The Idler Festival: ‘Dream School’ at Fenton House

The garden at Fenton House

The Idler magazine is holding a new three day festival at Fenton House from 13-15 July with headliners Michael Palin, Sally Phillips and John Lloyd.

Bringing together a carefully curated line-up of artists, wits, performers and characters, The Idler are aiming to ensure unexpected treat after treat.

Festival-goers will be treated to classes, debates, music and the chance to step back from the frenetic pace of modern life and indulge in the pleasure of idle contemplation and learning.

Who will be there?

Michael Palin will be in conversation with The Idler editor, Tom Hodgkinson, on the myth of idleness. Philosopher Edith Hall will be speaking on Aristotle and his praise of leisure. There will be recitals of Chopin and Handel. Oldie editor Harry Mount will lead a walk on Hampstead’s architecture and Mary Shelley’s biographer Fiona Sampson will talk about the creation of Frankenstein.

" The combination of Idler and Fenton House is irresistible. Where better to open the floodgates of reflection?"
- Michael Palin

For Fenton House, the festival marks a new phase of programming delivered by partner organisations, bringing new audiences to the 17th century London house and its beautiful walled garden, a haven of peace and tranquillity just minutes from Hampstead tube station.

The garden at Fenton House and Garden
The garden at Fenton House and Garden
The garden at Fenton House and Garden

‘We want to build relationships with partners to deliver experiences that resonate with people today,’ says Sara Nichols, Fenton House & Gardens Manager.

" Fenton is the place to feed mind and soul and we’re looking forward to seeing the house being occupied in a new way."
- Sara Nichols, House and Gardens Manager, Fenton House

For 25 years, The Idler magazine has been breaking the mould in terms of content and its alternative philosophy on life.

A three day dream school

Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson says: ‘For three days we’ll be turning Fenton House into our dream school. It will be Plato’s Academy meets the Hay Festival, and we’ll be teaching our curriculum of philosophy, husbandry and merriment with the finest tutors. In a utilitarian world, we are celebrating useless pleasures.’

Agony Aunt Virginia Ironside will be conducting a salon in Lady Binning’s bedroom, while outside the Idler will teach dancing lessons and ancient philosophy. There will be tea on Fenton’s fine lawns as well as ukulele and harmonica sessions.

Fenton House exterior from the garden terrace
Fenton House exterior from the garden terrace
Fenton House exterior from the garden terrace

Plus Penguin Café’s Arthur Jeffes, investigative journalists Carole Cadwalladr and Peter Jukes, historian Matthew Green, poet Murray Lachlan-Young, anarchist professor David Graeber, writer and critic Laura Freeman, comedy writer and actor Ben Moor, and Dr Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London.

Important information

Date: 13-15 July 2018    
Times: Friday 13 July 6pm-9pm, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 July 12-7pm
Venue: Fenton House and Garden Hampstead Grove, London, NW3 6SP

Tickets from the organisers:  Tel: 0203 176 7907