What’s on at We Have Ways Fest

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16 June 2022
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We Have Ways Fest line up released We Have Ways Fest line up released
The programme for We Have Ways Fest, back for its second year at the Blackpit Brewery in Buckinghamshire from 22-24 July, has been announced.

We Have Ways Fest is a real-life event that was born out of the hugely successful history podcast We Have Ways of Making You Talk, which is co-hosted by keen historian Al Murray and bestselling author and broadcaster James Holland, and which has seen a massive 20 million downloads since its launch 3 years ago.

Billed by the organisers as the UK’s number one World War II festival, We Have Ways Fest promises to be a weekend packed full of entertainment for all the family, including an exciting combination of incredible displays of military hardware, and fascinating historical talks and debates.

One of the highlights will be Jack Mann, one of the last surviving members of the wartime Long Range Desert Group, SAS and SBS, in conversation with former soldier and friend of the podcast, Paul Beaver, discussing a remarkable wartime career. Jack Mann has rarely spoken in public but his is a truly extraordinary story and he is one of the very last veterans able to tell us about the incredible exploits of those legendary warriors. This fascinating event will open the festival on the Friday afternoon.

Katrin Himmler is a German author and political scientist. She is also the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, the head of Hitler’s SS. On the Saturday, she will be talking to host James Holland about how she has confronted her family legacy and giving a fascinating insight into how the descendants of Nazi perpetrators deal with the past.

Maurice Blik is a British Sculptor and former President of The British Society of Sculptors. In 1943 Maurice and his family were sent to the concentration camp Bergen Belsen. In a very special event on the Sunday of the festival, Maurice Blik will be discussing his childhood, his time at Belsen, encounters with Irma Grese, and his survival.  He will also be revealing how his childhood experiences of the Holocaust shaped the internationally renowned sculptor he was to become.

Attendees will be able to hear from Professor Saul David twice over the weekend. Firstly, he and John McManus will tackle the course of the Pacific War, how it changed and fluctuated, inter-services rivalries and some of the biggest characters of the war and the impact they had on events. The following day, Saul will join host Al Murray, along with historians Marc Milner and Giles Milton, to discuss some of the most successful and daring missions of the war, but also the most hare-brained and, frankly, woefully bad and ill-conceived.

Acclaimed Anglo-German historian and journalist Katja Hoyer talks about the road to war on the Saturday afternoon. In what promises to be a fascinating talk, she will look at Germany, from the end of the First World War, through the Treaty of Versailles and the years of Weimar, to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, and the gradual, irreversible slide into war. She will ask the important question: How was it allowed to happen?

Al Murray said: “I love We Have Ways Fest. It’s talks, tanks and tankards, but not necessarily in that order. Last year was great fun, but this year will be bigger and better and they’ve said I can fire the anti-aircraft gun if I promise not to set fire to the trees.”

Throughout the weekend there will be a packed programme of arena demonstrations showcasing a huge range of World War II tanks, military vehicles and hardware, including a late-night firing session which is sure to make a few visitors jump.  Many of the vehicles and hardware on show are extremely rare and some now the last survivors of their kind.  The festival offers the opportunity to see, touch, smell and hear these machines.  Many will be in action over the course of the festival weekend, although there will also be special events in which there will be an opportunity to see expert living historians, using original period techniques, tactics, drills and instructions, operating alongside these tanks, artillery pieces and other machines to help further our understanding of how troops worked and moved forward together during the war.

We Have Ways Fest is a weekend for the whole family, and for all ages.  There will be live music each evening and a range of tasty locally-sourced snacks and meals, including freshly prepared pizza and crepes.  And, as the festival takes place next to a brewery, there will be plenty of delicious local craft beer to go around.

For those who prefer to camp, there will be facilities on site, and Coles Books of Bicester will be organising book signings with the speakers after each of the talks.

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Modelling enthusiasts will also be able to share top tips and stories about their collections, and the very best re-enactors - including Monty’s Men - will be present to talk about what it was like to be party of the military during the second half of the war.  While in uniform, these passionate historians use only period materials from toothpaste, to clothing, to the food they eat.

Tickets are now on sale and the full programme, with all the information about what’s in store for this year, can be found at the new, recently-launched website.

 

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