereafter daily until the end of October. Half term also sees the launch of Puzzlewood’s new app, featuring interactive games.

The Wye Valley River Festival, from its spectacular launch in Hereford on April 29 to the fabulous finale at Chepstow Racecourse on May 15 will celebrate the River Wye and its connections to other rivers and people of the world, under the theme Global Arteries. The biennial event, inspired by the landscape of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is led by the Wye Valley AONB unit and arts professionals collaborating with local communities. “It is a festival that aims to inspire and challenge, to change the way we look at ourselves and how we see things and how we relate to our environment,” said Sarah Sawyer, community links officer with the Wye Valley AONB.

Visit the website www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk for more information about the Wye Valley River Festival; follow on Twitter: @wyebeauty #wyevalleyriverfestival or like the festival on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ wyevalleyriverfestival.

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