Chalke History Festival

The Chalke History Festival (formerly Chalke Valley History Festival) is the biggest, most celebrated history festival in the world. This year it runs from 24 to 30 June. To mark the start of a whole new chapter for the event the new name comes with a new look website and branding.

View photo gallery of Chalke History Festival 2024

History has rarely been more important than now. The Chalke History Festival programme for 2024 reflects this, dealing with themes and concerns that dominate our current lives. The festival planning team are also mixing the timings up a little this year to avoid a wall of events all running concurrently, and there’s an increase in the number of panels and discussions. The aim is to provoke more conversation and debate about how the past guides us to the present and helps us prepare for the future. The line-up shows the threads and patterns of history and helps those who visit to think about our history in different ways, and also helps people to contextualise and make sense of the current rather tumultuous world we live in.

This year is historic in a number of ways. Not only does it mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, and the largest amphibious invasion in military history during the Second World War, but it also bears witness to a truly remarkable milestone in human history. In 2024, over four billion people – more than half of the world’s population across more than 40 countries – will go to the polls and the global political landscape could be profoundly changed forever. At the Chalke History Festival, these important topics and more will be discussed.


Hear from a number of household names including James May, The Rest Is History duo Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, Max Hastings, Bettany Hughes, musician and record producer Jakko Jakszyk, journalist and author Frank Gardner, Sebastian Faulks, Adam Rutherford, Feargal Sharkey plus Sathnam Sanghera.

Bettany Hughes

There are more performance this year, with no less than eight different acts and performers speaking around the site – every day and throughout the week – from light-hearted yarns through to expert traditional crafts people, and from the Iron Age through to the Second World War. In addition, there’s five main venues for talks and discussions, so there’s a huge amount on offer.

Frank Gardner

The layout of the site is slightly different too. The main tent is set-dressed on the stage, the second venue is a vaudeville-style Spiegel tent and the outdoor stage is a honeycomb dome design and closer to the hub of the main activities. There’s more live music, including an ABBA tribute act on the Friday night and a D-Day Dance on the Saturday evening. Each night there’s a different live music act, as well as on the Sunday a five-course lunchtime historical banquet.

Over 200 fascinating talks, given by incredible historians and entitled ‘Chalke Talk’, can be heard on the Chalke History Festival podcast. These talks have been taken from more than a decade of festival appearances.

2024 sees the return of the hugely popular Saturday Night Party at the festival. Visitors should get ready for the raucous sounds of the swing age at the D-Day Dance, which takes place in the new, stunning Spiegel tent and will feature The Swing Ninjas. Blending vocal harmonies with a mix of New Orleans’ swing and vintage UK jazz, the group brings an authentic, up-to-date approach to the sound of a 1930s band. Also getting everyone on their feet that night will be The Polka Dots who will be bringing the swinging sounds of the 30s, 40s and 50s to the party, and will be stunning visitors with their beautifully blended voices, high-energy dance routines and eye-catching designer costumes. Dressing up is encouraged, but not essential.

Chalke Festival for Schools

With over 18,000 children having visited the festival since its launch, the Chalke Festival for Schools makes a major contribution to history education and brings the subject alive in new and exciting ways. Over three days, and featuring a wide range of curriculum-based subjects, pupils are given the chance to experience the sights, sounds and smells of history through a programme of interactive and immersive activities. Monday 24 June is for Years 10, 11 and 12, Tuesday 25 June is for Years 6,7,8 and 9, and Wednesday 26 is SEND day, which is open to all ages and which provides a programme that is less structured and takes place in a quieter environment. Topics and themes for this year include The French Revolution, The History of Pies, Tudor Women, Sword Smelting, The Rise of The Mounted Knight and The History of Infectious Disease.

Getting there

Church Farm,
Bury Lane
Wiltshire SP5 5DP

Follow the signs to the Festival rather than your SatNav

Nearest train station: Salisbury