diamond geezer

 Friday, June 22, 2012

Something peculiar is happening this weekend. Most weekends some interesting special events take place in London, but this weekend there are more than I can ever remember piled up before. It's as if the organisers all said "When shall we schedule our big event this year? I know, let's pick midsummer weekend!" There's also the Olympics next month, which many will have been keen to avoid, hence the imminent cultural logjam. You're going to have to pick carefully.

  • High Street 2012 Summer Safari (Thu 21 Jun - Sat 23 Jun): The High Street 2012 Heritage, Culture and Community Grants programme is culminating in a 3-day festival of free events on the street.
  • Celebrate the City (Thu 21 Jun - Sun 24 Jun): The City of London Corporation and the Diocese of London invite you to enjoy all the Square Mile has to offer. Ian has a useful list of the highlights here.
  • London Festival of Architecture (Sat 23 Jun - Sun 8 Jul): A city-wide celebration of architecture and architectural talent in the UK capital. The theme of the 2012 Festival is ‘The Playful City’. [Pleasure Gardens hub] [City of London hub] [Southwark hub]
  • London 2012 Festival (Thu 21 Jun - 9 Sept): Opening weekend of the nationwide Olympic arts bonanza
  • The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (Thu 21 - Sun 30): Every year this outdoor multi-evening extravaganza brings dynamic performance art to the East End masses, both north and south of the river.

    Friday 22nd June
    » Listed Loo (2-5pm): It's been a very long time coming, but finally the derelict public convenience outside St Mary's Church in Bow is opened up as an interactive art installation. Immerse yourself in the performance... in the loo. (opened yesterday, continues until Sunday)
    » Sundowner at Tower Bridge (6:30-9pm): Excellently, access to the bridge's upper walkways is free tonight. Stupidly, the event ends half an hour before sunset. Excellently, from half past nine to half past ten they're switching on the new super-duper illuminations. (part of Celebrate the City - a dozen other Friday activities here)
    » Prometheus Awakes (10pm): Acrobatic classical spectacle on the lawns outside the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, as part of GDIF2012. Expect crowds.

    Saturday 23rd June
    » Tour of the Bank of England (9:30am - 4pm): Take a free half hour tour round the innards of the Old Lady. Expect shorter queues that for Open House in September.
    » High Street 2012 Summer Safari (10am - 5pm): Today's the best day to check out all the activities, from Aldgate to Bow, and especially Whitechapel. Expect bells, art, music, a living map, even old people on a mobile sofa. Check the full list of events, and pick carefully.
    » Cheapside Street Fayre (10am - 5pm): A "vibrant" street fayre organised by the City's livery companies, featuring music, performance, ale-tasting, human playing cards (and free ice cream for kids). Just one of a huge number of events in the City today (list here, highlights here)
    » Georgian Open Day at Dr Johnson's House (11am - 5:30pm): Themed events and dressing up, plus a free look round the great lexicographer's abode (another Celebrate the City highlight)
    » Exhibition Road Music Day: Music with a cultural tinge, headlined by a French chanteuse, along the pedestrianised street in South Kensington's Exhibition-land.
    » Tottenham Carnival Parade (sets off 11am): But, alas, not the carnival, which has been cancelled due to lack of funding.
    » Croxley Revels on the Green (from 1:30pm): A carnival procession, stalls and maypoling, going back to my Metro-land roots.
    » Insectes (9:45pm): Street puppetry on a grand scale, as giant ants, spiders and other insects advance down Roman Road in Bow. Part of GDIF2012. (also appearing in Watford on Friday evening, as part of Imagine Watford)

    Saturday 23rd June and Sunday 24th June
    » London Pleasure Gardens (12 noon - 8pm): The derelict space around Millennium Mills, between ExCel and London City Airport, is being opened up as an arty social eventful drinksy entertainment space. It opens officially next weekend, but there's a preview this weekend as part of LFA2012. (alas, this has been postponed because they haven't finished setting the place up yet - new date to be confirmed)
    » Guildhall Open Day (10am - 5pm): The City's administrative HQ throws open its doors, and its halls, and its crypt (where you can see the Magna Carta) (part of Celebrate The City - lots more happening round about)
    » Greenwich Fair: Another strand of GDIF2012, more than a dozen street theatre-y acts take up residence in Greenwich town centre.
    » Bow Arts Open Studios (12 noon - 6pm): 130 artists welcome you into their studios, which always makes for a fascinating poke-round. Also open, the P1 studios by the flyover. (opening event, Friday from 6pm)
    » Trent Park Open House (10am - 5pm): Almost your last chance to look inside the old house (nr Cockfosters) and its grounds before Middlesex University sells up. Tours at 10, 12, 2 and 4. I went last month, and I'm very glad I did.
    » Richmond ArtHouse (11am - 6pm): A hundred-ish open studios, mostly in the artists' homes. (continues next weekend)
    » West End Live (11am - 6pm): See free performances from the casts of London's world-famous musicals at this festival in Trafalgar Square. Your mother-in-law would love it.

    Sunday 24th June
    » The Great British Bus Jubilee (9:30am - 7pm): A display of up to 100 old buses from all over the UK, heritage bus rides and a collectors' market, plus an open day in the London Bus Museum (Weybridge). Entrance a tenner.
    » Diamond Jubilee Gardens (11am - 6pm): Music and a 1930s-style fairground, to celebrate the posh-refurbishment opening of Twickenham's newest public space.

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