The free two-day festival is back in E17 – and you should never underestimate the WGP
‘Oh, you’re really not as far away as I thought!’ – anyone who has lived in Walthamstow will have heard those words at least once, usually from a visiting friend who could just never imagine living outside Zone 2. To some Londoners, Walthamstow is the wilderness, a suburban countryside where buggies outnumber humans and kestrels circle overhead. And when you ask them if they’re up for Walthamstow Garden Party, they act like you’ve just challenged them to the coconut shy at your village fête. But WGP is one of the best outdoor parties in London: it’s two days long, it’s free, it’s relaxed and it’s as welcoming to families as it is to rowdy crowds who didn’t want to fork out for a ticket to Lovebox.
The 2019 edition is going to be extra special too, seeing as Waltham Forest is this year’s Borough of Culture (have we mentioned that? We may have mentioned that). The Barbican has curated the main stage, with American gospel from The Blind Boys Of Alabama, sets from Mali’s Afro-pop superstars Amadou & Mariam and Brazilian rapper Tássia Reis, and readings from the Barbican Young Poets. Aside from the main events, it’s brilliant for just milling around. You can’t cross the park without walking into drum band performances, weird circus stuff and cute gift stalls. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy a little pot of sorrel, carry it around all day, and forget it by one of the speakers.
The only snag is how popular it’s become: unless you get there early, there might be a one out, one in-style queue at Lloyd Park’s gates.
By the end of the evening, that Zone 2 friend will be flailing around to some Colombian electro with a circle of strangers, splashing pints of Wild Card beer all over the grass as they shout ‘This is actually really good.’ Yes, Karen. That’s right. It is really good. And you know what else? There are kestrels in Walthamstow. And they are absolutely majestic.
Lloyd Park. Walthamstow Central tube. Sat Jul 13-Sun Jul 14. Free.
Looking for a free music and arts festival south of the river? Try Turning Tides on Greenwich Peninsula.