Festival Director, James Holland

Festival Director, James Holland

2024 News Agenda at Chalke History Festival

Ukraine, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran, Estonia and worldwide elections – Creative Director, James Holland, considers how the Chalke History Festival is exploring the history behind, and making sense of, today’s most pressing global events.

Many of these talks are included in your entrance tickets, Please see the full programme for details.

We strongly believe that history is the compass that guides us to the present and prepares us for the future, and we’re also very mindful that we currently live in turbulent times.

It’s only natural that we should want to try and make sense of what is going on in the world, which is why we have brought together a number of brilliant minds as well as  unrivalled experience and knowledge to take part in a number of discussions that will cast fresh light on events going on around the world at present.   

We’re really thrilled to be welcoming a number of members of the Alphen Group, an informal network of leading strategic thinkers who have come together to consider the future of the transatlantic relationship and European security and defence – and to do something about it.  Among its members are former diplomats, generals, historians, scientists, and other academics from both sides of the Atlantic and from throughout Europe.  Among them are two brilliant Ukrainian academics, Hanna Shelest and Victoria Vydovchenko, who will be discussing the history of their country; it will be utterly fascinating as they are both remarkable people (Thursday 27th June).   

We are also going to take a look at Afghanistan and what might be learned from the West’s twenty year involvement.  On that panel we have Amin Aziz, one of the last Afghans to escape Kabul in 2021, as well as Sir Nick Carter, the former Head of the British Armed Forces, and Greg Mills, a leading defence consultant and historian (Friday 28th June).   

There is also an opportunity to learn a bit more about the situation in the Middle East with The Seeds of Gaza: Palestine 1944, by Professor Michael Neiberg.  Mike is a world-renowned historian and Head of War Studies at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  We’re very lucky to have him join us.  Professor Ali Ansari will be talking about Iran in what also promises to be a highly relevant talk (Thursday 27th June).  Ali is based at St Andrews University but has also recently been advising the Foreign Office. He also happens to be a superb public speaker. 

The current year, 2024, is astonishing for the number of elections taking place around the world, and so we have brought together leading pollsters Roger Parry and James Kanagasooriam to help us try and make sense of what is going on, why opinion polls matter and what they can tell us about the history of democratic elections (Wednesday 26th June). 

Finally for this newsletter, we’re keen to also mention an especially important guest speaker: Thomas Hendrix Ilves, the former President of Estonia.  He will be discussing the current situation in the Baltic States in conversation with Tom Tugendhat MP; this will not be one to miss (Thursday 27th June). 


Entrance and talk tickets are now on sale – click here. Sign up to the Chalke History Festival newsletter here and check chalkefestival.com for updates.