Widely regarded as the leading family festival of arts, music and spoken word in the UK, Greenbelt is delighted to be able to announce that Mercury Music Prize winner Speech Debelle; audience favourite Bruce Cockburn; live folk sensation Bellowhead and the fantastic, sell-out OperaUpClose are among the first clutch of acts to be confirmed for 2012. Hosting a rich programme of visual and performing arts, spirituality, comedy, talks and debate Greenbelt takes place from 24th-27th August at Cheltenham Race Course. Tickets are on sale now and available from the festival website.

This year, Greenbelt will offer festival goers the richest and most diverse cultural programme available anywhere on the UK festival circuit in what will be a triumphant celebration of the arts, music, justice, tolerance and community. Critically acclaimed South London artist, Speech Debelle will bring her soulful and raw blend of poetic and powerful rhymes to the Greenbelt mainstage, combining tracks from her Mercury Music Prize-winning album with the recently released new album ‘Freedom of Speech’. With her devotion to politics and social issues and musically inspired by the likes of Michael Jackson, Tracy Chapman and Meshell Ndegeocello, this South London wonder is the perfect act to join the Greenbelt party this summer.

Canadian-born Bruce Cockburn brings his ever-evolving folk brilliance to Greenbelt’s Friday mainstage. Having been compared to the likes of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, Cockburn is known for his virtuoso guitar playing and powerful political lyrics including hits “If I Had A Rocket Launch” plus “Wondering Where The Lions Are”. Joining Cockburn, fellow folk sensation Seth Lakeman will bring his bow-shedding violin riffs and driving tenor guitar rhythms, creating a magical atmospheric vibe filled with charismatic and passionate energy. Bellowhead will perform for the first time at Greenbelt with their “full throttle…rare and exhilarating” (Q Magazine) live showcase, rousing crowds to their feet in what is set to be a sensational performance. Described by the Daily Mirror as “one of the country’s greatest live outfits”, the 11-piece collective are previous winners of the Best Live Performance award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and have recently returned from their sell-out UK tour. Audiences should prepare to dance like they’ve never danced before!

Further additions to the line-up include BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners The Imagined Village plus “hot property” (The Guardian) folk revival band Megson with their infectious sounds and heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars. Thomas Traux will stun festival goers by using his bespoke inventions of strange self-made instruments in a surprising spectacle. Last but by no means least for the festivals music stage, Brooklyn-based, multi-instrumentalist and former member of American indie rock band The Hold Steady, Franz Nicolay, who is famed for combining the accordion and piano in unique way, will be making his debut at Greenbelt in 2012.

Greenbelt cements its firm reputation as offering much more than any other festival experience in the UK by today announcing the first of its speaker programme. Former University lecturer Dr. Andrew Tate joins the festival to discuss his reflective interest in postmodern fiction, theory and spirituality, Professor Mary Grey will offer insight into her vast knowledge of Feminist Liberation Theology and Spiritualities, Editor of New Humanist and former music journalist Caspar Melville will also be part of the 2012 offering.

Esteemed lecturer in philosophy and author of several books on the modern world, Giles Fraser will speak at Greenbelt and after his recent, highly publicised departure from St Paul’s in October 2011, Fraser is an exciting addition to the speaker programme. Nationally acclaimed magician and author Mark Townsend will be part of the 2012 bill using his magic and mind-reading to unlock people’s inner wonder. This astonishing, slightly unsettling but life-affirming act is not to be missed.

The “articulate, charismatic…and sophisticated operator” (Daily Telgraph) that is Rose Hudson Wilkin, who is tipped as the leading contender to become Church of England’s first female bishop joins Greenbelt’s speaker programme. Having fought for equal rights throughout her life, Wilkin’s talk will be both engaging and thoughtful revealing what it’s really like to live a double life in a parish where gang members roam, contrasted to her time spent as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Ruth Gledhill will also speak and as a prestigious and longstanding correspondent for The Times, her appearance at Greenbelt will be both informative and tantalising.

Reverend Richard Coles, broadcaster, writer and priest, is best known for being one half of 1980s band The Communards who enjoyed three UK Top Ten hits including ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’. Coles’ multi-talented reputation meant he was an obvious addition to Greenbelt’s diverse offering. Radical partner of The Simple Way, Shane Claiborne will also engage audiences with his fascinating experiences ranging from spending ten weeks alongside Mother Theresa in Calcutta to his recent three weeks spent in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team. Plus BBC Radio 2 Presenter Simon Mayo will be speaking about his debut children’s book Itch, a fantastic action-packed thriller. A sure hits with the kids at Greenbelt this year.

Greenbelt is excited to be welcoming OperaUpClose, the boutique opera company who will be bringing their experimental but hugely popular sell-out production of La Bohème to the festival. Having wowed audiences and reviewers alike and recently awarded the prestigious accolade of the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Opera Production, OperaUpClose unique approach to their discipline firmly embraces the thos of Greenbelt.

Kevin Tomlinson’s Kepow Theatre returns to Greenbelt for a show-stopping performance of improvisation and comedic hilarity. Having received five star reviews at Edinburgh Festival this year followed by a sell out tour, this is one show not to be missed, while fellow award-winner Tayo Aluko will also perform in the play “Call Mr Robeson” accompanied by an orchestra propelling his unusual baritone voice across the fields.

“We’re thrilled to announce the first names to Greenbelt’s 2012 Programme. With such diverse acts from the likes of Speech Debelle, OperaUpClose and Bellowhead, this year’s offering really does set Greenbelt aside from others on the festival calendar. This year we’ve developed the line-up to offer credible acts from around the world showcasing the best in the arts, music, visual and performing arts, comedy, talks and discussion. We look forward to seeing you in the field.”Paul Northup, Festival Director.

Greenbelt 2012 – Saving Paradise – takes place 24th-27th August on Cheltenham Racecourse. Celebrating 39 years on the festival calendar, year-on-year over 20,000 people enjoy the fantastic offering. Delivering a rich and diverse programme, Greenbelt committed to its support of the arts while encouraging and embracing the values of tolerance, dialogue, justice, faith and hope. A festival that gives so much, Greenbelt provides all that attend with a spellbound and life-affirming experience.

Tickets are now available from the Greenbelt festival website or via 020 7374 276. Prices are fixed until 30th April 2012 and adult weekend tickets are £99.00; adult concession weekend tickets are £68.00; under 18 weekend tickets (5 to 17 years) are £55.00; family weekend tickets (2 Adults, 2 Under 18s) are £259.00; single parent family weekend tickets (1 Adult, 2 Under 18s) are £165.00 and infants (0-4 years) go for free.

“No matter who you are or where you come from or what you believe in, if you’re open-minded and care about the arts, or think for yourself and forge your own opinions, you’ll be at home in this place.”
Art Rocker

“Britain’s greatest festival… The content, the opportunities to be challenged, affirmed, welcomed and angered as well as entertained and introduced to new things… it’s enough to make me nostalgic the day after it finishes.” The Huffington Post

“I believe in dialogue, and that’s what Greenbelt is all about.” Peter Tatchell

“Have to say, Greenbelt totally surprised me… after Glastonbury, my favourite festival this year.”
Mark Thomas

“I was deeply impressed by the mood and spirit of the festival. Most people were Christians and almost all had some religious faith but there was absolutely no dogmatism. Everyone was welcome and there was a shared spirit of belief in justice and caring.” Clare Short

“I believe in dialogue, and that’s what Greenbelt is all about.”Peter Tatchell

“People here are very questioning, not merely of other people, but of their own thoughts and beliefs too. It’s a very thoughtful festival.” Robin Ince

“Greenbelt was an eye opening experience. Here was a Christian festival where I was made to feel welcome and included. Here were people, like me, committed to a better world, where poverty and injustice were no more and who were prepared to put their faith into action.” Mohammad Imran


Editors Notes

Greenbelt Festival takes place annually over the August Bank Holiday weekend, gathering together artists, musicians, speakers and performers, alongside 21,000 festivalgoers at Cheltenham Racecourse. Celebrating 38 years on the festival circuit, Greenbelt is firmly rooted within a Christian tradition that is politically and culturally engaging. The festival is a family-friendly celebration, inclusive and accepting of all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, background or belief.


Tickets can be purchased directly from the festival website:

Or by calling the booking hotline:
020 7374 276

Greenbelt 2012 Weekend Tickets (Price until 30th April)
Adult Wknd Ticket:
Adult Concession Wknd Ticket:
Under 18 Wknd Ticket
(5-17 years) £55.00
Family Wknd Ticket
(2 Adlts, 2 Und. 18s) £259.00
Single Parent Fam. Wknd Ticket
(1 Adlt, 2 Und. 18s) £165.00
Infant Wknd Ticket
(0-4 years) £0.00


Press Information
Interviews / Images / Press accreditation / Competitions

Line Up

Bruce Cockburn,
Seth Lakeman,
Speech Dabelle,
Andrew Tate,
Casper Melville,
Giles Fraser,
Mark Townsend
Imagined Village ,
Kepow Theatre,
Mary Grey,
Richard Coles,
Shane Claiborne,
Tayo Aluko,
Thomas Truax,
Simon Mayo,
Ruth Gledhill,





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