Finsbury Park: A Cultural Guide

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Image © vic15 via Flickr

The best things to do in Finsbury Park, north London, including outdoor spaces, theatre and comedy.

Conveniently located in Zone Two on the Victoria, Piccadilly and National Rail lines, Finsbury Park is so much more than Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and the location of Wireless. It is one of the best spots in London for multicultural food, the huge park provides an endless variety of family activities, and culture vultures can enjoy art, theatre and comedy a stone’s throw from the station.

What to eat

Finsbury Park is one of the best places in London to get food, so here’s an edited selection of the highlights: brunch, coffee, dinner, and snacks.

For brunch, go to Blighty Coffee, a Blitz-themed independent coffee house on Blackstock Road. They do breakfasts themed around Winston Churchill and the entire place is decked out in WWII memorabilia, including model planes and Union Jack flags. The food is all homemade, reasonably priced, and delicious, although it’s hard to get a table at the weekends. Boulangerie Bon Matin has an airy atrium at the back and serves savoury and sweet food: go there for pastries or a light lunch.

For a coffee date, you could try snagging a table at Vagabond, which is very popular with the locals and serves coffee and artisan cakes.

For something you might not have tried before, Blue Nile serves Etritean and Ethiopian food. Ask the waiters to choose for you or get a combo platter (five curries or stews you can scoop up with a kind of spongy pancake bread - no need for cutlery).

Other highly rated restaurants for dinner are Dotori, Petek and Pizzeria Pappagone. Dotori serves Japanese and Korean food and is always packed, so either book in advance or turn up after 9.30pm. At Petek, you can get huge portions of tasty Turkish food. Pappagone is run by an Italian family, and has been fêted in a list of the best pizza pilgrimages in London.

For a late night snack after an evening out, head to the Happening Bagel Bakery, which is open until 2am.

What to drink

The Faltering Fullback is the best local watering hole, with an extensive wooden-platformed outdoor area festooned with plants. Another notable pub is the W. B. Yeats in N4, which has live sessions, with bluegrass, roots, and traditional Irish music. The World’s End is another pub that is reasonably priced and usually busy, with a pub quiz on offer at 8pm on Thursdays, with free beer and bar tabs up for grabs.

Things to do

After its refurbishment in recent years, Finsbury Park has facilities to please all sporting fanatics, from tennis and basketball courts to football pitches and an athletics stadium. There are lots of community activities in the park, including drop-in yoga, a ‘community jam’ project where you can join in playing the drums as you go past, and a book-exchange birdhouse. You can also feed the ducks, take a boat out on the lake, and possibly glimpse the lesser-spotted Jeremy Corbyn on his morning run if you’re eagle-eyed. The Parkland Walk stretches from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill, running along a rambling former railway line, and it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Elsewhere in the area, you can try your hand at castle-climbing, which is a fifteen minute walk from the park (the 200 foot-high castle is hard to miss). If you head down Holloway Road, you will eventually get to Freightliners Farm, a free city farm with plenty of animals, plus friendly roaming cats and tasty homemade dishes in the café. At Café Vintage, you can sift through the racks of vintage clothes and stop for a coffee.

Cultural highlights

Finsbury Park is home to a lot of used bookshops: we’d recommend New Beacon Books. A short walk from the station, you’ll find Park Theatre, which always has an excellent fringe programme. You can enter our competition to win free tickets to see their play Beacons and try it out for yourself. Life drawing and portrait drawing classes are on every Thursday at the aforementioned Blighty Coffee. It costs just £7 for a two-hour class with a break. The teacher, Anna, creates a relaxed and friendly vibe with a curated playlist, and materials are provided for a small donation. The T-Bird Comedy Club on Blackstock Road runs alternative comedy nights, with free comedy every Friday.