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Top five: Summer Festivals

14 May 2013 | Rachel Ridge

If you're a Londoner than you know summer isn't summer without frequenting a few festivals! We've scurried away and found the best of the bunch taking place on our very streets. Forget that break the bank getaway, all the fun is here this summer!

Ah sweet summer, the time for holidays, park dwelling and of course the good old fashioned festival. Fine, that bright spell may have lasted all of five minutes but nothing will deter us Londoners from letting loose on the streets of the capital. Especially when the streets in question are jam packed with advantageous festival spectaculars that range from rip roaring Somerset House courtyard parties to an outdoor performance art takeover of Greenwich and the Docklands. Go see Jarvis Cocker muse the myth of celebrity or get lost in eerie silent movies in a candle lit church accompanied by a live organ; there is so much on your front door step you won’t feel the need for that break-the-bank summer getaway! We at London Calling have gathered together the best of London’s summer festivals to make every day of summer feel like a holiday!

 

London Literature Festival

Nestled in the heart of the Southbank, this festival is worked around two prize-reading events – the 2013 Man International Booker Prize Readings and the Women’s Prize for Fiction Readings. Literature lovers can unite and be stimulated by best selling authors reading and discussing their work, live poetry and rare performances of short plays. All seem like business as usual? Wrong. This year the Festival takes the rich and much loved medium of literature, prises it apart, turns it on it’s head and runs with it. And by that I mean Gavin Turk and Jarvis Cocker popping up and debating the cult of personality and the construction of artistic myth in Art and Fame: What celebrity does to Identity alongside Catatonia’s Cerys Mathews bringing Hook Line and Singer: A family sing along, an unveiling of her lifelong collection of songs from her native Wales all the way to her travels to Tennessee. And the most wonderfully unusual, nation’s favourite Rupert Everett offers Vanished Years, a reflection on the nature of reputation and his career so far, as outlined in his no holds barred two best-selling Memoirs Vanished Years and Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins.

 

Summer series at Somerset House

Somerset House proved their party prowess in the days of the Olympics where it wowed crowds in its reincarnation as Brazil’s hospitality house. Somerset House was the place to be last summer with its nights of live music, a hilarious Beatles tribute band in residence and samba dancing raucousness! This year they’re back with a bang ready to pick up where they started off. They’ve found the answer in an explosion of summer concerts boasting big names such as Basement Jaxx, Goldfrapp, Jessie Ware, First Aid Kit, Richard Hawley and Tom Odell all swinging by the beautiful cobbled courtyard. Forget glamping; these eleven days of eclectic musical joy is as refined and grand as a festival can get!

 

Field Day

Although this daylong excursion may be a tad ‘hipsters’ paradise, there isn’t a shred of a doubt that Field Day boasts the best line up of new music the capital has to offer! Located in Victoria Park in the heart of the East End, the festival last year saw Angular rock pioneers Franz Ferdinand’s comeback met by a sea of thousands more than happy to rip it up in the pouring rain. This year the Festival are knocking it out of the park once again with stellar sets from soulful indie queen Bat for Lashes, Four Tet, Animal Collective and Wild Nothings. To accompany your merriment, the Coconut King will be bopping around bringing fresh coconuts to the mix, along with hog roasts, Creole fish cakes, banana fritters, not to mention Sweet’s freshly baked artisan sweet and savoury pastries! With fairground rides thrown in for good measure, this could in fact turn out to be the best party going on this summer!

 

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival

When something is cited as “an event whose annual contribution of the happiness of people in unrivalled”, we listen up! The Greenwich and Docklands Festival is nothing short of a full-blown intervention of outdoor performance on the unsuspecting streets of South East London. This year the Festival will boast 250 shows of the most extravagant, adventurous and overwhelming street performance and art you will see anywhere. As the World Tipped will present masters of bungee and aerial dance in an epic story suspended in the sky. Fragile will see tight wire performers, dancers, trampolinists and clowns caught between earth and sky on a precipitous rooftop garden. A world of possibilities will open up on the streets of London this summer, so don’t miss the chance to saunter the streets and see this historic site come alive.

 

Notting Hill Mayfest Festival

Not content on being the apex of carnival shenanigans, this summer the iconic West London town will open up shop for two weeks of music, opera, sound art, dance, theatre, visual art, lectures, film, food and more. Where else can you watch screenings of old silent movies amidst a candle lit church and a live organ improvisation?The uniqueness doesn’t end there, what with Philippine folk dancers, the Lahing Kayumanggi dance company on board, the London Youth Gospel Choir and workshops such as Threads of Sound where you can make sound through conversation and visual experimentation. On top of all that there will be art exhibitions and the Aeolian Court Opera present La Boheme!

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