Festivals

Your guide to festivals in London, including music, food, comedy and the arts


Great festivals taking place in the capital

More London Free Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Twelve years in and the More London Free Festival is again bringing an impressive line-up of events and performances to the concrete amphitheatre below the Mayor's leaning glass blob of an office on the South Bank. For 2014 the events are divided into five cultural categories, and the festival kicks off with a four-day street party (June 4-8) of Latin and Caribbean food and fun. Free Fringe runs from June 4-20 and features lighthearted shows from Pantaloons Theatre Company and

  1. The Scoop at More London The Queen's Walk, SE1 2DB
  2. Wed Sep 3 - Fri Sep 26
More info

Totally Thames

This month-long celebration of the Thames is sure to make a splash with its mix of arts festivals, community events, regattas, river races, foreshore archaeology and environmental activities. Major events confirmed so far include the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival (Sep 5-9), The Great River Race (Sep 27) and The Big Thames Tidy (Aug 31 and Sep 1), which invites Londoners to dig out their wellies and get mucky while helping to spruce up Gabriel's Wharf foreshore. More events will

Colourscape Music Festival

Colourscape is celebrating its 25th birthday at 2014's event on Clapham Common, which makes this year an even more special chance to visit its colourful tunnels in what must be the closest thing to being swallowed by a scene from 'Yellow Submarine'. Guests must choose a coloured cape before venturing into the enormous labyrinth to explore nearly an acre of space while daylight casts a rainbow glow through its walls. Weekends see the addition of unusual musical performances,

  1. Clapham Common Windmill Drive, SW4 9DE
  2. Sat Sep 13 - Sun Sep 21
More info

Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival

Back for a sixth year, the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival welcomes 90 writers for a prose-powered three days. As well as workshops, walks and talks, the festival hosts Kidsfest, which was introduced to the weekender last year and caters for the little ’uns. Tracy Borman, Deborah Levy, MR Hall and Saul David are among the authors taking part, with particular highlights including Indian novelist Neel Mukherjee – whom GQ India named 'Writer of the Year' – discussing

  1. Ivy House 40 Stuart Rd, SE15 3BE
  2. Sun Sep 14 - Tue Sep 16
More info

Open House London

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This hugely popular, capital-wide annual festival of architecture celebrates its twenty-second anniversary in 2014 and takes place over the weekend of September 20 and 21 under the theme 'Revealing'. The festival allows access to hundreds of buildings not normally open to the public – private homes, government buildings, historic sites, educational establishments and many others. New additions for this year include The Leadenhall Building (aka The Cheesegrater), an eco-home in

  1. Various Venues
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 21
More info

Newham London Waterfront Festival

  • Free

This one-day festival is a chance for London families to explore Newham's Royal Docks and experience the fun they have to offer. Live music, children's activities, free boat rides, historic walking tours and a food village will all help the day to fly by, and the event will round off with a waterside fireworks display at 7.45pm. The event is free.

  1. Royal Victoria Dock Watersports Centre, Tidal Basin Rd, E16 1AF
  2. Sat Sep 20
More info

Malaysia Night

  • Free

Trafalgar Square will give itself over to Malaysia Night for the fifth year in 2014, hosting a night market that will introduce Londoners to the delights of Malaysia. Visitors will be able to see, smell and sample treats from the country from a variety of traditional producers. More than 20 of the UK's best Malaysian eateries will be offering up authentic, mouth-watering satay, laksa (spicy noodle soup), char kway teow (stir-fried flat noodle), rendang (intensely spicy meat

Vegfest

Check your tofu stocks and get ready for some meat-free magic at Europe's biggest vegetarian event. Alongside the many stalls peddling animal-friendly cosmetics, raw cocoa, vegan cakes and other virtuous goods is a strong line-up of comedy on the Performance Stage, with sets from Alasdair Beckett-King, Harriet Kemsley and Andrew O'Neill among others. Visitors can also pick up new tips and dietary delights at a selection of workshops, talks and cookery demonstrations. Absolutely

  1. Olympia London Hammersmith Rd, W14 8UX
  2. Sat Sep 27 - Sun Sep 28
More info

London Tattoo Convention

The annual body art festival celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2014 and an impressive line-up of more than 340 international tattooists is confirmed to be attending so far. The Voodoo Crypt will provide live music and a bar, and there'll be cabaret shows and performances from the likes of burlesque star and showgirl Sabina Kelley. You'll also be able to grab a drink and bite to eat at the convention's beer and food stalls, with alternative clothing and lifestyle merchandise on

  1. Tobacco Dock Porters Walk, E1W 2SF
  2. Fri Sep 26 - Mon Sep 29
More info

Greenwich Comedy Festival

Following a few ups and downs last year, the superb Greenwich Comedy Festival (possibly our favourite London comedy fest) is back with a bang for 2014, setting up camp in the grounds of the beautiful National Maritime Museum. Spectacular all-headline bills get the big- and little-top tents laughing throughout the week, with names including Ardal O’Hanlon, Milton Jones, Stewart Francis, David O’Doherty, Nina Conti and many more heading to SE10. Check the dates below for the

  1. National Maritime Museum Romney Rd, Greenwich, SE10 9NF
  2. Wed Sep 24 - Sun Sep 28
Buy tickets

Festival of Heat

  • Free

London's Chilli Festival returns for round two in 2014, and since 3,500 heat-seeking Londoners turned out last year, you'd be wise to get there in good time to enjoy the attractions. The farm will be aglow with stalls selling every iteration of pepper product, from chilli sauces, pickles and preserves to fiery food. To ease the burn there'll be live folk music and workshops in cooking and chilli growing, as well as all the farm's usual family-friendly attractions – cute animals

  1. Spitalfields City Farm Buxton St, E1 5AR
  2. Sun Sep 28
More info

The Cake & Bake Show

The Cake & Bake Show is back for another year and the 2014 edition is serving up some seriously delicious treats. Top name culinary creatives including Rachel Khoo, Lisa Faulkner and Phil Vickery are taking to the stage with live demonstrations and helpful baking tips across the weekend. Top chocolatier Paul A Young, Britain's Best Bakery's Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell, and the four champions from the Great British Bake Off are also on the bill, ready to showcase their skills

  1. Earls Court Hammersmith Rd, W14 8UX
  2. Fri Oct 3 - Sun Oct 5
More info

Photomonth

  • Free

Why would you call your event Photomonth when it's actually on for two months? It's a conundrum we'll just have to move on from, because it would be a shame to put you off this vast festival of photography which includes exhibitions, talks and workshops in a selection of venues across east London. Full listings will be announced on the Photomonth website in due course, but already confirmed is 'Imagining the East End' (Cass Gallery, Oct 2-Nov 2), a collection of images inspired

  1. Various East London venues
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Sun Nov 30
More info

London Literature Festival 2014

  • Critics choice

Back for 2014, the London Literature Festival brings together an international line-up of worldclass poets, authors and speakers to celebrate the power of words and their ability to transform lives. This year's liberty-themed festival focusses on justice, freedom and democracy, and acts as a tribute to the late Maya Angelou. Highlights include poet Alice Oswald's premier of 'Tithonus-46 Minutes in the Life of Dawn'; a piece by experimental musicians Gavin Bryars and Richard

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Mon Oct 13
More info

Nature's Sanctuary

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have already started making plans for the summer. Visitors can go au naturel (from the ankles down) to wander the barefoot walking trail: balance on beams, hop across tree trunks and experience the moist bouncy softness typical of rainforest floors and get muddy in the squelch zone.  For those that are more about tasting nature than touching it the gin and tonics garden will be open teaching tasters about the forgotten medicinal properties of

  1. Kew Gardens Kew Rd, TW9 3AB
  2. Until Sun Sep 7
More info
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