diamond geezer

 Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Yes, it's September already. Then next month the clocks go back, then it's Fireworks Night and before you know where you are Christmas will be rolling round again. Never fear, London always puts on a last flurry of events and activities and happenings before the nights draw in, and we're all invited. Here's my weekend by weekend guide to free September delights.

All month
» Totally Thames (Sep 1-30): There was a time, not so long ago, when the Mayor's Thames Festival filled the South Bank and lit up the sky for one weekend in September. No more. Now we get a whole month of events, many of them ticketed, kicking off this morning with The Big Thames Tidy on a slipway by the O2. If you fancy a Lost Rivers walk or a talk by an expert, prepare to stump up, but there are also plenty of splendid freebies if you explore the programme carefully.

Weekend 1: September 5/6
» Camberwell Bus Garage Open Day (Sat, 11-5): If you've ever fancied riding through a bus wash, get down. See also Willesden on Saturday 19th.
» The Riverside Festival (Sat, Sun, noon-7.00): This assemblage of stalls and family-friendly activities by City Hall is all that survives of the original Thames Festival. Don't expect fireworks.
» Angel Canal Festival (Sun, 11-5): Waterside gaiety beside City Road Lock. Expect the Mayor of Islington to arrive by narrowboat.
» Palmers Green Festival (Sun, 12-7): All the fun of music on the green, Salstricity and Britain's tallest mobile climbing wall (in Broomfield Park).
» Brentford Festival (Sun, from 12): Funfair, stalls and a dog show, plus visiting Routemaster, in Blondin Park W5.

Weekend 2: September 12/13
» Heritage Open Days (Thu-Sun): Hundreds of buildings that aren't usually open, are open. Most of them are outside London, but there are plenty open in Kingston (which is spending the weekend pretending it's in Surrey). (See also Berks, Bucks, Essex, Herts, Kent)
» St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (Sat, Sun, 11.00-5.00): Annual gathering of small boats near Tower Bridge. Includes a visit by the The Barnet Hill Lifeboat Crew Shanty Singers.
» The Great River Race (Sat, 10.45-15.45): 300 craft engage in a spectacular paddle up the Thames from Docklands to Richmond.
» Hidden River Festival (Sat, 12-6.30): Now-annual music festival and family funday on the banks of the New River at Woodberry Down.
» Tour of Britain (Sun, 11.00-5.30): The final stage of this cross-country bike race is a lycra-tastic sprinty circuit heading in three directions out of Trafalgar Square. Ironically, Cycle Superhighway works mean that the route no longer follows the Embankment.
» Kings Place Festival (Fri-Sun): Head to King's Cross for 100+ performances of spoken word, comedy, dance, jazz and classical music. Here's a list of the free events.

Weekend 3: September 19/20
» Open House London (Sat, Sun): The grand-daddy of architectural festivals, with hundreds of weird and wonderful buildings throwing open their doors across the capital. Some of the really special events are fully booked, but you're not too late to sign up for this three-property raffle. Also, today's the day to grab a ticket to modernist Highpoint (now sold out), while the five Crossrail building sites go live at noon on Friday. There'll be tons to see over the weekend, in fact far too much to choose from. Be there, or regret it for the next 52 weeks.
» Great Gorilla Run (Sat, from 10.30): Dress up as a gorilla and run 7km to raise money for charity (or just come along and watch sweaty knackered apes).
» Bermondsey Street Festival (Sat, 11-7): A designery "village fête", plus dog show, plus food and stalls (with or without Zandra Rhodes).
» London Design Festival (continues until next weekend): Hundreds of design-er events will be taking place across the capital, based in seven on-trend clusters. Having struggled through the programme online, I think the V&A looks your best bet.

Weekend 4: September 26/27
» Thames Barrier Closure (Sun, 6.30-4.30): Annual all-day maintenance closure (peaking around high tide at 12:30pm). Last year's was blue-sky brilliant. Come and see water piled up on one side only... while it's only a practice.
» Autumn Ambles (Sat, Sun): Normally by now, Walk London have announced their late September programme of 40-ish free guided walks. This year, nothing yet. Maybe the funding's finally run out.
» Deptford X (from Friday 25): Wait a couple of weeks, and their website should then tell us what contemporary visual art to expect down SE8 way.
» There must be something else on this weekend, surely.

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