The Festival of the Earth: How to engage your family with the issues of climate change

Wakefield Cathedral and makers markets will be part of The Festival of the Earth

Wakefield Cathedral will host a variety of events and exhibitions as part of the Festival of the Earth to help raise awareness of the climate crisis - Credit: Wakefield Council

With the impact of climate change more prevalent than ever, now’s the time to take action and do your bit towards protecting our planet. 

One Yorkshire community leading the way through raising awareness of environmental issues and the impact of global warming is the district of Wakefield. In 2019, Wakefield Council declared a climate emergency and made a pledge to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Illustration of the Festival of the Earth in Wakefield, by Vicky Scott.

The Festival of the Earth will take place across the Wakefield district from July to October (illustration by Vicky Scott) - Credit: Vicky Scott

This year, to encourage residents to engage with these important matters, the Council is hosting the Festival of the Earth – an exciting programme of events, activities, and workshops running from July to October, 2021.

“Through this high-profile festival we want to encourage local communities to discover more about how they can help to support the environment and join the fight against climate change,” says Cllr Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport.

“It’s also an opportunity for our young people to take action and make lifestyle changes to help take care of the planet and preserve it for future generations, both locally and worldwide,” he adds. 

Here, Cllr Graham shares four ways you and your family can join the Wakefield community and engage with the issues of climate change.

1. Learn from exhibitions  

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As part of the Festival of the Earth, there will be a range of incredible installations, sculptures and exhibitions across the Wakefield district for all ages to enjoy and learn from.   

Throughout July, Wakefield Museum will host A World of Good – an immersive exhibition exploring the urgent issue of climate change. Featuring contemporary sculpture, animation and sound, as well as letters by 19th-century environmentalist Charles Waterton and the knowledge of Sir David Attenborough and Michael Palin, the exhibition is a call to action, empowering us all to be kinder to the environment. 

Other highlights include Gaia by Luke Jerram – a spectacular, seven-metre floating replica of planet earth created from detailed NASA imagery, hosted at Wakefield Cathedral from August 20-30. The Cathedral will also be home to the Dandelions & Double Yellows exhibition from July 10 to August 15, which explores our relationship with often overlooked plants. Another event not to be missed is the Ithaca: Fire and Ice sound and light installation, which addresses the impact of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, held in the former market hall from August 21 to September 3.  

2. Get involved in workshops

Child taking part in a workshop at The Festival of the Earth in Wakefield

Children can take part in fun and engaging works themed around climate change - Credit: Wakefield Council

Hands-on activities can be a great way to engage with environmental issues, especially for children and young people. Head to the Art House on July 31 to enjoy a jam-packed day of eco-themed workshops, activities and exhibitions, or explore the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s new partnership with The Oak Project – a programme of creative activities exploring our kinship with the natural world.  

Budding scientists can enjoy 15 days of free science and recycling workshops in association with Renewi at the former market hall from August 21 to September 4, while those with creative flair can take part in the Hepworth Wakefield’s Greening the City project to create a sound installation as part of the Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life exhibition. 

3. Go to see a live performance

If you’ve missed live performances during lockdown, be sure to check out the return of Long Division Festival on September 25 and a programme of rehearsed readings and activities themed around global warming at Theatre Royal Wakefield (dates TBC).  

The district's libraries will also be hosting a programme for children and young adults including the Summer Reading Challenge and Seaside on Tour, which features a series of interactive performances in August.  

On August 20-22, Wakefield city centre will host a weekend celebration featuring street entertainment and table-top sand sculpture workshops for kids to get involved with, as well as Plastic Ocean, an interactive outdoor performance with an 18-metre inflatable whale. 

4. Shop local 

Man selling locally made produce at a market in Wakefield

Buying from local makers and producers can help to reduce our impact on the planet - Credit: Wakefield Council

Another simple way we can reduce our impact on the planet is through sustainable shopping. As part of the festival’s programme of speciality markets, there will be the chance to try some delicious local produce and buy from independent makers. Shopping local and supporting Wakefield’s small retailers not only reduces your carbon footprint but also helps to boost the local economy.  

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