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Festival of the Outdoors: Celebrating the great outdoors

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Back after the success of its inaugural year, the 2020 instalment of Sheffield's Festival of the Outdoors boasts over 100 events, from competitions calling for the world's best climbers, to give-it-a-go taster sessions and urban paddleboarding.

The Rab Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF) is set for an exciting return, with international climbers competing in front of Climbing Works' co-owner Percy Bishton. Percy will be taking part in his own Q&A session later in the festival before heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to fulfill his role as chief route-setter for bouldering.

Also returning is The Magnificent Seven, a hill climb challenge for cyclists looking to face the city's toughest hills. Meanwhile, the Big Running Weekend will take place on 20 March and the ever-popular Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF), now entering its 15th year, will run from 20-22 March. Speaking of ShaAFF, look out for a cool new video coming from them to promote The Outdoor City.

Eager to exceed the depth and breadth of events featured last year, Festival of the Outdoors will host the Asda Foundation's Sheffield Half Marathon for the first time. Having pulled in more than 6,000 runners at its 2019 event, the marathon will undoubtedly attract even bigger audiences this time around.

Exercise isn't all that's on offer at this year's festival either, as Sheffield Beer Week hosts pub heritage walks, a Women in Beer and Brewing walking tour, and a beer-run out to the family-owned and much-loved brewery of St Mars of the Desert. True North Brewery will also be brewing up a special edition 'trale' pale ale for the celebrations, and offering the chance to be a 'brewer for a day'. Keep your eyes peeled on their social media to find out how to get involved.

In addition to the festival's main highlights, there are a whole host of smaller events which are sure to pique the interest of budding adventurers. The Women in Cycling Festival will offer participants a day-long insight into the growing world of female cycling, hosted by the University of Sheffield's Cycling Club.

From beginner-level to expert, orienteering and walking also feature heavily in this year's events. Urban orienteering expeditions will take place during the day and at night, and for those who are really keen, the South Yorkshire Orienteers kick off the festival with a national orienteering race on 1 March. If strolling is more your vibe, take advantage of the woodland and city-based walking events setting off across Low Bradfield, Sheffield City Centre and Loxley Valley.

Alex Keene

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