United Kingdom

The Best Festivals & Fairs in London

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 11, 2017

As one of the world’s great capitals of entertainment, it is little surprise that London plays host to a huge and diverse number of festivals and fairs throughout the year. A vibrant cultural landscape combined with a cosmopolitan outlook draws hundreds and thousands of visitors, while a population of over 8.5 million, including a large number of students and youngsters, mean there are plenty of creative minds to help conceive of such events.

Festival-goers watch a live performance at Lovebox in Victoria Park, East London (Photo: Tim Boddy via Flickr)

In recognition of its heritage for staging festivals and fairs across the city, we’ve put together our selection of the very best set to take place in London throughout 2017. We hope you get a chance to attend at least some of them.

April 2017

Pop Brixton May Day Festival

What better way to start a bank holiday weekend than at a buzzing festival? Now into its second year, Pop Brixton sees the vibrant southwest London district taken over by musical acts, food vendors, face-painting, craft workshops and a whole lot more. Vivid flower bouquets lend kaleidoscopic colour to the event, while a dedicated Zen Den offers mindfulness tutorials, massages and other soothing activities for those keen to escape the hubbub found elsewhere. Live music will span several genres, with Lakuta and Solko, a seven-piece band fusing dub and rock, one of the standout acts. The event is free to enter for all. WHEN 30 April WHERE Brixton

May 2017

Imperial Festival

Ever wanted to journey to the edge of our galaxy, age 50 years in a matter of seconds, land a virtual reality plane, battle the superbugs that live on your toilet, or get behind the wheel of a sun powered racing car? Then the Imperial Festival is the place to be this May. Held over an action-packed weekend, the free-to-enter event features interactive activities, performances, lab tours and workshops across science, new technology, live music, and various other subjects. There are also fascinating talks, creative workshops and a whole host of freshly cooked food to enjoy too. This is a fabulous chance to immerse young people in a fun and educational environment that is likely to spark their enthusiasm for a whole range of fascinating themes. WHEN 6 – 7 May WHERE Imperial College London

Imperial Festival

A visitor samples some high-tech gear at Imperial Festival (Photo: Imperial College London)

Brooklyn Brewery Mash

The Brookyln Brewery’s globe-trotting tours have achieved legendary status among beer aficionados, and anticipation ahead of this year’s London edition is gaining pace. Taking place at MC Motors, a 6,000 square foot East London warehouse, the event features a huge variety of hand-crafted beers along with games, live music and plenty more besides. Inevitably, it is the amber nectar that serves as the focal point, with several guest breweries on hand to showcase their mouth-watering wares. For those who don’t subscribe to the famous drinking adage that “eating’s cheating”, there’ll be plenty of food on offer too. Early bird tickets are £25 and doors will open at 5pm. WHEN 12 – 13 May WHERE MC Motors, East London

Brooklyn Brewery Mash

Drink in hand, a festival-goer holds court at Brooklyn Brewery Mash (Photo: Brooklyn Brewery Mash)

Spin London

The global cycling phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down as more and more people take up this healthy, invigorating hobby. For such enthusiasts, Spin London is a veritable carnival, celebrating the innovation, technology, must-have accessories, apparel and style that are all integral to cycling’s growing popularity. Over 150 cycling brands will be in attendance, including custom-made bike pioneers from Denmark, Belgium, Scotland, Mexico and Germany, while visitors can get a feel for the latest tech, kit and wheels on an atmospheric street-lit indoor track. If that’s not enough, there’s also talks from cycling experts on the main stage, cycling-themed prints and artworks, and a street food market, Ticket are £10 for adults, £5 for teenagers, and children under 12 go free. WHEN 12 – 14 May WHERE London Olympia, West Kensington

London Burlesque Festival

A total of eleven sizzling evenings of sultry entertainment awaits visitors to the London Burlesque Festival, which returns for another year this May promising a packed programme of performances and celebrity appearances showcasing the most eclectic and diverse acts the genre has to offer. For those who are new to burlesque, prepare to enter a world far removed from the mainstream musical theatre that we associate with the term ‘cabaret’. Avant-garde, novelty acts fuse together music, dance and eroticism to create a festival awash with colour, panache, excitement. Go with an open mind, and you’re certain to leave with a new-found appreciation for this captivating, time-honoured art form. WHEN 18 – 28 May WHERE Venues across London

London Burlesque Festival

An extravagantly dressed performer at the London Burlesque Festival (Photo: Conrad-Chua-via-Flickr)

June 2017

Field Day

Last year Field Day celebrated its 10th anniversary, and a cursory glance at this year’s line-up shows that the festival has no intention of scaling back on the prestige of its acts. After ten years which saw it grow to become one of London’s very best musical events, the organisers have landed a seriously big name to mark the start of its second decade. Topping the bill will be headline act Aphex Twin, who will be playing his first live UK show for several years, and revellers will be jostling for position to earn themselves a prime spot to see the mercurial electronic musician in action. One streamlined change for this year is that the festival will be held over one day, rather than the usual two. Ticket prices are £45. WHEN 3 June WHERE Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets

Field Day

Revelers indulge in a hay fight at Field Day (Photo: Andy Lederer via Flickr)

Red Bull Culture Clash

Back for its sixth instalment in London, this hugely anticipated musical showdown will see four new heavyweight sound systems battle for the coveted Culture Clash crown at the 02 Arena this June. With its roots in Jamaican sound clash culture, each event sees competing collectives go head-to-head over four rounds, utilising their biggest tunes, freshly cut dubs, special guests, performances and surprises to win over the crowd and walk away as champion. Notable names from the world of music to have appeared at the event in previous years include Usher, Rita Ora, Disclosure, Example and Stormzy. WHEN 16 – 17 June WHERE 02 Arena, Greenwich Peninsula

Red Bull Culture Clash

Smoke machines let off puffs of purple at the Red Bull Culture Clash (Photo: motormouthshaz via Flickr)

Stone Free Festival

There are few more distinctive figures in the world of music than Alice Cooper and the self-styled master of the macabre will be turning plenty of heads in London this June when he performs at the Stone Free Festival. The event is one of the youngest of London’s musical offerings, but has already gained mass appeal with its showcasing of classic rock across multiple stages. Taking place over two 12-hour days, other notable names set to appear for 2017 include multi-award winning band The Darkness and progressive rock titan Rick Wakeman. Tickets start at £68.25. WHEN 17 June WHERE 02 Arena, Greenwich Peninsula

Bacon and Beer Classic

Like bacon? Like beer? For many of us, this is akin to asking whether the sun rose in the sky this morning. And if you are indeed among the many, then you’ll certainly be keen to hear more about the Bacon & Beer Classic that’s set to descend on London this June. American in origin, the event comes to London for the very first time, promising some 50+ craft beers from regional breweries along with a huge assortment of inventive bacon-infused dishes. There’ll also be unlimited bacon strips for all-comers and a bacon eating contest for those with a competitive spirit. Aside from all things piggy, visitors will get to enjoy live music and a host of fun games including giant Jenga and Cornhole. Tickets start at £39 for afternoon sessions. WHEN 24 June WHERE Tobacco Docks, London Docklands

Bacon and Beer Classic

Bacon and beer at the – yep you guessed it – Bacon and Beer Classic (Photo: Bacon and Beer Classic)

July 2017

Wireless Festival

Finsbury Park is the stage each year for this hugely popular and internationally renowned urban music festival, which returns for 2017 with yet another star-studded line-up. UK grime star Skepta, The Weeknd and US Grammy-Award winning rapper Chance the Rapper have been confirmed as headline acts as the event continues to go from strength to strength. As usual, the performances will span the pop, dance and urban scene, ensuring an eclectic mix for thousands of music lovers. Other stand-out names on the roster include US rapper Nas (for a UK exclusive performance), Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, Kylie Jenner’s beau Tyga, Desiigner and Mike Skinner. Tickets start at £55 for a single day ticket and rise to £160 for the full weekend. WHEN 7 – 9 July WHERE Finsbury Park, Haringey

Lovebox

Lovebox, the inner-city festival with a huge following, returns this summer for its 15th edition. What started as a smallish party now welcomes thousands of music fans each year to East London, where they can catch a diverse programme of top contemporary artists, ranging from home-grown talent to international acts. Join the crowds this summer in leafy Victoria Park to see Frank Ocean, Jamie XX, Chase & Status, Jess Glynne, Rag‘n’Bone Man, Annie Mac, Solange, Kano, Eats Everything and more. Pick up a day ticket from £72.25, or get a full two-day pass from £126.25. WHEN 14 – 15 July WHERE Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets

Lovebox

Crowds go wild in front of the main stage at Lovebox (Photo: Phil Chambers via Flickr)

Afropunk Fest

The London leg of Brooklyn-born music and arts festival, Afropunk Fest, hits the capital this July. Music festival, party, political movement – Afropunk is all of these things, with a focus on championing diversity and promoting the inclusion of people of all skin colours. Watch out for the soon-to-be-announced live music line-up and keep your late-night schedule free for a range of after-hours events, which are due to be held in venues around the city. You’ll be able to browse artworks, jewellery, books, beauty products, food and more at the onsite Spinthrift Market. Day tickets start at £35, full weekend tickets at £75. WHEN 22 – 23 July WHERE The Printworks, Canada Water

Yoruba Arts Festival

The rich heritage of the Yoruba people – one of Africa’s largest and oldest cultures tribes – is celebrated at this annual open-air summer festival at Clissold Park in Hackney, north east London. Performances, workshops, an African arts market, traditional food and live music all feature at the free-to-enter family friendly event. There’s also a children’s play area to keep your little ones entertained – that is if you can drag them away from the on-site sweet bar stocked with a range of ice cream, popcorn, slush puppies and candy floss. WHEN 15 – 16 July WHERE Clissold Park, Hackney

London Yoruba Arts Festival

At stall selling clothing and arts & crafts at Yoruba Arts Festival (Photo: Yoruba Arts Festival)

August 2017

Naija in the Park

Naija in the Park will testify to this. Taking place in Finsbury Park, the event features colourful cultural performances, workshops, children’s activities, Nigerian arts and crafts, comedy, fashion, food and live band music, plus plenty more besides. As well as a social gathering for London’s Nigerian residents, the festival also acts as an educational and business networking platform for community cohesion. Donations and proceeds from the event will go towards the Sickle Cell Society charity. WHEN 5 August WHEREFinsbury Park, Harringay

Carnaval del Pueblo Plaza Latina

Plaza Latina is a joyful yearly celebration of all things South America, by way of Southwark. It’s a completely free event showcasing the local scene and celebrating the contribution of Latino culture across the city of London. It’s a great way to spend a sunny summer day, with traditional live music, dance performances and food stalls to help you taste your way around different Latin American countries. This is a full-on, family-friendly affair, complete with activities for children to get involved in. Join the fiesta fun in Nursery Row Park (nearest tube Elephant & Castle) from 12pm to 9pm. WHEN TBC WHERE Nursery Row Park, Southwark

CAMRA Great British Beer Festival

Roll up for the 40th anniversary of the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival. Loved by ale drinkers all over, this celebration of fine beverages offers tastings of over 900 real ales, craft beers, ciders and perries. And this year there will also be an array of fine English wines to try. Load up on beer snacks and more substantial street food, then enjoy entertainment in the form of live music, pub games and a pub quiz on the Saturday. If you’re feeling particularly ‘studious’, you can add a tutored beer tasting for £17 on top of your ticket price. Entry for one day starts at £11, whereas access to the whole event costs £29. WHEN 8 – 12 August WHERE London Olympia, West Kensington

CAMRA Great British Beer Festival

Cheerful drinkers pose with a GBBF sign at the Great British Beer Festival (Photo: Harmit Kambo)

Notting Hill Carnival

One of world’s most famous street carnivals returns for another year over the late August bank holiday weekend. The event, which has celebrated the capital’s Caribbean communities since 1964, sees the areas of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park taken over by colourfully dressed revellers, soca floats, steel bands and more jerk chicken and fried plantain than you can shake a stick at. It truly is a magical occasion that fuses artistic and creativity with a vibrant community feel that celebrates London’s cultural diversity at its very finest. WHEN 27 – 28 August WHERE Notting Hill, West London

Notting Hill Carnival

A woman bedecked in kaleidoscopic head wear at the Notting Hill Carnival (Photo: Dee McIntosh via Flickr)

September 2017

London Design Festival

For anyone with an interest in the, ever-evolving world of design, this fabulous festival is guaranteed to captivate and entertain. For 8 days each year, dynamic and innovative design projects from some of the best creative talents in the UK and from around the world pop up in venues across London. Designers, architects, artists and retailers all use the event as a platform to showcase their work, with the world famous V&A Museum in west London at the heart of things, hosting a wide range of activities, talks, workshops, installations and exhibitions. Most events are free to enter. WHEN 16 – 24 September WHERE Venues across London

London Design Festival

Visitors sit around a pond in the grounds of the V&A Museum during the London Design Festival (Photo: I-Chi Ko via Flickr)

October 2017

London Oktoberfest East

Bavaria and East London may not resemble each other that closely on paper (although beards feature heavily in both), but Oktoberfest East will attempt to bring them one small step closer. Join the fun in the Alpine Hall, where organisers will recreate the atmosphere of traditional OktoberFest. Drinking, dining, dancing – everything you would expect of a beery, Bavarian knees-up, complete with large wooden trestle tables and proper steins to drink from. In true Oktoberfest tradition, each tent will serve beer from just one brewery. You’re also going to need food – and lots of it. Book yourself a sit-down feast of pretzels and pork shoulder or graze from the street food stalls. WHEN 19 – 21 October WHERE Oval Space, Bethnal Green, East London

London Oktoberfest East

A festival-goer appears unnerved by the task ahead at London Oktoberfest East (Photo: London Oktoberfest East)