From the return of some of the area’s best-loved annual events, to ongoing developments that will improve the Forest for all, 2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the Forest of Dean.
Having searched the calendar for the year’s most unmissable highlights, SoGlos shares 22 things to look forward to in the Forest of Dean in 2022 – whether you’re a local resident, seasoned visitor or exploring for the very first time.
1. Newent Onion Fayre
Newent’s wonderfully wacky Onion Fayre is back on Saturday 10 September 2022, celebrating its Silver Jubilee after a two-year hiatus.
Known all over the world for its eye-watering onion eating competition, the event is truly one of a kind, paying homage to the humble vegetable with an onion show featuring local exhibitors; live music and street entertainment; plus, a ‘funion zone’ for little visitors.
2. Superworm activity trail at Beechenhurst
Delighting younger visitors, Forestry England has introduced an all-new family activity trail to its Beechenhurst site. Based on Julia Donaldson’s beloved children’s story, the Superworm trail shines a spotlight on the Forest of Dean’s minibeast population, encouraging visitors to become a forest hero by learning all about them.
The self-led trail, which officially launched on Saturday 15 January 2022, is suitable for all ages but particularly enjoyable for families with children aged three to nine.
3. Autumn leaf peeping
With over 20 million trees aglow with brilliant reds, oranges and golds in the autumn, it’s no surprise that the Forest of Dean is one of the country’s best places for leaf peeping – an American concept that’s gained traction in the UK in recent years, with people travelling far and wide to soak up the changing season.
Leaf peepers can climb to Symonds Yat Rock for panoramic views of the golden woodlands, admire the deep red maples at Cyril Hart Arboretum and see the trees change from the medieval castle of Goodrich, just over the Herefordshire border.
4. Coleford Music Festival
Proclaiming to be the Forest’s ‘best-kept secret’, Coleford Music Festival is a summer extravaganza which sees the town abuzz with live music from a great mix of local performers – spanning rock and indie bands to folk, blues and jazz artists.
Coming to Coleford town centre on Saturday 9 to Sunday 10 July 2022, festival-goers can also expect family-friendly entertainment, workshops and food stalls championing local produce.
5. Kempley Daffodil Weekend
Famed for its sensational show of daffodils, Gloucestershire’s Golden Triangle is a sight to behold every year. With nature-lovers flocking to Dymock and Kempley to see the wild flowers bloom along the Daffodil Way, it’s certainly one to tick off your #GlosBucketList!
Ramblers can see the daffs at their best, with complimentary guided walks taking place on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 March 2022 for Kempley Daffodil Weekend. There’s also a free ‘daff and ride’ bus, plus refreshments and stalls at the local village hall.
6. Fire and Wood Festival at Dean Heritage Centre
Experience a traditional charcoal burn at one of the Forest’s most popular cultural attractions, the Dean Heritage Centre – which is one of the only places in the UK to see the ancient wood-burning custom take place.
Burning from Thursday 2 to Saturday 4 June 2022, the festival will give visitors an insight into the process which was so integral to the area’s historic iron industry, with a whole host of activities to celebrate local crafters and their work, too.
7. New contemporary sculpture exhibition at Clearwell Caves
Clearwell Caves is set to host a major art exhibition, transforming its caverns into a striking gallery space for modern and contemporary sculpture from Saturday 21 May to Sunday 17 July 2022.
Offering a unique cultural experience, Back to the Cave is the first exhibition of its kind, curated by Gallery Pangolin. And, at no extra cost, visitors can enjoy the sculpture display with standard admission to the underground attraction.
8. Ongoing developments at Lydney Harbour
Lydney Harbour has seen some major changes in the last few years, with the Forest of Dean District Council’s Destination Lydney Harbour project driving a series of improvements to transform the area into a recreational hot spot.
Visitors to the historic dockland can now grab a coffee from its on-site café, Hips Harbourside, which opened in December 2021, along with its new visitor information hub – with the installation of public artworks and improved access to look forward to in 2022.
9. Cinderford Pride in the Forest
Every year, Pride in Gloucestershire visits the county’s more rural areas to connect with members of the LGBTQ+ community who may feel more isolated – and this summer, it’s coming to the heart of the Forest of Dean.
Celebrating Gloucestershire’s LGBTQ+ community and showcasing its talent, the unmissable event is taking place at Cinderford’s Triangle in the town centre, on Saturday 17 July 2022.
10. The Faddle Fair in Coleford
A firm favourite among locals, The Faddle Fair – Coleford’s colourful artisan, craft and vintage market – is returning on Saturday 28 May, Sunday 27 August and Saturday 3 December 2022.
The fair attracts everyone from organic and fair-trade retailers to upcyclers, artists and local food producers, with some of the best gifts and produce from across the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley on display.
11. farOpen Art Trail
With approximately 50 studios across the Forest of Dean and along the rivers Wye and Severn taking part, the farOpen Art trail is taking place from Saturday 2 to Sunday 10 July 2022.
The district-wide trail provides art lovers with a rare chance to meet local artists in their studios, see their works in progress and pick up some new pieces, with exhibitions and workshops to look forward to, too.
12. Stargazing safari at Tudor Farmhouse
Aspiring astronomers can spot constellations and planets, observing the wonders of the universe from a hilltop vantage point in the grounds of Tudor Farmhouse at this unique evening experience.
Guided by expert stargazer Jim Bell, there are several chances to explore the stars this year, with experiences on Saturday 2 and Saturday 23 April 2022.
13. Wyedean Stages Rally
A must for motorsports enthusiasts, the Wyedean Stages Rally is returning to the Forest of Dean on Saturday 15 October 2022.
Spectators can catch a glimpse of the high-speed action, watching cars whizz through the trees as they compete in the rally, which runs entirely in the Forest of Dean – starting and finishing in Mitcheldean.
14. Coleford Carnival of Transport
Another one for car lovers, Coleford Carnival of Transport is bringing a fascinating exhibition of classic, custom and vintage vehicles and motorbikes to the town centre on Monday 18 April 2022.
With a craft fair, entertainment and food vendors too, there’s something to please visitors big and small at the Easter bank holiday festival.
15. Elton Giant Mazes 20th anniversary year
Celebrating a big birthday this year, Elton Giant Mazes in Newnham-on-Severn is welcoming visitors back for its 20th anniversary this summer – transforming its three maize mazes with a new design and theme for 2022.
The popular attraction also has a permanent activity maze, keeping adventurous families busy with obstacles to traverse, climb and crawl through. While its exact opening date is yet to be confirmed, it generally opens in mid-July when the maize reaches a good height.
16. Creative showcase festival in Cinderford
This spring, Cinderford’s Methodist church, The Wesley, is opening as a new arts centre for the Forest of Dean – with the local community invited to celebrate its opening at artsJAB, a jam-packed arts festival on Saturday 7 May 2022.
Kicking off with an all-singing, all-dancing parade through Cinderford high street, visitors can also enjoy performances from creatives and get involved with taster arts and crafts workshops.
17. Spring open days at Lydney Park Gardens
Step into spring at Lydney Park, when the estate opens its glorious gardens in May 2022 – with visitors able to soak up its spectacular display of spring colours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the month.
There are fascinating ruins to discover, too, including the remains of a Roman temple which sits on the summit of an even older Iron Age hillfort.
18. Coleford Area Walking Festival
Welcoming walkers to Coleford and its luscious surrounds, the nine-day Coleford Area Walking Festival is returning from Saturday 7 to Sunday 15 May 2022.
Ramblers can get involved by pulling on their walking boots and joining in with one of the group walks, with around 24 different routes in and around Coleford that are designed to suit participants of all ages and abilities.
19. Harts Barn Cookery School experiences
Hosting various hands-on cooking courses and workshops throughout the year, budding chefs can get creative in the kitchen at Harts Barn Cookery School in Longhope.
Pick up technical pasta making, bread baking and fermentation skills; learn all about vegetarian cookery or how to create South Indian takeaway specials at home; and even have a go at cooking with the fruits of your labour, foraging for ingredients in the nearby woodland.
20. Extreme runs in the Forest of Dean
Put your stamina to the test this year, with two opportunities to tackle the Forest of Dean half marathon, racing on Sunday 20 March and Sunday 25 September 2022.
Meanwhile, Forestry England’s Forest Runner sets a 5 or 10k challenge on Sunday 20 November 2022, starting at Symonds Yat Rock and treating runners to some spectacular scenery as they race to the finish line.
21. Spring bluebells
Home to some of the most breath-taking displays of bluebells in the country, visitors don’t have to travel far to see blankets of the beautiful blooms in the Forest of Dean – with hundreds of thousands of the iconic flowers springing up during April and May.
Some must-see bluebell hotspots include Cadora Woods near St Briavels; the summit and slopes of May Hill; and Forestry England sites like Beechenhurst, Cannop Ponds and Symonds Yat.
22. Forest Showcase Food Festival
Sample some of the very best artisan produce from the Forest of Dean at this year’s Forest Showcase Food Festival, returning to the grounds of Speech House Hotel on Sunday 2 October 2022.
With cheesemongers, brewers, bakers and more, ticketholders can discover over 100 local food and drink producers; watch top chef demos; participate in parent and child cookery lessons; and much more.