Make the most of 2012 in London with free festivals galore over the summer. The next few months are full of surprising festivals that will take you off the beaten track and into London’s secret spots. Here are a few to get you started on your cultural journey around London’s lesser-known hidden gems.
This weekend, take a ride in a Venetian gondola in Little Venice, marvel at a puppet show performed on a barge and travel back in time through Islington Tunnel to discover the history of London’s unsung waterways: just three of the many things to see and do at the Regent’s Canal Festival. The floating spectacle spans the length of the canal from Little Venice in the west to Mile End in the east and celebrates the 200th anniversary of the formation of the 19th century waterway. Other highlights include The Art Pavilion showcasing the best up-and-coming artistic talent, a cycle-powered cinema, a floating dance floor with 15 DJs on rotation in Camden and an Origami World Record Attempt – get ready to flex those finger muscles!
Mosey on down to the streets of West London to experience the InTRANSIT Festival. Covering all things arty, be sure to head to the iconic Portobello Road where the usual antiques market will be replaced by one big pop-up stage alive with musicians, puppet shows, cabaret and dancing dragons. In its sixth year, the festival smothers the chic areas of Kensington and Chelsea with over 25 cultural events, many of which are free including the chance to experience what it’s like to be a freerunner and mind-bending pavement art – tread cautiously! Fans of Alice in Wonderland should check out the themed bike tour, where you can immerse yourself in curiouser and curiouser goings on as you explore the many nooks and crannies of the borough on two wheels, with a deliciously dark twist thrown in by the Exquisite Folly Theatre.
East London’s trendiest district is putting on a plethora of cultural events to sit alongside the buzz of the Olympic games with the first of many shindigs starting this Saturday, including an adorable Bark Fest dog show! Pull on your skinnest pair of jeans, wack on the Ray-Bans and head to Hoxton Square for a mass street party, the first of many celebrations for the Shoreditch Festival taking place from 14 July to 22 July when the festival welcomes the Olympic Torch. But it doesn’t end there. Shoreditch with have its party hat on throughout August too as the first ever Shoreditch Fringe Festival presents everything from Mexican cinema and ping pong parties to music festivals and cocktail-fuelled vintage soirées with a European twist. Again, a lot of the events won’t cost you a penny.
More of London’s hidden gems:
- Head to Heathrow to eye up inspirational Olympic art at the UK’s only art gallery housed in an airport
- Soak up the sumptious art deco interiors of Eltham Palace, once the childhood home of Henry VIII
- Pay a visit to London’s only lighthouse and sink your teeth into a mammoth burger at a famous 50s diner in Trinity Buoy Wharf
- Jazz hands at the ready for Wilton’s Music Hall, the world’s oldest music hall dating back to the 18th century
If you’re planning a last-minute dash to the capital, visitlondon.com has some amazing late summer deals with up to 50% off London accommodation – so don’t miss the magic of London this summer!