diamond geezer

 Thursday, August 14, 2014

If it's excitement you want, then the inaugural Mile End and Bow Festival should be right up your street. This special celebration of community, food and the arts takes place across the E3 postcode over the forthcoming weekend, and the organisers promise there'll be fun enough for everyone.

I'm delighted to have been selected as media partner for the Mile End and Bow Festival, so I'll be bringing you tempting previews of the events taking place, plus highlights of the best experiences as the festival progresses. There really is so much to enjoy - just like a normal weekend in the East End, only better!

Everything kicks off at 7pm on the Friday evening with a celebratory procession along the Mile End Road. The theme this year is Fire and Light, so everyone should bring along a candle, torch or lantern to illuminate the way. The procession will be led by the Pearly King of Tower Hamlets, while children at the St George's Academy Summer School will be showing off their carnival costumes at the finale on the Green Bridge. Tickets for the grandstand seating can be reserved in advance on the official festival site.

There's so much to choose from on the Saturday that you may want to sit down and plan your day right now. The morning begins with a special Storytime Hour at the Mile End Idea Store, where local author Katherine Hennessey will be reading from, and selling copies of, her latest book. Meanwhile senior citizens can start their day with a free cooked breakfast at the Bengal Cafe on Grove Road, served 'wartime style' with eggs over easy, and guaranteed as tasty as usual.

Don't forget to drop in at the Bow Wharf Community Centre for tea and biscuits and their Retro Bring and Buy, where this month's chosen decades are the Forties and the Seventies. Or why not join CAMRA's Gerry Vincent on his walking tour of The Ghost Pubs of Bromley-by-Bow, starting at the Seven Stars and ending up with a beer on the site of the Moulder's Arms. All places are first come first served, or you can pay on the day.

In the afternoon the focus switches to Victoria Park. A series of local bands are taking time out of their busy schedules to play for us, introduced by this year's Tower Hamlets Young Councillor of the Year Yasmin Kaur. As well as Brown's Victorian Steam Fair, a range of pop-up food stalls will be present, selling everything from pulled pork burgers to chilli ice cream. Wristbands should be purchased in advance, and can be obtained at a 10% discount online using the voucher code DGsentme.

The only way to end the day is on a Hertford Canal Cruise, enjoying a full three course meal as you drift serenely along the edge of Victoria Park. Or if that's not your cup of tea, how about spending the evening sampling spirits at the Rose of Denmark? A selection of micro-distilled gins will be available, hand-curated by our friends at Hogarth Blends, and each paired with a fine international cheese to really bring your palate to life.

And Sunday promises to be even better! If the weather's fine an open air service will be held on Tredegar Green, bringing together all sides of the community in a pan-faith celebration. This is also the starting point for the E3 Clubcard Fun Run, a charity challenge attempting to visit each of the postcode's Tesco Expresses to raise money for diabetes.

Roman Road will be a sea of stalls on Sunday afternoon during the area's first Artisan Countryside Market. Various locally-sourced meats and cakes will be on sale at organic prices, while the usual clothing traders will be displaced for one day only by sellers of hand-threaded trinkets and bespoke handbags. Meanwhile bookings are being taken up front for a behind the scenes tour at Coborn Road station, including the rare public opening of platform 3 where the Fish Island Narrow Gauge Society will be demonstrating their model railway layout.

Don't think we've forgotten the children. With the summer holidays in full swing, Doctor Mahatma's Fun Palace takes over Mile End Park with free face-painting and the exciting opportunity to make your own Pearly Crown out of sticky paper. Come dressed as your favourite Disney character and you might just walk off with the top prize of a family ticket to a 3D screening of That Squirrel Movie, showing this weekend at the Stepney Picturehouse.

The festival comes to a climactic close with a community concert in Bow Common Park, sponsored by local estate agents Kennedy Brown. Choirs from Holy Cross Mosque and the Malmesbury Road Animal Hospital will serenade us into the evening, and the winner of the Mile End and Bow Bake Off 2014 will be announced. Entrance is guaranteed to all those with a Gold Festival Lanyard, available now for pre-collection from the Bow Roundabout ticket office. This promises to be the most Cockneytastic of weekends, so why not save money and reserve your place now?

Diamond Geezer is proud media partner to the Mile End and Bow Festival, which takes place this weekend. Find out what's on here, and for updates follow Mile End and Bow on Facebook and @MEndBF #E3Wow on Twitter.

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