Festivals

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


Great festivals taking place in the capital

Olympia, The London International Horse Show

Four legs good, 400 sets of four legs even better. Now in its 107th year, the equine world’s annual Christmas party will attract internationally acclaimed riders, Olympic Gold Medallists and horse-lovers from all over the country for world cup competitions, remarkable displays, festive entertainment and even a shopping village. World number one dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin is expected to compete in defence of her title, as is Scottish showjumper Scott Brash and world

  1. Olympia London Hammersmith Rd, W14 8UX
  2. Until Mon Dec 22
More info

Turner Prize 2014

  • Critics choice

After travelling to Derry-Londonderry last year, the annual exhibition returns to London this autumn with four more hopeful artists all vying for the glory of winning the coveted Turner Prize. This year’s jury include Stefan Kalmar of Artists Space, New York, Helen Legg of Spike Island, Bristol and Sarah McCrory of Glasgow International Festival, who have the difficult honour of selecting a worthy winner from the 2014 line-up of Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards

  1. Tate Britain Millbank, SW1P 4RG
  2. Sun Dec 21 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Festival of the Spoken Nerd

An unashamedly geeky celebration of comedy, science, maths, music and experiments, with stand-up mathematician (no, not a combination we ever thought we'd be noting either) Matt Parker, musician Helen Arney and experiments guy Steve Mould. January 2015's shows are being recorded for DVD release.

  1. Bloomsbury Theatre 15 Gordon St, WC1H 0AH
  2. Fri Jan 16 - Sat Jan 17
More info

Southbank Centre Winter Festival

  • Free

Alongside its array of festive shows and performances the Southbank Centre will be celebrating the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. The annual Christmas market will be bigger and better than ever, there'll be a Scandinavian Lodge courtesy of Rekorderlig Cider, the Christmas Tree Café will be serving treats for all ages and thrills come courtesy of the Festive Flyer ride. The Southbank Centre Express will be providing bankside train rides, and you can

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Until Sun Jan 11
More info

The Adventure Travel Show

This large-scale show is just the excuse you need to get bitten by the travel bug and book yourself a new long-haul adventure. As well as stands from tour operators, volunteer services and tourism representatives from all over the world, the exhibition will host more than 100 free talks, and visitors can book in for travel writing and photography seminars. The line-up of speakers are an impressive collection of people whose headshots look like stills from a Ridley Scott disaster

  1. Olympia London Hammersmith Rd, W14 8UX
  2. Sat Jan 17 - Sun Jan 18
More info

The Christmas Festival at St John's Smith Square

  • Critics choice

The beautiful St John's church in Westminster hosts its annual Christmas series, which is always deservedly popular. Choral highlights this year include festive concerts by the City Of London Choir, the Parliament Choir, the Tallis Scholars and the Tenebrae Consort, and of course the closing performance of Handel's 'Messiah' by Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment: a tradition that turns 20 years old in 2014.

The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Back for 2015, this event is a must for all bike, sport, travel and outside enthusiasts with plenty of information, shopping opportunities, guest speakers and family-friendly have-a-go experiences. This year sees WhaleFest London join the lineup, a pop-up which boasts life-sized replica whales and an indoor whale watching experience, giving insight into just how clever these creatures really are. Climbing plays a major part in the day's lineup so it's only fitting that a new

  1. ExCeL Centre 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL
  2. Thu Feb 12 - Sun Feb 15
More info

Alluring Orchids

Find out how orchids are actually temptresses in disguise at Kew Gardens at this festival celebrating the beautiful and temperamental flowers. A series of carefully crafted displays will explain the ways in which orchids have developed to attract the pollinators they need to procreate. Hidden patterns on petals are revealed using ultraviolet light and there'll be tours and talks with researchers and specialists for those who want to learn more. Three late openings will take place

  1. Kew Gardens
  2. Sat Feb 7 - Sun Mar 8
More info

Imagine Children's Festival

The kids are in charge at the Southbank Centre once more this February as their two-week children's festival returns. In 2015, expect a wide range of captivating theatre, dance, music, film and comedy plus readings form some of the Uk's favourite authors, with free and ticketed events for young people of all ages.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Mon Feb 9 - Sun Feb 22
More info

Chinese New Year

  • Free

London’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations, the biggest in the world outside China, bring a great swathe of Chinatown to riotous life once again for 2015. There will be a small ceremonial event on Saturday February 21, but the majority of the festivities will take place on Sunday February 22. Expect a parade, traditional acts from China and dragon dancers weaving their way through the crowds. Chinatown itself will go bonkers, with New Year-themed decorations, special menus

  1. Chinatown near Leicester Square, WC2H 7JS
  2. Sun Feb 22
More info

WOW: Women of the World Festival

This festival celebrating all that is great about women and girls (and all the great things they have achieved) is back for a fifth year in 2015 with a week of talks, debates, concerts, film, comedy and workshops. The line-up will feature an impressive selection of international guests, including many famous faces.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Mar 1 - Sun Mar 8
More info

FutureFest

What does the future really hold for us? We're still holding out for tubes that fling us across town like they have in 'Futurama', but even if pipes aren't in the pipeline there are lots of advances to get excited about, and they'll all be explored on the line-up at this two-day festival of innovation. Expect discussions on the future of democracy, the security and technological changes behind the way we now use money and the effects of robots on the working world. More hands-on

  1. Vinopolis 1 Bank End, SE1 9BU
  2. Sat Mar 14 - Sun Mar 15
More info

The Edible Garden Show and Good Life Live

Is your organic vegetable box delivery just not cutting it anymore? Those who have aspirations of allotments and windowboxes taped to their front doors will love this show celebrating the edible goods you can pull form the ground. Exhibitors will include The Garden Museum, The British Beekeepers Association, Kitchen Garden and the British Hen Welfare Trust, while wild food forager Mark Lloyd and chef and writer Rachel Green will present tempting demonstrations in the 'Cook It!'

  1. Alexandra Palace Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY
  2. Fri Mar 20 - Sun Mar 22
More info

London Pet Show

This annual fur-filled show is moving to the ExCel centre in 2015 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, and visitors can meet owners and breeders and get advice on care and training for whichever creature they're most interested in. Keep an eye out for the live rabbit show jumping, doggy

  1. ExCeL London One Western Gateway , Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL
  2. Sat May 9 - Sun May 10
More info

London Craft Week

This new week-long festival of activities and exhibitions celebrates craftmanship in all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies across London. Famous galleries and specialist workshops alike will host events to showcase both ancient skills and exciting new talent. The inaugural year will focus on central locations such as Bloomsbury and Mayfair, which have been hubs of industry and craftsmanship for many centuries. The full programme will be announced on February 1 2015.

  1. Various Venues
  2. Wed May 6 - Sun May 10
More info

Clerkenwell Design Week

The three-day design festival will bring creative innovations from all over the world to Clerkenwell for a sixth year in 2015, opening showrooms, studios and galleries in the area to the public. Four specialist exhibitions will showcase high-profile brands, lighting, up-and-coming design talent and small design pieces and accessories. New commissions, street art, workshops and a lively programme of talks add colour to an already striking festival line-up. The event is free, but

  1. Various Clerkenwell venues
  2. Tue May 19 - Thu May 21
More info

Alchemy

This ten-day festival is a celebration of South Asia's rich culture, with a line-up featuring music, dance, literature, film and fashion. In 2015 topics covered will include the area's changing cultural landscape and the juxtapositions between classical and folk traditions. Events announced so far include a performance from acclaimed Indian singer Shreya Ghoshal and the Jaipur Literature Festival (May 16-17), which showcases South Asia's multilingual literary heritage.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri May 15 - Mon May 25
More info

Mind Sports Olympiad

There are, it seems, myriad ways of proving your prowess – and winning gold, silver or bronze medals – that don’t involve getting sweaty. This annual festival of the mind will feature sedentary tournaments in more than 60 board games. Classics such as chess, draughts, Scrabble and Monopoly all feature alongside more recent hits such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Card games, an amateur poker world championship, a general knowledge quiz, and even a Tetris tournament

  1. JW3 Jewish Community Centre, 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET
  2. Sun Aug 23 - Mon Aug 31
More info

The London Flower Show

London already has a flower show, and an internationally renowned one at that, but Chelsea is a long way from Bow, so East End horticulturalists will no doubt be pleased about this three-day festival of gardens, flowers and plants in Victoria Park. As well as trade stands, garden installations and growing competitions (with £10,000 in cash prizes to be won) the event will feature live music and and on-site bar and restauramt.

  1. Victoria Park Victoria Park Rd, E3 5SN
  2. Fri Sep 11 - Sun Sep 13
More info
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