THE Wye Valley River Festival, which runs from Saturday, May 3 to Sunday, May 18, will illuminate the history and magic of the river's landscape and the issues that threaten it through the story of Ratty the water vole who is on the run, pursued by the predatory prosecutor Mink and Judge Wild Boar, darting through flotillas, fire shows and festivities in a ground-breaking event which brings the landscape to life while confronting the environmental issues affecting the beautiful river valley.

The twists and turns of the chase unfold in community and arts events along the river as Ratty is captured and brought to trial at a theatrical Grand Assizes in Monmouth’s 16th century courthouse on May 10, leading to a spectacular final showdown at Chepstow Bridge with massed choir, fire and flame and illuminations on May 18.

The inaugural Wye Valley River Festival is a series of stunning events that provide an opportunity for communities and visitors to celebrate nature, culture, landscape and life along the River Wye in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB Officer said: “The narrative of the festival has been shaped by the environmental and conservation issues facing the valley, its history and heritage and the concerns of local communities. These will be highlighted by the trial, which forms the theatrical centrepiece, with artistic direction from leading outdoor arts company Desperate Men.

“Alongside the narrative, a linked programme of community celebrations, walks, talks, debates, exhibitions and an imaginative collaboration of artists, communities and conservation experts will enable everyone to enjoy the beautiful Wye Valley and lend their voice to the conversation about the future of the countryside.”

The narrative starts at the Hereford River Carnival on May 3, an event produced and directed by the Hereford River Carnival Group with support from Desperate Men and the River Festival team and professional development from celebrated Irish outdoor theatre company MACNAS. It’s a full and exciting family day out taking place in the Cathedral, on Cathedral Close, Bishops Meadow, Castle Green and on the river itself.

For full details of festival events from Hereford to Chepstow, visit, where you will also find details of how to volunteer at the festival.

RivFest023/031: Ratty is pursued by Judge Wild Boar. Photo: John Teale/Wye Valley AONB

RivFest007: John Beedell and Richard Headon of Desperate Men are artistic directors for the festival. Photo: John Teale/Wye Valley AONB