Take a digital detox and experience the great outdoors with Nature Connections 2016

25 August 2016

With recent research highlighting that smartphone addicts are significantly more anxious than nature lovers, the University of Derby’s Nature Connections Festival is returning for its highly anticipated second year.

The free two-day festival, which attracted more than 2,000 visitors last year, will take place on Friday September 9 and Saturday September 10, 2016.

And it promises to encourage visitors to try something new outdoors, discover a new skill, and learn about the arts, nature and the benefits of the environment.

Chris Packham, presenter of BBC Springwatch and famed naturalist, joins the festival once again as the keynote speaker. Chris will also be on hand to give advice to aspiring television nature presenters who will have the chance to present to camera in the University’s broadcast studios.

Returning special guests also include coveted nature writer Jini Reddy, freelance food and nature writer Josh Sutton, alongside this year’s Speaker’s Corner, which includes local politician Chris Williamson speaking about hunting and topics from Water Quality and Human Health Implications’, to ‘Born to Bird’ – a discussion by 14-year-old Bird Girl on her experiences of birdwatching.

Chris Packham

Across the two days there will be a variety of performances and live music such as upcoming soul singer and songwriter Jamie Joseph, as well as exhibitions, screenings, clay hedgehog making, and chainsaw carving while enjoying locally-made ice cream from Bluebells Farm. Saturday offers our inaugural Dog Show where all entrants will be welcomed.

Professor Chris White, Head of Department of Media and Performing Arts at the University of Derby, said: “Nature Connections manifests our creative ecologies area of research and the festival is a fantastic way to engage and interest people who have not yet discovered the joys and benefits of a closer relationship to the arts and the natural world.”

Dr Miles Richardson, Head of Psychology at the University of Derby, who recently carried out a survey to study people’s phone use and their connection to nature, added: “Technology is often cited as a reason for our disconnection from the natural world but smartphones are here to stay.

“Nature connectedness isn't about going back to some halcyon days where we lived in harmony with nature. It's about realising our place in a wider ecology here and now. Technology must play a role in that and smartphones are clearly powerful and engaging tools.”

The festival, which aims to channel nature through art, history, health and wellbeing will be open to schools and community organisations on Friday September 9 and to the general public on Saturday September 10 at our Markeaton Street Campus and Sturgess Field.

For further press information please contact Adam Mallaby, University of Derby Press & PR Officer, on 01332 592289 or email