Chalke Valley History Festival 2020

Update: 2020 Festival cancelled

Please see Chalke Valley History Show 2020 for NEW online show

From Monday 22 to Sunday 28 June, the world’s largest festival entirely devoted to history returns to Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, for its 10th year with an exciting new line-up of activities.

Spread over 60 acres of stunning Wiltshire countryside, the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is a celebration of the past like no other and is a unique array of interactive living history, activities for all the family, historic aircraft displays as well as talks and discussions with top-class speakers and household names. The Festival aims to make history accessible to all and to encourage both young and old alike to leave feeling enthralled, excited and enthused about our past.

Living History at Chalke Valley History Festival
Living History at Chalke Valley History Festival


With over 200 talks and activities already planned, the wide-ranging programme promises to suit all tastes.

Speakers already confirmed include:

  • Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher;
  • journalist and television presenter Alan Titchmarsh;
  • former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams;
  • globally best-selling novelist Tracy Chevalier;
  • TV historians Dan Snow and David Starkey;
  • international lawyer and best-selling writer Philippe Sands;
  • comedian Al Murray;
  • former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret Anne Glenconner;
  • celebrated gardener, renowned conductor Jane Glover;
  • BBC Newsnight’s Diplomatic Editor and historian Mark Urban;
  • international best-selling author Jung Chang;
  • comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner;
  • writer, commentator and broadcaster Agnès Poirier;
  • and the greatest living playwright, Tom Stoppard.


2020 of course marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day as well as the 80th of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, and they’ll be holding special 1940 and 1945 days, including talks, discussions and demonstrations. It’s also an important year for the Festival itself as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. To get everybody into the party spirit this year, there will be some exciting new changes to the Festival line-up, including a vaudeville theme, live music in the bar every night, and a beautiful new Spiegeltent. On the Saturday night, fireworks will light up the skies over the Chalke Valley as visitors take to the dance floor and enjoy a full programme of entertainment at the Victory Party, dressed up in their glad rags and Forties finery.

New for 2020

The festival will look very different this year, with living history encampments right in the centre of the Festival site. Amongst the new additions for 2020 will be four historic dwellings: Iron Age, Medieval, Tudor and a late 17th Century coaching inn. Each one will be lived in throughout the week and will include a stockaded area for animals and all the features of daily life in those periods.

Also new for this year is an SOE Training Camp, a historic brewery, an all-female crewed Russian T-34 tank, a major WWII field workshop, Soldier School, and a completely new trench experience. Plus, you can even get your lunch Tudor-style at one of the historic fast food stalls.

Air Display

For many, one of the highlights of the Festival is the series of spectacular historic aircraft displays that take place at intervals over the weekend. So, air enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the aircraft will be back this summer, dazzling visitors as they twist and turn over the Chalke Valley site.

The rich and varied Live History Live programme returns, showing the vital role of both women and men in our developing story. From domestic day-to-day living to warfare and survival, there will be much to learn from the Roman and Celtic era through to the end of the Second World War. All the living historians taking part in the activities are experts in their fields and each event will show them making or doing something from the past – and often busting many deeply entrenched myths in conversation with some of our best-loved TV historians and authors.


Last year the Festival for Schools welcomed nearly 2,500 pupils from 112 schools. Bringing together the greatest historians, academics, living historians and TV personalities to inform on curriculum-based subjects, the Festival makes a major contribution to history education and brings history alive in new and exciting ways. This year’s schools programme will run on Monday 22 June (for Years 6,7,8 & 9), on Tuesday 23 June (for Years 6,7,8 & 9) and on Wednesday 24 June (for Years 10 & 12).

Full programme and Tickets

The full programme for the main Festival, and further details about the Festival for Schools, will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets will go on sale on 28 April.