Festivals

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


Great festivals taking place in the capital

Easter in London

The first bank holiday weekend of the year is on the horizon so grab your diary and get organising. Every year, Easter (which takes place Friday April 18 – Monday April 21 in 2014) treats us to a whole four days of holiday – need we mention a whole load of chocolate eggs – which is the perfect opportunity to get out and about in the capital. Whether you plan to paint hard-boiled eggs, party all weekend or pursue the Easter Bunny for cocoa-based satisfaction, get cracking

Easter parties in London

Here's our egg-cellent pick of the parties going off this Easter holiday Popular nightlife this week Fairground One of the biggest hits in late-night London last year was Street Feast – an open-air food market based in an old Travis Perkins builders yard that packed in 3,000 clued-up munchers a night. Following on from its indoor successor, Hawker House, the latest project of founder Dominic Cools-Lartigue (yes, actual name) is Fairground, based

The best Easter activities for kids in London

You can put all your eggs in one basket with this guide to the best events for children this Easter Easter in London Make a bonnet, paint hard-boiled eggs or pursue the Easter Bunny – sort your Easter weekend now. Come on, let's get cracking... Read more Kids features Easter's best films for kids Kid-friendly flicks for the Easter holidays guaranteed to take their minds off of chocolate (for a bit) The best family theatre in London this Easter

Pick Me Up

The fifth incarnation of the graphic arts festival returns to Somerset House in 2014 with drawings and prints by artists, creative groups and galleries from all over the world. For all the high-profile names involved, there’s an informal art-school vibe to this annual festival celebrating graphic design in all its manifestations. That’s thanks, partly, to the rambling spaces of the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House and to a lively programme of activities designed to

  1. Somerset House Strand, WC2R 1LA
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Mon May 5
More info

Cityread London

Cityread 2014 continues on its mission with the thoroughly laudable objectives of promoting public libraries and encouraging reading for pleasure and at all levels, from children to OAPs. The basic idea is to get people reading the same book at the same time right across London, to which end – and in recognition of the anniversary of the start of World War I – Louisa Young's novel My Dear I Wanted to Tell You has been selected, and will feature in events at libraries

  1. Various venues
  2. Wed Apr 23 - Wed Apr 30
More info

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival

  • Free

Lewisham is one of only two London Boroughs without a cinema and the NXDFFF is screening films in some very unusual places including a pool hall, a housing co-op, a library, and an old police station. Events include two open-air bike-powered screenings of Attack the Block (Fordham Park.7pm. Saturday April 26) and Grease (Telegraph Hill Upper Park. 8pm. Saturday May 3) as well as family screenings and mainstream feature films. Look online for a full line up of events.

  1. Various venues around Lewisham
  2. Fri Apr 25 - Sun May 4
More info

Camden Create

The inaugural Camden Create festival – an event dedicated to celebrating the area's flourishing creative community – hits London in May. For three days pubs, shops, galleries and other venues across the borough will host a variety of events, many of which are aimed at supporting a new wave of young trendsetters. There'll be talks from some big local names – including Wayne Hemingway MBE, founder of fashion label Red or Dead (May 15) and Alex Proud of Galleries fame (May 14)

  1. Various Camden venues
  2. Tue May 13 - Thu May 15
More info

London Sketchfest 2014

Following a successful debut in 2013,  weekend-long blowout 'The London Sketchfest' is the first ever London festival dedicated to the underrated art of sketch comedy. Each day sees rising troupes performing short sets hoping to be crowned the winner of this year's competition. Plus, as well the comp element, there are solo shows from established sketch acts, including Pappy's, Max and Ivan and The Pin. Check below for each day's line-up.

  1. Backyard Comedy Club 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, E2 0EL
  2. Thu May 1 - Sun May 4
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. Sat May 24 - Sun Sep 7
More info

Holi festival parties in London

If you start seeing rainbow-coloured soot billowing the capital – nobody’s burning a big pile of My Little Ponys, don't worry. It’ll just be hundreds of people chucking powdered paint at each other.The roots of this increasingly popular Technicolor pastime lie in the Hindu festival of Holi – an annual celebration held on the first day of spring (on Monday March 17 in 2014). People of all ages and castes take to the streets to throw coloured water and a powdery paint known

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival (it has its 352nd anniversary in 2014), brings together Punch and Judy professors from around the country for a day of jolly old-fashioned fun. There's a procession led by a brass band with a toast to Mr Punch, a church service with Mr Punch in the pulpit and an afternoon of puppet shows and workshops, with folk music, maypole dancing and clowns.

  1. St Paul's Church, Covent Garden Bedford St , (entrance between King St and Henrietta St), WC2E 9ED
  2. Sun May 11
More info

Grand Designs Live

Whether you're dreaming about building a new home from scratch, or just hoping to improve the one you have, this consumer show based on the Kevin McCloud-fronted TV series promises inspiration. More than 500 exhibitors offer products and services intended to help you build, design or decorate, and a number of full-scale properties are set up to help visitors visualise home improvement ideas. There are talks and advice from McCloud and other design experts. Market Lane will be a

  1. ExCeL London One Western Gateway , Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL
  2. Sat May 3 - Sun May 11
Buy tickets

Spirit of Summer Fair

A boutique shopping event offering summer season styles in fashion, interiors, food, garden accessories and home ware. The Summer Food Hall will host stalls from French charcuterie's to Scottish prize beef. In the Great Taste Awards Theatre you can sample award-winning produce from artisan makers and try different champagnes. There will be flower arranging, canapés, beauty and dessert-making workshops. Look online for full exhibitor details and to book tickets.

  1. Olympia Olympia Way, W14 8UX
  2. Wed May 14 - Sat May 17
More info

London Pet Show

This annual fur-filled show is doubling in size for 2014 and moving to Earls Court One for a weekend of barking, jumping, stroking and shopping. The fair is aimed at both pet owners and anyone looking for advice on taking the plunge.To keep both animals and humans happy, the show is divided into different zones. In the Discover Dogs zone and Cat zone, visitors can meet owners and breeders and get advice on care and training. Plus there are displays to watch and plenty of pet

  1. Earls Court Warwick Rd, SW5 9TA
  2. Sat May 17 - Sun May 18
More info

Foodies Festival

Taking place at two new venues, Marble Hill House and Kenwood House, this festival for food lovers features demonstrations, tastings and master classes with well-known chefs, as well as restaurant tents and a speciality producers market. There will be a Chocolate, Cake, Bake and Preserves Theatre as well as Children's Cookery Theatre. There will also be a Vintage Tea Tent, which will host daily tea dances, a BBQ and a Real Ale and Cider area.

  1. Kenwood House Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR
  2. Sat May 24 - Sun Jun 1
Buy tickets

The View from The Shard: Kids Go Free

Take the kids to see The Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace for free, at the same time. During May half-term at The View from The Shard each paying adult can bring two for free to see the whole the capital from its heighest point. Check online to confirm opening times.

  1. The View from the Shard Joiner St, SE1 9QU
  2. Mon May 26 - Sun Jun 1
More info

Museums at Night: what's on?

Forget the usual opening hours, all the action happens late-night in this series of evening events at London's top museums If the mention of a trip to the museum makes you think of stuffy exhibitions and school trips, well think again. This year's Museums at Night (taking place Thur May 15 – Sat May 17 2014), a series of after-hours events at some of the capital's biggest museums and quirky attractions, is offering Londoners some seriously special

World Naked Bike Ride

  • Critics choice
  • Free

There will be six start points for 2014's ride: West Norwood (from 12.30pm departing at 2.30pm) Clapham Junction (from 2.45pm departing at 3pm), Tower Hill (from 2.30 departing at 3pm), Kings Cross (from 2.30 departing at 3pm), Regents Park (from 2.30) and Hyde Park (from 2.30). Look online here for specific details of each meeting point www.tinyurl.com/worldnakedbikeride. The north and south rides will meet along the way with all cyclists merging at Westminster Bridge and

Dogs Unite for Guide Dogs

Organisers are expecting thousands of dogs, dog-owners, and a few celebrities, to take part in a tail waggingly massive dog walk. Registration is now open for the walk in June and owners are encouraged to raise sponsorship money, which will go towards Dogs Unite's mission- supporting guide dogs that have changed their owner’s lives. Each participating pup will receive a superhero cape and a goodie bag. As well as hosting London's largest dog walk the Queen Elizabeth Olympic

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

  • Critics choice

In 2014 Chelsea Flower Show celebrates its 101st birthday. Londoners need something to get them through the dark days of winter (now Christmas is no more than a dent in their wallets and a bulge round their waists) and what better way to lift the spirits than by dreaming of colour and life and drama and planning a jolly spring outing? It might seem a bit early to be filling in your diary for May but in this case planning is essential because tickets for Chelsea sell out in

  1. Royal Hospital Chelsea Royal Hospital Rd, SW3 4SR
  2. Tue May 20 - Sat May 24
More info
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