Idler Festival, Fenton House

Idler Festival

Idler Festival - Credit: Archant

Once again the small magazine takes over the grounds of the Queen Anne house in Hampstead for three days of ‘philosophy and merriment’

National Trust Fenton House Idler Festival

National Trust Fenton House Idler Festival - Credit: Archant

For the third year running, the folk at The Idler magazine take over Fenton House for three days of "philosophy and merriment".

Running from July 12-14 it features headline talks by broadcaster Louis Theroux, poet John Cooper Clarke, actor Sally Phillips and musician Chris Difford in the idyllic setting of Hampstead's Queen Anne mansion.

The drill for the weekend is an eclectic but crucially unstrenuous blend of cocktails, humour, music and well informed chat - think poetry, ukulele and harmonica workshops, drawing, beekeeping, tarot reading, swing dancing, and agony aunt 'salons' throughout the house and gardens.

Gospel Oak's national treasure Michael Palin, who headlined last year, called the festival "an Arcadian idyll".

"A beautiful house and garden. The ideas and talks are all the better for being aired in the open. Immensely civilised…a balmy, magical atmosphere."

Festival director Victoria Hull said: "I love this programme. Planning it feels like being a magpie - picking all the most sparkling performers we spot and bringing them here to the Idler nest in gorgeous Fenton."

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Speaking at the festival launch last week, Tom Hodgkinson who launched the magazine 26 years ago said they were committed to "the spirit of fun, fulfilment and liberty."

Now boasting 3,800 subscribers, he joked that over two and a half decades "our rate of growth has been stratospheric. We've gone from a two person operation to a three person operation and now a four person operation (though two are part-time).So we've not quite created the giant Playboy style publishing operation that I had envisaged, drinking cocktails next to snail shaped swimming pools, wearing dressing gowns all day and opening Idler bars all over the world."

He added: "But we're still here. The really important thing about the magazine and our events is our celebration of the romantic, Coleridgean spirit of merry-making, and liberty, and philosophy".

Tickets £105 are available from