Imagine Festival 2023 | What to expect as the family arts fest returns to the Southbank Centre
Highlights of London’s leading arts festival for children aged 0-11 years old.
Why should adults have all the festival fun? This February, London’s leading arts festival for children is returning to the Southbank Centre. The Imagine Children’s Festival is celebrating its 21st year with a jam-packed schedule of over 100 events during two weeks. Parents and carers will be spoiled for choice with a programme of theatre, comedy, music, literature, poetry and dance during the half-term holidays. Over half of the events are free, making the festival accessible to everyone.
Among the highlights of the Imagine Children’s Festival 2023 are CBeebies’ YolanDa’s Band Jam, magician and TV presenter Stephen Mulhern, World’s Youngest DJ DJ Archie and scientists Ben Garrod and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Little ones looking for literature and poetry fun will enjoy readings and workshops from the likes of Michael Rosen, Zanib Mian, Cressida Cowell, and Janelle McCurdy. Meanwhile, budding little theatre aficionados can choose between Julia Donaldson’s Tales from Acorn Wood, Rapunzel, Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish and Hermit.
There will be plenty of interactive activities during the festival fortnight, including writing workshops, unlimited play, craft zone, hip-hop dancing demos with ZooNation’s Youth Company and printmaking with street artist STIK. This year’s festival is relaxed, so families are free to come and go from the events as they please. The bill includes inclusive events, including sensory adapted shows, BSL-interpreted and non-verbal performances.
- The Imagine Festival 2023 runs from 8 – 18 February 2023. At Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Waterloo East or Lambeth North. For more information and booking visit the Southbank Centre website.
Making art affordable and accessible as Roy’s Art Fair returns to the South Bank
Important update 17/3/20: Due to the continuing Coronavirus pandemic, Roy’s Art Fair is being postponed until September 2020.
The Spring edition of Roy’s Art Fair returns to the South Bank this April. The 6th fair will kick off at the riverside Bargehouse from 2 – 5 April 2020. Roy’s Fair is a bi-annual show which makes art affordable and accessible, where art lovers can peruse and buy art in a relaxed environment. With free entry and no hard sell, visitors can enjoy a comfortable afternoon checking out some art. The fair is fully inclusive with an equal balance of men and women artists exhibiting.
The next Roy’s Art Fair will feature a new addition of talks and tours. The talks will feature experts giving advice on introduction to buying and curating for your own space, unleashing your own creativity and the benefits of having art within your workplace. “Disappointman” will be hosting a cartoon workshop, inviting partcipants to create your own cartoon superhero based on your insecurities, feelings, and thoughts.
The fair will be partnered with artist Jonny Concrete, who is famous for creating concrete door stops using waste concrete. Fifteen concrete door stops will be hidden around the capital for the public to find and keep. Follow the journey on Jonny Concrete’s website or Roy’s Art Fair on Instagram.
- Roy’s Art Fair is on 2-5 April 2020. At Bargehouse, Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark or Waterloo. Register for a free ticket online. For more information and tickets, visit the Roy’s Art Fair website.
For more of Metro Girl’s art posts, click here.
Explore the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh in a special, interactive experience
Coming to London this winter and spring is a special, immersive art experience. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam’s hit attraction Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience will run in the capital for nearly four months. Launching on the South Bank on 7 February 2020, the interactive and multi-sensory experience will allow art lovers to step into the legendary Dutch painter’s world. It recreates van Gogh’s life through his own words thanks to the Van Gogh Museum’s research and the artist’s personal correspondence.
The experience will open on the South Bank in the borough of Lambeth – the same borough where van Gogh resided for about a year in 1873-74 in Hackford Road, Brixton. It aims to bring van Gogh’s original works to audiences around the world who cannot see them in the Van Gogh Museum. Visitors will be treated to a fully-automated, audio-guide experience, where they can enjoy stunning projections and interactive installations. People can stand on Vincent’s doorstep or sit on his bed in the state-of-the-art set work. Follow his life story from his childhood in the Netherlands to his Paris studios; from the inspiring Arles countryside to the St. Rémy asylum, and finally, the sombre wheat field where he shot himself in July 1890, before dying of his injuries two days later.
The popular experience comes to the UK following 2019 tour stops in South Korea and Spain, where it attracted 400,000 visitors. Along with London, the Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience will also stop in Lisbon, Portugal this year.
- Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience runs from 7 February – 21 May 2020. At 99 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Waterloo East or Embankment. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-10pm. Tickets: Standard box office Mon-Fri £19, Sat-Sun £21. Advance online – Mon-Fri £18, Sat-Sun £20. Concessions available for students, children and the elderly. For tickets and more information, visit MeetVincent.com.
For more of Metro Girl’s art posts, click here.
Classic seafood, lawn games, cocktails and craft beer at the Applebee’s Fish summer pop-up at South Bank
The capital may be inland, but us city slickers can still enjoy a slice of ‘London-on-sea’ by the River Thames. When it comes to the British seaside, many of us associate it with the quintessential fish and chips. This summer, Applebee’s Fish are bringing a special pop-up to the banks of the river. Over four months, the Applebee’s Fish pop-up will offer delicious seafood, a champagne and oyster bar, craft beer and cocktails, entertainment and a games sandpit. Launching on 14 June 2019, Applesbee’s will be located on the South Bank next to the Underbelly Festival.
With views of the capital’s skyline and the river, visitors will be able to check out the expansive space, incorporating a casual drinking and dining area, along with space to play. Imagine a pergola made of rope and wood, with plants, deckchairs and the scent of fresh seafood.
On the menu will be typical seaside favourites such as the iconic British meal fish and chips, featuring sustainably-sourced cod with a light beer batter. Or if you’re looking for something else, try panko prawns on a cucumber, coriander and mint salad finished with homemade kimchi mayonnaise; seabass ceviche; tuna & salmon tartare and the classic chip butty. For a treat, enjoy rock oysters, supplied by Mersea Island’s Richard Hayward at Borough Market. Guests can knock back an oyster with a shot of Bloody Mary, Champagne and shallot; or tequila with chili and lime.
Meanwhile, when you’re feeling thirsty, there will be a range of drinks available, including Champagne, craft beers from the Harbour Brewery in Cornwall and cocktails including Aperol Spritz and Negroni. Wine lovers can enjoy Goring Sparkling Wine from the South Downs or Champagne Collet from the continent.
Applebee’s Fish is a family-run fish restaurant in Borough Market dating back to 1998. Originally set up as a fish stall, it soon evolved into a popular restaurant. They pride themselves on providing top quality fresh and sustainable fish.
- Applebee’s Fish pop-up will be located on Queen’s Walk (under Hungerford Bridge), Lambeth, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Open 14 June – 15 September 2019. For more information, visit the Applebees Fish website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Roy’s People Art Fair returns this April with affordable and accessible art
Calling all art lovers – the Roy’s People Art Fair is returning to London this spring and is set to be the biggest yet. This bi-annual show provides an alternative platform for artists to show and sell their work. The spring edition of the fair will be taking place at Bargehouse in the Oxo Tower Wharf from 4-7 April 2019.
Roy’s People Art Fair differs from other art fairs as it aims to provide accessibility and community within the art world. The event is artist-led and affordable so artists aren’t seeing their sales dented by rental fees and big corporations taking a cut. Visitors will be able to meet and buy art direct from the 85 artists taking part in a relaxed ‘non gallery’ atmosphere.
During the fair, there will also be live painting, creative workshops, live music, and interactive installations, including a unique installation in the entrance hall by urban artist My Dog Sighs and goody bags worth over £100.
Roy’s People Art Fair was created by artists Roy Tyson and Samuel Peacock. Roy originally started the fair after his own experiences applying and exhibiting at art fairs. He teamed up with Sam to unite their knowledge to bring the fairs to the next level. They aim to work closely with the artists in the run-up to the fair to make sure the event is a successful experience for all participating.
- The Roy’s People Art Fair is running from 4-7 April 2019. Open Thur 5pm–8.30pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat 12pm–6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Tickets: Free on the website. At Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Waterloo, Blackfriars or Southwark. For more information and to register for a ticket, visit the Roy’s People Art Fair website.
Cabaret and circus collide as the Black Cat: Bohemia headlines Underbelly Southbank
Coming to the Underbelly Festival Southbank for the end of the season is a tantalising and thrilling show. Combining cabaret, circus and performance in a dark and daring show from the Black Cat Cabaret. The company will be coming to the Spiegeltent to première their most ambitious show yet, Black Cat: Bohemia.
Opening on 22 August, the show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatics and toe-tapping music as the 12-strong troupe showcase their impressive skills. The production sees the smart and sexy cast bring the spirit of Bohemias past, from Montmartre to Weimar Berlin, from the Hotel Chelsea to the ’80s Blitz Kids, to the 21st century Southbank.
Among the dazzling performers will be flame-haired singer and host Miss Frisky (Frisky & Mannish); aerial daredevil Katharine Arnold; acrobatic duo Charlotte & Nicolas (Cirque du Soleil, Limbo); cyr wheel maestro Jo Moss; tumbler Leon Fagbemi (La Soirée); aerial feline LJ Marles; and burlesque goddess Missy Fatale.
- The Black Cat Cabaret is performing Bohemia at the Underbelly Festival from 22 August – 30 September 2018. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Performances at 7.15pm (Tues-Sat) and 9.15pm (Sat only). Tickets from £19. For tickets and further information, visit the Black Cat Cabaret website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
Feria de Londres 2018: The spirit of Andalusia comes to the South Bank
Brits just can’t enough of Spanish culture, with an estimated 18million of us visiting the Mediterranean country last year. However, this May, you won’t have to wait until your holidays to sample the best of Spain’s entertainment and cuisine.
The second May bank holiday will see Feria de Londres bringing the spirit of Andalusia to the capital. Bernie Spain Gardens on London’s picturesque South Bank will host a three-day long celebration of food, drink, music and dance. As you may know, Andalusia is one of the most popular regions of Spain, featuring resorts and cities such as Seville, Málaga, Marbella and Granada. Feria de Londres is inspired by southern Spain’s spring fairs, which date back to the Middle Ages.
During the festival, entertainers will dazzle in their striking, colourful traditional costumes as they sing, dance and play. Among the entertainment will be flamenco dancers, live bands and DJs. There will be the chance to show off your moves in Sevillana dance lessons to flamenco rhythm workshops. Meanwhile, families can get involved with child-friendly activities, such as face-painting, hair styling, arts and crafts.
Of course, no Spanish festival wouldn’t be complete without their fabulous cuisine. Visitors can tuck into delicious tapas, paella, Iberico ham and much more. Some of Spain’s top food experts and producers will be on hand, offering tastings and samples. When it comes to drink, the famous Tio Pepe will be hosting sherry masterclasses, as well as offering the traditional Andalusian cocktail, the Tio Pepe Rebujito. Guests can also enjoy a range of Spanish tipples, including Iberian beers and regional wines.
- Feria de Londres takes place on 25-27 May 2018. At Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark, Waterloo East or Waterloo. Open Fri 25 4pm-9pm, Sat 26 12pm-9pm, Sun 27 12pm-8pm. Free entry. For more information, visit the Feria de Londres website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
The spirit of old Mortmartre comes to Underbelly Festival with the Black Cat Cabaret
Bringing a bit of sauce to this summer’s Underbelly Festival is The Black Cat Cabaret. The Parisian-inspired show will be at the pop-up venue on London’s South Bank from 20 May 2017 throughout the season.
The dark and daring cabaret extravaganza will be reviving the spirit of vintage Mortmartre at the Underbelly’s Spiegeltent. Guests will be wowed by the high-kicking showgirls, jaw-dropping acrobats, comic street singers, a fire-breathing siren and daredevil aerialists. Compered by the fabulous Dusty Limits, a talented array of performers will take to the stage, including absinthe-addled artistes, flame-haired courtesans and bittersweet comic chanteuses. Expect to be entertained with a combination of high skills circus, original music and choreography.
This summer marks the fourth year the Black Cat Cabaret have wowed the Underbelly (previously known as Udderbelly) crowd. This year’s run will feature the BCC’s original ‘after-hours Montmartre’ show for the first time since 2014. As well as Underbelly, the BCC have also appeared at a host of London’s top nightspots including Café de Paris, Hotel Café Royal, the Hippodrome Casino, and the former Pigalle Club. The show will also be pitching up at Live At Zédel in Piccadilly with their more intimate ‘Salon des Artistes’ dinner and show.
- The Black Cat Cabaret will be at the Underbelly Festival once a month from 20 May – 22 September 2017. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets from £22.50. Over 18s only. For more information, visit the Black Cat website. Tickets can be purchased on the Underbelly website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.
Scotch & Soda review: A cheeky, energetic and skilful blend of music and circus
Headlining this summer’s London Wonderground is Scotch & Soda, a fusion of circus and jazz. The show takes place in the atmospheric Spiegeltent, which really gives a fringe festival vibe. The production features Ben Walsh and the Crusty Suitcase Band, who provide the music while Company 2’s acrobats perform death-defying feats.
At the heart of the show is The Crusty Suitcase band, who perform a sort of hillbilly jazz on a mix of traditional and quirky instruments. Company 2 is an ensemble of Australian circus artists who previously brought the hugely successful show Cantina to Wonderground in 2012. The band and acrobats have taken on characters inspired by the Australian outback and historical circus acts. While the other characters weren’t so clear to me, Mozes is suitably bizarre and eccentric as The Bush Stranger, who kick starts the laughter by flashing the audience, while whizzing around in his clog-style roller-skates.
The premise of the show is a hillybilly, Victoriana get-together over a few drinks and music with the ‘party tricks’ on a whole different level to what we’ve seen before. The tricks start on a small scale with Chelsea McGuffin walking a ‘tightrope’ made of champagne bottles, before building in size and grandeur. There were many moments during the show when I held my breath in anxiety as the performers were suspended from the trapeze or balancing precariously on a huge pile of boxes. I was awed by the strength of the acrobats as the female performers supported the weight of Mozes hanging off them on the trapeze or David Carberry carrying two acrobats on his shoulders while cycling. An interlude from the fast-paced action with a bird act was cute, but a bit underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the show.
Overall, the 70 minute show flew by thanks to musicians and circus artists, who complemented each other well and had a great sense of camaraderie that spread to the audience. The show certainly livened me up on a Friday evening after a long and tiring week at work. Whether or not you’re a circus aficionado, few couldn’t fail to be won over by Scotch & Soda’s cheeky, energetic and skilful brand of music and mastery.
- Scotch & Soda is on at London Wonderground in Jubilee Gardens until 2 August 2015. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tuesday to Sunday 7.30pm, Sunday matinees 4pm, No performances on Mondays or 14 June, 15 June, 16 June, 17 June, 14 July and 28 July. Tickets: £12.50. Suitable for ages 12+. To book phone: 0844 545 82820844 545 8282 or visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk or www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
- London Wonderground runs at Jubilee Gardens from 7 May until 27 September 2015
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Turning circus on its head (and then some): Scotch & Soda headlines London Wonderground
It’s nearly that time of year again – when the Southbank becomes a hotbed of international entertainment at pop-up venue London Wonderground. The festival will be returning to Jubilee Gardens for the fourth year in a row with its heady mix of circus, cabaret, booze, food and fairground rides.
Headlining this year’s entertainment is the critically-acclaimed production of Scotch & Soda. Imagine a group of friends get together and after a few drinks, decide to show off their party tricks. Jazz fusion group Ben Walsh’s Crusty Suitcase Band has teamed up with some of Australia’s top acrobats to create a boozy mix of cabaret and circus. With talented stars from previous productions such as Cantina, La Clique, Cirque and Tom Tom Crew, there will be gravity-defying tricks and beatnik soul galore.
Following hit runs in Sydney and Edinburgh, Wonderground marks the first time Scotch & Soda are coming to the capital. The production will run six nights a week from 14 May until early August, with Sunday matinees.
- Scotch & Soda is on at London Wonderground in Jubilee Gardens from 14 May – 2 August 2015. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tuesday to Sunday 7.30pm, Sunday matinees 4pm, No performances on Monday or 2 June, 14 June, 15 June, 16 June, 17 June, 14 July and 28 July. Tickets: £12.50. Suitable for ages 12+. To book phone: 0844 545 8282 or visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk or www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
- London Wonderground runs at Jubilee Gardens from 7 May until 27 September 2015.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
For Metro Girl’s post on a previous London Wonderground, click here.