15 July 2022 saw the bells of Oxfordshire’s churches and towers ring across the county to launch two weeks of celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Oxford Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in the UK. This exciting fortnight of events will welcome visitors of all ages to enjoy family-friendly activities, talks, tours, and performances, all celebrating plants and nature.
With over 30 events and 13,000 tickets, the anniversary fortnight is the Botanic Garden’s most ambitious public-facing project to date. It supports the Garden’s mission to ‘share the scientific wonder and importance of plants with the world’, by inspiring visitors to connect with nature in different ways.
Raising the profile of the celebrations are 25 organisations and individuals, including: the critically acclaimed Oxford Lieder Festival; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE); world-renowned chef, Raymond Blanc OBE; Oxford Professor of Poetry, Alice Oswald; Zucker Art Books; and The Oxford Artisan Distillery.
Highlights taking place at the Gardens will include:
|1 July–31 August
|Capturing Nature exhibition, featuring stunning botanical prints from the 15th–19th centuries
- Award-winning poet, Chris Tutton
- Harpist Anne Denholm, Associate of the Royal Academy of Music
|Imaginary Landscapes, a special event featuring words and improvised music. Anne served as Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales from 2015-2019
|Professor Alice Oswald, current Professor of Poetry
|Physic, an evening of poetry, music, and movement curated by Professor Alice Oswald, who will welcome visitors to the Garden after hours
|Swedish designer, Pia Östlund
|A day of nature printing demonstrations, including interactive workshops with Pia and talks with experts in the field. Works alongside the Capturing Nature exhibition
|Raymond Blanc OBE
|One of Britain’s most respected and renowned chefs, will welcome guests for an evening exploring the links between cooking, gardening and wellbeing, followed by a Q&A with the audience
|Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
|Seasons of Enchantment, a concert performed on period instruments
|400th Finale Week, a week of themed days and free family-friendly activities, all included in the cost of a standard entry ticket, including performances, live music, arts, crafts, and a birthday party for the Garden
- Leys Community Development Initiative (CDI) – Oxfords’s Caribbean community
- The East African Network
- Iraqi Women Art and War (IWAW)
- A Taste Of China and Fusion Education – Oxford's Chinese community
|The Plant-Based Street-Food Fair, where food-lovers can enjoy vegan and vegetarian cuisine from around the world
Oxford Botanic Garden Director, Professor Simon Hiscock says: ‘We are thrilled to be able to share this historic moment with everyone. The Botanic Garden is much-loved by Oxford residents and visitors from around the world. The fortnight’s celebrations, coming after such a challenging couple of years, offer people the chance to enjoy the Garden’s beautiful spaces and world-class collections in the height of summer, and hopefully in the sunshine.’
The fortnight will conclude with six back-to-back themed days at the Garden, with local musicians set to perform around free family-friendly activities, bringing a festival atmosphere to the 400-year-old Walled Garden. Each day will explore a different theme, beginning with history on 25 July, followed by literature, science, art, and health and wellbeing. The community-run plant-based street food fair will coincide with a birthday party for the Garden, bringing the year of celebrations to a close.