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London’s first Borough of Culture has announced its 2019 line-up

Written by
Greg Cochrane

A performance from Damon Albarn and Africa Express, a vast outdoor light installation by Zarah Hussain and a theatrical experience staged in the canopy of Epping Forest are among the ambitious plans confirmed today by Waltham Forest. Having triumphed over 21 other districts to become the first ever London Borough of Culture in a competition initiated by the Mayor, this morning it revealed the line-up for the year-long celebration – and the huge programme mixes famous locals with upcoming talent in music, film and art.

The celebration of culture begins with a three-day opening event, ‘Welcome to the Forest’, on January 11-13, fronted by Leytonstone boy and former Mercury Prize winner Talvin Singh. He’ll tell the story of the borough in an original audiovisual piece, alongside a ‘winter carnival’ street market and a sound-and-light installation at Lloyd Park, home of the William Morris Gallery.

Another Leytonstone native, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, will play a show in the borough with Africa Express in March. Later in the year there’ll be a residency from the New Adventures dance company, led by Walthamstow-educated Matthew Bourne.

The celebrations will also feature a jazz festival on February 16 with performances from Ginger Baker, Thurston Moore and Emma-Jean Thackray; workshops in immersive metalworking running throughout April, inspired by the borough’s history of making tin toys; and a huge bicycle procession through Chingford as part of its May Day Fayre. London’s Art Night festival will take over Walthamstow Market in June.

Local legends are featured too: the life of TV chef Fanny Cradock will be celebrated by Amy Lamé’s Duckie in ‘Queer Celebration of a True British Icon’, and the Barbican will programme a film festival in September, part-inspired by Leytonstone lad Alfred Hitchcock.

For the full run-down of the Waltham Forest line-up, visit the Waltham Forest Borough of Culture websiteBrent takes on the London Borough of Culture mantle in 2020 – and it looks like it’ll have a lot to live up to.

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