Setting up an event whether large or small needs to follow a plan. Key tasks need completing – how far before the event depends on the scale, format, kind of event and number of people involved.

The starting point can obviously be different for different events. It might start with a site, an audience, a partnership, but for us it always needs to be about the storytelling. In the case of Timber, this is about how we can tell the story of the transformative impact of forests and woodlands on our lives through arts and culture, with its setting in the National Forest.

The timeline for Timber so far has gone something like this:

  1. The National Forest approached us about producing a festival which would help tell their story. (May 2017)
  2. We read lots about The National Forest and got a bit giddy and excited, because it’s a project with incredible vision and ambition and one that has at its heart the same passions and ethos that we have, rooted in a wonder for the natural environment. (May/June 2017)
  3. We dreamed up an event – we read, we walked in the woods, we talked, mostly about how we could surprise people, create a sense of wonder, instigate play, curiosity and creativity to encourage people to look at the world around them with new eyes.  (June-August 2017)
  4. We found a site that helps tell that story. (Sept 2017)
  5. It got a bit less dreamy and a bit more practical. (Oct 2017)

We started planning in earnest and needed a timeline. Some of the planning process runs concurrently while some needs to be done in an order to ensure the next step in the process can happen. We started with this:

Planning - Timber


We set some key performance indicators so that we can measure success throughout the process – because my background was in retail where we loved a set of KPIs.

Ours is a weekly timeline, created in Excel, broken down into the areas outlined above with key dates for completing tasks within each of those areas. We start with the event date and work our way backwards to the current date. It’s a working document so we update it as we go along… or at least we intend to!

Here’s an example:

Timeline - Timber

Importantly, we build in time for reflection. The timeline can keep us on track, but sometimes we need to go for a walk in the woods to get some perspective on the event as a whole… Is it still the thing that’s making us giddy and excited? Does it hold true to the essence of that original ambitious idea? And then we go back to the planning.

By Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus

Our Woodland Culture blog is supported by Making Local Woods Work, an exciting pilot project working to help support and grow woodland social enterprises across the UK.


  • Have been wondering about the planning of this so it’s interesting to read this blog. It sounds a very exciting project and knowing the site I am sure you have quite a few challenges. I hope you can find ways to overcome the challenge of access and providing what the festival needs while retaining what is special about the site (and especially the one oak bench). Look forward to reading more.

  • Hi Rumpus team. I’m the chairman of a group called “Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group” we have been funded by the national forest Black to Green project over the last two years and have built an exciting dedicated membership who love to be in and work in the woods. Although our main aim is to manage woods and use the fuel in our homes it has become obvious over the years that our members simply love being in the woods for all sorts of reasons. We hope to be involved with Timber through the Black to Green team, but I’m happy to share our thoughts if you would like to discuss.

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