A HIGH wire walk across the River Wye, a fire and flame spectacular and an illuminated flotilla finale are among the highlights of the first-ever Wye Valley River Festival.

The ground-breaking event will celebrate nature, culture, landscape and life along the River Wye and highlight the history and magic of the landscape and the issues that threaten it.

Following its launch in Hereford on May 3 the festival will make its way from Monmouth to Chepstow over the next two weeks.

People in communities along the Wye Valley, including at Llandogo, Brockweir and Tintern, are expected to watch a host of riverside revelries, with 300 torch bearers joining a fire and flame celebrations and an operatic performance.

A narrative developed by the festival’s artistic directors-outdoor arts company ‘Desperate Men’ will link the events together and tell the story of Ratty the Water Vole, on the run from justice. He darts between flotillas and fire shows through riverside towns and villages in a event which brings the landscape to life.

The first stop in Monmouthshire is on the eve of Ratty’s trial on May 9 when there will be music, street theatre and a performance from dance duet Chloe Loftus Dance on the steps of Monmouth Rowing Club. The following day is the Grand Trial and Assizes at the Shire Hall where Ratty is brought for trial for the theatrical centre-piece of the festival.

As the narrative unfolds a torch-lit procession will make its way to Monnow Bridge, where Ratty escapes the gallows and heads down river to Llandogo, where a community picnic and Chris Bull will perform a high wire walk across the River Wye on May 11.

As dusk falls, the iconic stretch of the River Wye at Llandogo will be illuminated with torches, flares and a fire sculpture.

The festival culminates in a night-time grand finale in Chepstow featuring a flotilla, choir, brass bands and fire and flame illuminations on May 18.

Other festival events include the Wye On Wye! Musical celebration at Chepstow’s Drill Hall on May 16, in Brockweir villagers wind back the clock to a time when lawlessness reigned on May 17 and later that day will hold an evening of gorgeous music and ghostly goings-on at Tintern Abbey.

For details of events visit wyevalleyaonb.org.uk