Heading back to university in London at the end of summer? Need something to ease the transition from sunshine to study? Start your year with a bang by checking out one or more of the many late summer festivals in London and further afield.
When people say festival, the first thought is usually music, and while there are plenty of stellar line-ups to wrap your ears around, don’t discount more boutique and specialist festivals. These often have great music too, just with an added twist. London is a cocktail of ethnicities and culture and the city revels in this variety. Living in the capital, you’ll know that around every corner there’s something new to experience, and it’s no different for London festivals. So, whether you fancy a one-day, weekend, or week-long week festival to get back you into the city lifestyle, you’ll be sure to find the perfect vibe. But with the sheer amount of festivals on offer, it can be hard to decide what’s best. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to our favourite late summer London festivals.
Food and Street Food Festivals in London
From street food festivals like Meatopia in the industrial Tobacco dock to the London Brunch Fest on Brick Lane, there’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into! Our pick of the bunch? The Tower of London Food Festival running from the 7th to the 9th of September on Tower Hill.
The Tower Of London Food Festival
Food tourism has seen an exponential rise in recent years, and in London especially, it feels like you can find a street food event almost every weekend. We’ve chosen the Tower of London Food Festival because, not only do you get the very finest in street food, there are also live demos from chefs at the very height of their careers. Expect the likes of Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, Melissa Hemsley and Dr Rupy Aujla. And remember, the Great British Bake Off starts up again soon, so this is a perfect chance to get a heads-up before the nation goes bake-off crazy!
Late Summer Music Festivals in London
While SouthWestFour often takes the limelight, there are plenty of other music festivals around London, Greater London and Southern England worth your time. The Isle of Wight plays host to Eklectika, featuring the likes of The Fratellis, The Hoosiers, Scouting for Girls and Toploader. A little closer to home, just a train ride away, Plymouth’s Looe Festival hosts a variety of acts from the likes of folk-rock superstars, the Waterboys, to contemporary world-music party starts, Molotov Jukebox.
OnBlackheath Music Festival
For a festival on your doorstep, our hot tip is OnBlackheath, a celebration of South East London. Originally a showcase of the local area, the festival now includes acts from North of the river and the other side of the world too! Running over the weekend of the 8th September, it’s the perfect welcome back to London!
Expect plenty of tasty food, including fresh vegan stalls, forward-thinking street food, and delicious desserts. There’s also plenty of bizarre fringe entertainment and of course, a line-up of the very best music. Legends of South East London, Squeeze, bring their classic Deptford sound to centre-stage, as well as newer London acts like Mancie Baker and the American funk and hip-hop superstars, De La Soul. Other acts include London sweetheart Paloma Faith, the jazzy James Taylor Quartet and Rare Groove legend Norman Jay MBE to name a few. As a welcome back to London, it doesn’t get much better than OnBlackheath Festival.
Art, Film and Special Interest Festivals in London
Late summer festivals in London don’t have to centre around music. For a festival vibe you may not have experienced, check out one of the many art, film and special interest festivals in the capital. Whether you’re an amateur, a student in the field, or an industry professional, this will be the kind of festival you’ll want to tell everybody about for weeks after. And remember, these are the kind of festivals that are great for networking, so if you’re an art student, get ahead of the curve by seeing what’s on offer!
How The Light Gets In
For those interested in philosophy, How The Light Gets In – 22nd / 23rd September – is the world’s largest philosophy and music festival. Philosophy is a big term and doesn’t just mean classical historians spouting off on Nietzche and Freud. So, for example, you could catch Rebecca Goldstein expanding on her book ‘Plato at the Googleplex’ – an imagined visit from Plato to Google headquarters and how he’d react to the modern world. Steve Lazarides, the man behind renowned artist Banksy, will be talking about his move away from street art to Lanzic, his new contemporary gallery on Mayfair. If politics is more your thing, check out Homi Bhabha’s exploration of the impact colonialism and imperialism has had on the modern world.
Break up the more informative speakers by checking out a hot new comedian or musicians like Rae Morris, Ewan Pearson and Savage. Or, just wander around the grounds of the stunning Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath and take in the unique blend of debates, talks, music and comedy. For students, we can’t emphasize enough how important festivals like How The Lights Get in are for networking and expanding your horizons.
The Start Art Fair and ArtLicks Weekend
If canvas, paints or photography are more your scene, consider the ArtLicks Weekend or the StartArt Fair at the Saatchi Gallery. ArtLicks runs exhibitions, talks and workshops in 65 galleries around London, while the StartArt Fair sticks to the one gallery, showcasing the very finest of established and up-and-coming artists in one easy access location.
The Raindance Film Festival
Are you an aspiring film-maker or just a television junkie? Either way, the Raindance Film Festival is a fabulous exhibition of everything motion picture. With a world-renowned programme of the best independent films from both the UK and around the globe, the Raindance Film festival is a great way to discover the newest talents in the field. Expect plenty of networking events, talks and panels, and of course, showings of the very best independent shorts and feature length films.
Whatever your interests, there’s always a million-and-one events and activities to take part in throughout the capital. Start your year as you mean to go on and check out one of our hotly-tipped festivals – who knows where it could lead to!