A year to remember at the National Memorial Arboretum

Published on: Mon, 17/12/2018 - 12:44

The National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, has had a hugely successful year featuring landmark events commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War and celebrating a hundred years since the formation of the RAF. In October, Aspects, a new £8.1million building opened at the site, complementing the Remembrance Centre opened in 2016 with a dedicated state of the art events space.

2019 will see the Arboretum build on its recent successes, with a diverse programme of commemorative and celebratory events, continuing efforts to engage new audiences.

10 February – Paws for Remembrance: A fundraising event offering dog-lovers the opportunity to explore a special walking route around the 150-acre Arboretum grounds, covering areas of the Arboretum normally inaccessible to four-legged visitors.

7 March, 4 April – Bonhams Valuation Day: Representatives from Bonhams, a private auction house, will be available to value visitors’ pictures, jewellery, silver, ceramics and other general valuations. New for 2019

16 March, 11 May and 27 July – Plant Hunters Fair: Green fingered visitors can explore a wide variety of plants available for purchase and seek gardening advice.

29 - 30 June – Armed Forces Weekend: A packed programme of fun family activities alongside musical entertainment, and a food and gift fair. Over the weekend visitors can learn about the work of the Armed Forces and discover the rich and varied stories of Armed Forces personnel and their families.

3 August – Summer Proms: The third annual summer proms offering a host of musical entertainment as the sun sets culminating in fireworks finale.

21 - 22 September – Autumn Festival. A celebration of autumn produce, artisan foods and woodland crafts.

5 October – Ride to the Wall. The largest event in the Arboretum’s calendar, this event sees over 10,000 people assemble from the Biking Community.

10 November – Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade

11 November – Armistice Day Service

11 - 20 December – Illuminated Arboretum: A stunning and awe-inspiring immersive experience, this event will see the Arboretum and some of its memorials ‘shown in another light’. The beautiful lighting washing the memorials with colour and creating artistic vistas across the gardens and interactive displays.

7 – 8 December – Festive Food and Gift Fair

21 December – Carols by Candlelight

Second World War Events
The Arboretum will host several special commemorative events marking significant moments during the Second World War, including:

11 May – Monte Cassino 75: A remembrance service to remember those who fought for the capture of Monte Cassino during the Italian Campaign of January to May 1944.

6 June – D-Day 75: A special commemorative service to mark 75 years since the D-Day landings.

28 September – Berlin Airlift 70: Marking 70 years since the Berlin Airlift, where Western Allies airlifted essential supplies to the people of West Berlin after the Soviet Union blocked supplies getting into Berlin.

Art installations and exhibitions play an important role at the Arboretum, providing alternative ways for visitors to engage with Remembrance concepts, and exploring personal stories of sacrifice. Major exhibitions in 2019 include:

5 April – 23 June – Mighty Oaks: Mark Frith’s graphite illustrations of ancient oaks are a view into what the future holds for the trees at the Arboretum. Commissioned by publisher and philanthropist Felix Dennis, Frith’s detailed drawings depict mighty oaks from around the UK and highlight the beauty and power of the ancient structures. Featuring ten large-scale illustrations, Mighty Oaks honours the grand oaks that have stood stoic for centuries and illustrates the future of the young Arboretum.


29 June – 1 September – Silent Testimony: Since 2010, Colin Davidson has become internationally renowned for his series of large-scale portraits. Until this exhibition, the artist, who grew up in Belfast and studied art at the University of Ulster, had not responded overtly to what he witnessed or personally experienced during the Troubles. Silent Testimony is a powerful response which reflects on how the conflict has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on thousands of individuals - the injured, their families, the families of those who died and the wider community.


13 September – 1 December – Tribute Ink (in partnership with The Royal British Legion): Featuring photography portraits, first-hand testimonies and interactive discovery, Tribute Ink will explore how tattoo art has become an important part of the Armed Forces community and will tell some the fascinating stories hidden in military tattoos.  


6 December – 29 March 2020 – The Arborealists: An international group of artists who all take trees as their inspiration. Working in a range of styles, the artists each respond to nature in a distinctive and personal manner, reflecting the diversity of trees across the globe. The work of The Arborealists is as varied as the subjects they depict, but each artist is linked by a shared love of nature’s giants.


The Arboretum’s broad range of daily activities will continue to run throughout the year, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the land train, buggy tours, guided walks and talks. The site remains the only place in the country that observes a two-minute silence on a daily basis; the Daily Act of Remembrance takes place at 11am in the Millennium Chapel featuring a two-minute silence, followed by an introductory talk about the Arboretum.

Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “The Arboretum continues to develop new and engaging events and activities designed to reach ever wider audiences, providing new ways for people to explore the concept of Remembrance and discover the fascinating personal stories of heroism and sacrifice behind the memorials. We look forward to welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site over the coming year as we commemorate several significant moments during the Second World War.”