Festivals

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


Great festivals taking place in the capital

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Merge Festival

  • Free

This free collection of creative events and installations takes over venues great and small in the Bankside area for a third year in 2014, this time with a theme of 'Art and Science'. The full schedule will be announced on the Merge Festival website, but highlights already confirmed include Alex Chinneck's 'A Pound of Flesh for 50p', a life-size house made of wax bricks which will melt by the end of the festival, leaving only its roof on the site where it stood. Bompas and Parr

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 24 - 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

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

Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

  • Free

Glistening pearls, donkeys, shirehorses and traditional songs… no, this isn't a Gypsy wedding: the Pearly King and Queen Harvest Festival is back in town. As the last Sunday of September rolls around, it's time for Guildhall Yard to welcome the cockney masses for a shindig Dick van Dyke would give his right arm to muscle in on. The annual event features traditional English entertainment including maypole dancing, Morris dancers and a marching band – be prepared to declare

  1. Guildhall Yard Gresham St, EC2V 5AE
  2. Sun Sep 28
More info

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

Great British Bioscience Festival

  • Free

Not many scientists look like Doc from 'Back to the Future' (regrettably), but many are just as exciting. Discover how much we depend on biology at this free festival with more than 20 displays and workshops run by real-life scientists. Become a vet or farmer of a virtual farm, journey through a giant gut, learn about new inventions such as pain-free injections and remarkable replacement limbs and visit the flight arena to see the invisible electrical world of bees. The event is

  1. Museum Gardens
  2. Fri Nov 14 - Sun Nov 16
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
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