Arts & Culture
by Aspect County

Charleston Festival 2022

With over 100 speakers and more than 40 live events staged over 10 days, Charleston Festival brings together a star-studded line-up of leading and emerging artists, writers, thinkers and changemakers. This year’s festival explores themes around fashion, families, history, scandal, mental health, psychology, science, belonging, travel, the environment and much more. For the first time, Charleston Festival 2022 also features a programme of inspiring events for children, young teens and their families.

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On stage this year are musician and activist Bob Geldof, actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Callow and Sheila Hancock, journalist and podcast host Deborah Frances-White, writers Damon Galgut, Armistead Maupin, Sarah Moss, Jacqueline Wilson and Monique Roffey, scientist Jim Al-Khalili, lawyers Clive Stafford Smith and Lady Hale, journalist Emily Maitlis, fashion designers Kim Jones and Zandra Rhodes, and many more.

Programme highlights
In a world exclusive, actor Benedict Cumberbatch makes his debut appearance at Charleston Festival to narrate T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in its centenary year. Anthony Burgess, best known for writing A Clockwork Orange, set the poem to music in 1978. Bringing the score to life in an extraordinary performance are Britten Sinfonia and soprano Anna Dennis.

Visionary fashion designer and artistic director of Dior Men, Fendi Womenswear and Fendi Couture, Kim Jones, will be talking to his friend and collaborator, photographer Nikolai von Bismarck, about the role of art in his creative practice and the ongoing influence of the Bloomsbury group on his work. Fashion and textile designer Zandra Rhodes explores her life on the British fashion scene and looks back at her archive of iconic designs worn by the likes of Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury, and the work of the Fashion and Textile Museum which she founded in 2003

Looking back on his life, singer-songwriter and political activist Bob Geldof discusses how his beliefs have evolved over the years and the truths he stands by today; with Oscar-nominated screenwriter William Nicholson.

Acclaimed actors Simon Callow and Jonathan Pryce will be giving a live reading of Bloomsbury group writer Lytton Strachey’s candid personal letters. They reveal a playful and uncensored portrait of a queer universe shared in glorious detail with trusted friends. 

Actress, activist and national icon Joanna Lumley will be recounting tales from a lifetime of travel that has taken her to the furthest reaches of the globe. 

In a magical family event the master of storytelling, Michael Morpurgo, will be discussing the role of animals as protagonists, our relationship with the natural world and how we can all live more harmoniously with the planet. 

Melissa Perkins, Head of Programme and Events at Charleston says: Charleston Festival is back, as bold and beautiful as ever. From global icons to explosive new talent, the programme brings together the most exciting voices of the day for the conversations that really matter.’ 

Make a day of it
The garden at Charleston offers the perfect place to relax between events. Soak up the spring flowers, which will be in full bloom, whilst sampling dishes at the food stalls or order in advance an Italian delights and a Sussex sparkling picnic hamper from Caccia & Tails. As well as the festival stage and marquee there’s also the opportunity to browse and purchase books at the pop-up bookshop from Brighton and Hove’s City Books. 

Charleston Festival 19 – 29 May 2022
Charleston, Firle, near Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6LL