London's Cultural Guide

Unexpected London Festivals worth checking out

From family-friendly events to street parties and good old-fashioned music festies, here's our pick of some lesser known events

FAMILY: Something Happening for Kids

Check out the Camper Van of Love show at The Place on Saturday

Dance studio The Place run their annual Something Happening For Kids festival this Saturday and, true to the name, there’s plenty going down if you are aged 0-10. In fact parents are spoilt for choice too. Pick from free drop-in activities like dance, live music, facepainting and juggling, or book one of the workshops in creative dance, hip hop or rhythm and music. There are family yoga sessions and regular shows too, like Camper Van of Love (pictured above), a dancing adventure based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche. But be quick, we already missed out on our chosen workshops as they were sold out *sob*. Saturday 16th July 11am-4pm, The Place, 17 Duke’s Road WC1H. More info & to book workshops or shows here

COMMUNITY: Camden New Town Festival

Lots of choice over the next few weeks, from free family events to paid-up music-fests.
Lots of choice over the next few weeks, from free family events to paid-up music-fests.

This free community bash runs every year in Camden Square, the pretty little oasis just south of York Way (and former home of Amy Winehouse). The festival attracts up to 800 locals and visitors, a “celebration of history, music, dance and the multicultural community”, with live music, kids’ activities, healthy living, local history, green activities, and the obligatory face-painting. Sat 16th and Sun 17th July

DIVERSITY: Camden Mela

Mela: fabulous outfits. Photo: PR

Another community festival which highlights the influential Bangladeshi cultural presence in Bloomsbury, with tons of free fun for the family, including funfair rides, arts and crafts workshops, face painting, henna painting and sports activities. Plus music, dance, fabulous Asian outfits, and spangly jewellery. Free. Sunday 17th July. From 12-6pm, 3 Guildford Street WC1N

MUSIC: Citadel

Citadel is the music festival for cerebral types. Photo: PR

There are an awful lot of seasonal happenings in Victoria Park these days, but this one is a good option for some laidback music with decent scran. Expect cerebral acts like Sigur Ros, Lianne La Havas, Caribou and Fabric Sunday Sessions, plus talks and debates from Sunday Papers Live, arts and craft workshops, theatre, comedy and stretch yoga. Best of all is some ace-sounding Sunday communal feasting with Stephen Harris and The Sportsman, which has just been voted the UK’s number one in Restaurant magazine. And streetfood aplenty from Bubbledogs, Patty & Bun, Smokestak, Voodoo Rays, and Mr Bao. Sun 17th July, tickets here.


BRAINY: Curious?

Curious is back. Photo: Argent
Curious is back. Photo: Argent

After an inaugural event last year, the free family-friendly Curious? is back this month. Powered by the Knowledge Quarter – an organisation which celebrates King’s Cross as one of the greatest concentrations of knowledge anywhere in the world – Curious? is a fusion of science, culture and art. Expect mind-bending talks, experiments and creative collaborations, including “madcap science” from the Francis Crick Institute, interactive history, language workshops, spontaneous poetry, and even a pop-up opera flashmob. Saturday 23rd July, more info here.

SPORTY: King’s Cross Sports Day

Sports Day. Photo: Argent
It’s another free festie: Sports Day. Photo: Argent

If you can’t fly to Rio for the Olympics, you could always try something sporty in King’s Cross. For this all-dayer have a go at yoga, bootcamp training or rock-climbing, or try your hand at tightrope walking, sack racing, or even competitive egg and spoon. The events will be taking place all day in Granary Square and Lewis Cubitt Square. Free and suitable for all ages and abilities. Saturday 6th August, more info here.

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