Arboretum commences Armed Forces Week celebrations

The Arboretum has marked the start of Armed Forces Week 2024, a weeklong programme of commemorative and celebratory activities in recognition of the year-round service and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community. 


This morning, the Armed Forces Week flag was raised at the Nation’s year-round place to remember by Tony Matthews, a Royal Artillery veteran and volunteer at the Arboretum for over 19 years who was recently recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours list 2024 with the award of an MBE. The flag will fly throughout the week in tribute to the service of Armed Forces personnel.


Families are also being encouraged to enjoy a range of free activities at the Arboretum throughout Armed Forces Weekend (29 and 30 June). These will include climbing walls, archery, a zipline, and a free-drop airbag. There will also be live musical performances throughout the weekend from acts including the Timmy Allan Jazz Trio, Stacey Lynn Crowe, and The Lahdidahs.


“Once again our Armed Forces Week programme will be celebrating the incredible year-round contributions made by all members of the Armed Forces community,” said Neill Martin-Hoare, Head of Events at the National Memorial Arboretum. “Alongside commemorative moments, there will be a whole host of free family activities and live music from a range of acts including graduates of RBL’s Talent in the Ranks programme.”


There will also be special performances by a collective of aspiring artists selected from the Armed Forces community as part of a new artist development programme, ‘Talent in the Ranks’. Delivered in partnership with the Royal British Legion, ‘Talent in the Ranks’ invited aspiring songwriters, poets, singers, and musicians to work with a Capella group Black Voices and Arboretum poet Dan Simpson to create, record, and perform songs that share insight into their lives and experiences in the Armed Forces community.

Military Family at the Arboretum on Armed Forces Day 2021

The event is being sponsored by Briggs Equipment UK who will once again be bringing back some family favourites, including forklift basketball, face painting, a military vehicle display, and the opportunity to meet therapy dogs (Sat only). For the second year in a row, the equipment specialists will also be matching visitor donations made throughout the weekend £1 for £1 up to a total of £1,000.


At 11.15am on Saturday 29 June, a cohort of Ride to the Wall (RTTW) motorcycles will ride into the Arboretum ahead of a noon ceremony where a cheque for the proceeds from RTTW 2023 will be presented. RTTW has raised over £1.5 million for the Arboretum since 2007.


Entry to the National Memorial Arboretum and the Armed Forces Weekend event is free of charge. Booking in advance via the Arboretum website is recommended to guarantee entry and save on parking (£4 in advance, £6 on the day).

AFD Forklift basketball
Barbara Nice

Bostin' Comedy and a Right Good Singalong


The Arboretum will also feature a special evening of entertainment on Saturday 29 June in celebration of the service of the Armed Forces Community. Hosted by Barbara Nice, the legendary character of Birmingham-based comedian Janice Connolly BEM, ‘Bostin Comedy and a Right Good Singalong’ will feature veteran graduates of RBL’s ‘Recovery through Comedy’ programme, New Orleans style brass band ‘Bostin Brass’, and ‘MASSAOKE®️’ an incredible live band playing hairbrush anthems from across the decades, accompanied by giant video lyrics.


Supported by the Royal British Legion, the event offers special discounted tickets for serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans at £12 per person. A maximum of six tickets can be booked per serving member or veteran. A military or veteran ID must be shown on entry by at least one member of the party. Standard Adult tickets cost £24 and child tickets (under 16s) are available for £18. Due to the nature of some of the content, the event is not recommended for children under 12. 

A man plays the trumpet in a dimly lit bar surrounded by people