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Greenwich and Docklands International Festival guide

Get the most out of the free London spectacular, the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival 2018, with our guide to its best events and shows

© Alex Harvey-Brown
'D-Construction' is on as part of GDIF 2018

Between June 21 and July 7 2018 Greenwich and its surrounding area will be flooded with colourful performances as part of London's biggest celebration of outdoor theatre, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. Most events are free, so pick one you like the sound of from our festival listings below or just head down there to see what you can find –  and if you prefer your theatre performances with a roof over your head, check out latest London theatre reviews or our top ten new theatre shows for some more inspiration this summer. 

GDIF 2018 event highlights

Fly By Night

As darkness falls, 1500 pigeons will light up the sky, soaring over the Thames with tiny LEDs attached to their bodies. Duke Riley's feathery performance premiered in Brooklyn's Navy Yard in 2016. Now it's back, as LIFT festival's homage to the messenger pigeons who played a crucial role in WWI.

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East Thamesmead , Thamesmead Thursday June 21 2018 - Saturday June 23 2018


100 years since (some) British women were granted the vote for the first time, a female high wire walker will take to the skies above Greenwich. 'Undaunted' is a circus spectacle masterminded by tightrope specialists the Bullzini Family, and will unfold above Old Greenwich Naval College.

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Old Royal Naval College , Greenwich Friday June 22 2018

Belly Of The Whale

Ockham's Razor make elegant circus shows where performers hang and tumble over shifting sculptures. Their new show 'Belly of the Whale' takes place on a ribbed, curved structure that suggests a stormy sea. It premieres at Stratford Circus this spring, before an outdoor run at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. 

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Stratford Circus Arts Centre , Stratford Saturday May 5 2018 - Sunday June 24 2018


'Plock' is a splashy, sploshy tribute to Jackson Pollock covers the audience as well as the canvas in paint. Dutch company Grensgavel will kit you out in an overall for this colourful, kid-friendly acrobatic show.  

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Old Royal Naval College , Greenwich Saturday June 23 2018 - Sunday June 24 2018

Dancing City

Canary Wharf's streets, parks and riverside will be flooded with some of the coolest dance performances around by 'Dancing City', a free day of shows as part of Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. This year's line-up includes thrilling set piece 'Origami', where a dancer navigates a giant geometric installation on the banks of the River Thames.

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Canary Wharf , Millwall Saturday June 30 2018

This Is Not For You

The stand-out theatre show of GDIF's 2018 line-up is a new performance from Graeae, the disabled-led company who've produced dazzling, varied works including heartbreaking parenting story 'The Solid Life of Sugar Water' and riotous Ian Drury musical 'Reasons to be Cheerful'. They're commemorating this year's WW1 centenary with 'This Is Not For You', an outdoor show that'll set 25 disabled veterans soaring through the air, after special aerial circus training. It's a tribute to the courage of Britain's wounded veterans on an epic scale, told using integrated BSL and audio description.

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Artillery Square , Woolwich Saturday June 30 2018 - Sunday July 1 2018

Beautiful Thing

Unfolding in a secret location in Thamesmead, GDIF closes with this outdoor dance-theatre love story. It's based on Jonathan Harvey's 1993 play, which entranced Section 28-era audiences with a story of romance between two working-class teenage boys. This new version will take place in the places his story was set (and where the 1996 Channel 4 film was shot). In classic GDIF style, it'll have an amped up production featuring digital production, dance, and live music by a community choir. 

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Secret Location , Brick Lane Tuesday July 3 2018 - Saturday July 7 2018

La Parade Amoreuse

As darkness falls, East London's Roman Road will become a place where strange light-up creatures play. GDIF typically ends with a spectacular night-time parade. For 2018, it's the turn of French company Remue Ménage, who specialise in creating whimsical, lavishly costumed spectacles that mix circus, dance and music - a herd of giant glowing stags will be led through the streets by performers in white satin and luminous hats. 

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Roman Rd , Bow Saturday June 30 2018

Find more outdoor theatre this summer