The Festival of Nature, the UK’s biggest free celebration of the nature world, will kick off on Thursday 8 June and run until 28 June, starting in Bristol before it winds down the River Avon through Keynsham and into Bath, uncovering secret wildlife spots along the way.

Savita Custead, festival director, explained, “The Festival of Nature is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to see our city and waterscapes in a different way and better understand the natural world which surrounds us. It’s about informing and educating, inspiring people to take action for nature and, most importantly, having fun.

“People can get practical ideas on how they can get more involved in looking after our region’s wildlife, whether that’s protecting water voles in Lawrence Weston or having their say on tackling air pollution in Bristol.

“There are so many interactive activities to take part in and we are particularly excited to be able to bring dinosaur exhibits to the festival which will attract any budding palaeontologists out there.”

Other highlights to have been confirmed include the festival’s first Bath-based BioBlitz will take place at the National Trust’s Bushey Norwood site on June 23 and 24 and it is hoped that 1,000 different species can be found in 24 hours.

There will also be an appearance from the Bristol Astronomical Society who will have a range of specialist solar telescopes which allow people to safely view the sun on a clear day. People may be able to see sun spots, dark patches that appear from time to time on the sun’s surface, and even small solar flares.

A project to promote the Severn Beach Line will also be there, showing visitors how this scenic railway line offers an easy way to get out of the city into nature. There will be family-friendly activities along the line and on the train itself to inspire everyone to get outside and explore.

The BBC Natural History Unit celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017 and will be at the festival offering visitors the chance to try out camera equipment, meet wildlife presenters and find out about the history and technology changes in the industry.

“We have already lined up some great activities and exhibitors, with much more to come,” added Savita. “We are looking forward to offering a packed programme which will appeal to everyone from pre-schoolers to grandparents.”

The main Bristol celebration will be over the weekend of June 10 and 11, followed by a Keynsham event on June 17 and 18, before culminating in Bath for the festival finale on June 24 and 25.

All events are free to enter, but some may require advance booking so visit www.festivalofnature.org.uk for a full listing and more information. You can also follow the festival on Twitter: @FestofNature and on Facebook: @BristolFON.