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, means there are plenty of creative minds to help conceive of such events.
Artists, scientists, musicians, filmmakers and many more will showcase their work and ideas this year in London; a city that is renowned for hosting festivals and fairs that rival anywhere else in the world. We’ve put together our selection of the very best set to take place from January to December 2019 – hopefully you’ll get a chance to attend at least some of them. And if you can’t make them this year, remember to check the dates for the 2020 editions on the festival websites, too.
London is known for its hectic lifestyle and long working hours, so this health and wellness festival is a much needed escape for the community. The aim is to rest and rejuvenate for the year ahead, emphasising the relaxation process and refocusing on the mind and body. Re:Solutions has such a variety of classes that there’s something to appeal to most people, whether you relax more with yoga or by channeling your energy into dance classes. Speakers and wellness coaches are part of the programme, alongside workshops and evenings filled with live music.
LOCATION Juju’s at The Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Street DATES 2-31 January 2019
London Short Film Festival
Now in its 16th year, the London Short Film Festival has established itself as one of the best UK and International film festivals. From documentaries and fiction to experimental moving image art, the creative, cross disciplinary programming runs alongside industry events to make LSFF top of both filmmakers’ and film lovers’ schedules.
LOCATION Various Venues DATES 11-20 January 2019
London Art Fair
The 31st Anniversary of the London Art Fair brings together over 100 galleries exhibiting modern and contemporary art from across the globe. The main fair will be accompanied by two additional exhibitions: Photo50 dedicating its walls to contemporary photography practices, and Art Projects, which focuses on diversity by providing a platform for international galleries.
LOCATION Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street DATES 16-20 January 2019
Chinese New Year 2019
The London Chinatown Chinese Association brings in the year of the pig with this annual event, offering London a taste of Chinese culture. This is the largest parade outside of Asia with over 30 teams designing floats for the day’s celebrations. Trafalgar square hosts the main stage with performances from midday and other activities include calligraphy, Chinese music, martial arts performances and dressing up in traditional outfits.
LOCATION Trafalgar Square & Chinatown DATES 5 February 2019
Imagine Children’s Festival
A great half term event for those with younger children, Imagine Children’s Festival has over 12 days of fun-filed, action-packed activities, theatre shows and authors to entertain and inspire the next generation of creatives. The multi-arts programme is created for children from 0 – 12 with both free and ticketed events covering performance, illustration and talks.
LOCATION Southbank Centre DATES 13-24 February 2019
With a season dedicated to celebrating flamenco dance and music, this two-week festival injects the passion of the culture into London. The programme includes numerous unique shows exhibiting film, dance and music by some of the world’s best flamenco talent. A true celebration of the history and future of flamenco, the gala explores its gitano roots and showcases emerging talent who will continue the traditions of the culture. Tickets are sold for individual performances with different prices dependent on seating choices.
LOCATION Sadler’s Wells Theatre DATES 14-25 February 2018
The Gin Festival brings gin from across the world to London, including selected rare or limited edition bottles. Masterclasses are spread across four days, with distillers in attendance, so enjoy the great atmosphere and live music by heading to the cocktail bar for your favourite gin based drink. Any gin enthusiast would not want to miss this and tickets are very limited so book in advance! The event has both evening and day sessions.
LOCATION Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane, St Katharine’s & Wapping DATES 16-18 February 2019
Craft Beer Rising
Last year, the UK’s biggest craft beer festival sold over 25,000 pints and this year it looks like the event will be even better than before. The 175 breweries attending offer a selection of craft beers, ales and ciders, and a variety of food stalls and BBQs keep craft beer enthusiasts fuelled all day. The incredible beers, complimenting international tastes and live music combine to make this event unmissable. Tickets can be bought in advance.
LOCATION The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane DATES 21-23 February 2019
One of the nation’s most-loved plants celebrates its Thai origins and culture at Kew Gardens’ Orchid Festival. Escape from the busy streets of London into what seems like another world with its serenity and exoticness. Floral displays, embellished arches and authentic Thai ephemera decorate the gardens; pleasing more than just the eye with tours, talks and activities that share insights into the endangered flower and its use across Thai cuisine, medicine and culture.
LOCATION Kew Gardens DATES 10 February-11 March 2019
Women of the World Festival
Celebrating the power of women and girls across the world, the WOW- Women of the World Festival aims to highlight equal rights and discuss a complex question: why is gender equality taking so long to achieve? Off the back of a year where the #metoo campaign reached almost every industry, the WOW festival is well positioned to debate contemporary problems and celebrate women’s successes. Speakers include female artists, writers, politicians and activists who have been selected for a programme of talks, concerts, art installations, performances, workshops and much more.
LOCATION Southbank Centre DATES 7-11 March 2019
Interested in comedy? Or dance? Maybe theatre or film are more your thing? Whatever you enjoy, Vault Festival has curated a programme that presents artists across disciplines showcasing new ideas. Over eight weeks displays, diverse in both genre and themes, appear in bars and venues across Waterloo, making this London’s biggest arts and comedy festival. The comedy shows will feature some this year’s most highly-anticipated acts with Edinburgh Comedy Award Winners, stand-up heavyweights and TV panel show stars all showcasing new material.
LOCATION Various Venues, Waterloo DATES 24 January-18 March 2019
St Patrick’s Day Festival
London’s annual St Patrick’s Day Festival runs for three days, bringing the best of Irish food, music, dance, art and culture to the capital. A one-day parade is at the heart of the festival, with activities for all ages including family treasure trails and partner community fairs. Experience both old and new film, poetry and music, where the atmosphere always promises to be fantastic. Best of all, no tickets are required to enjoy any of the weekend’s events, so everyone is free to join in.
LOCATION Trafalgar Square DATES 16-18 March 2019
Head of the River Race
Join spectators on the banks of the Thames to cheer on over 400 national and international rowing crews over two separate weekends in March. The Thames Championship Course is a 4.25 mile section of the river from Mortlake to Putney, but you don’t need to be rowing to enjoy the race. This is usually a popular event, so arrive in plenty of time to pick your spot or head to one of the many riverside pubs to see who will win 2019’s fiercely competitive boat races.
LOCATION Thames between Mortlake and Putney DATES 16-17 & 30-31 March 2019
London Coffee Festival
Masters of the coffee industry host a festival that combines coffee and creativity for a weekend, inviting attendees to sample enough coffee to power them through to next year’s exhibition. Open to everyone from industry professionals to individuals who simply love coffee: live music, DJs, exhibitions and coffee based cocktails feature throughout the weekend. Highlights include the bottomless tastings of fresh coffee, world class baristas and specialists, live latte art and labs demonstrating everything you will ever need to know about the caffeinated pick-me-up.
LOCATION The Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Street DATES 28-31 March 2019
It’s difficult to sum up what you’ll experience at Sonica; exhibitions showcase diverse and boundary pushing ideas experimenting with sound based art. Sonica launched in Glasgow in 2012 and since then has toured across the world becoming a permanent biennial event in both its native city and London. Prepare for all your senses to be stimulated, as emerging and established international artists produce multimedia performances combing music, sonic and visual art.
LOCATION Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross DATES 20-21 April 2019
London International Ska Festival
Ska’s origins date back to Jamaican Independence in the early 1960s and since that time the genre’s influence has spanned every corner of the world. This 4-day festival celebrates all things ska – not to mention its progenies such as rocksteady, reggae, dub, 2Tone and skapunk – with some of the world’s most acclaimed performers drawn here by Londoners’ enduring passion for ska music. Among the line-up for 2019 include rhythm & blues legend Georgie Fame, Misty In Roots, 2 Tone Records 40th anniversary Thames cruise and rocksteady stars Keith & Tex and Rudy Mills.
LOCATION O2 Academy Islington & Dixie Queen paddle steamer DATES 18-21 April 2019
Whether participating in the race or cheering from the sidelines, the London Marathon draws thousands of people to the streets of London every year. Previous years have seen over a quarter of a million people from the UK apply to race, with many raising money for charity or achieving personal fitness goals. For those not running, the city transforms into a 26.2 mile street party. Head to the pub, enjoy a drink and maybe a bite to eat- the party or run, depending which criteria you fit, will go on all day.
LOCATION Greenwich – Buckingham Palace DATES 28 April 2019
London Burlesque Festival
The burlesque, cabaret and variety show returns for another year. Bold and memorable performances make up a programme that is recognised as one of the most prestigious of its kind internationally. Since its debut in 2007, the festival has built on its reputation every year continuing to attract international audiences of burlesque fans and intrigued newcomers to the genre. Whatever your knowledge, the festival is choreographed to astound, entice and entrance; pushing the boundaries of burlesque and the expectations of the audience.
LOCATION Shaw Theatre, 100-110 Euston Road, Kings Cross DATES April-June 2019
Now in its 10th year, Alchemy returns to the Southbank Centre celebrating South Asia and its cultural connections to the UK. Over 11 days, the largest festival of South Asian culture outside of the subcontinent will feature the thought provoking work and ideas of both British and international artists. Themes of art, politics and society are explored through its multidisciplinary programme comprised of dance, music, theatre, visual art, comedy and literature.
LOCATION Southbank Centre DATES May 2019
London Craft Week
A relatively young arts festival, Craft Week creeps into hidden studios and even the House of Lords to showcase the craft and artistry of hundreds of independent makers worldwide. Marvel at demonstrations and attend workshops, talks and tours to discover both new practices and innovative ideas on traditional craft. London Craft Week is a not-for-profit event so anyone can attend to access new techniques and learn practices themselves.
LOCATION Venues across London DATES 8-12 May 2019
With world renowned photo festivals taking place across Europe, London decided to host its own to cement its cultural capital status. Now in its third year, the fair gives opportunities to both established artists and galleries and emerging photographers, through the Discovery section and talks programme. Somerset House welcomes an audience of photographers, curators, art dealers and exhibitors, as well as the public to enjoy and celebrate the contemporary photographic medium and its past.
LOCATION Somerset House DATES 16-19 May 2019
MCM Comic Con
For three action-filled days, pop culture enthusiasts from around the world gather at the MCM Comic Con, attending fascinating panel sessions, meeting special guests and plenty more. This extravaganza will see some of the most creative costumes and dedicated fans immerse themselves in everything to do with comics, movies, gaming, anime, television and gadgets.
LOCATION ExCeL London DATES May 2019
All Points East
All Points East is a ten day celebration of music and entertainment, encompassing a three day music festival, a community focused programme and three additional headline shows. Opening the festival will be The Chemical Brothers, who will top a lineup that also includes Hot Chip, Primal Scream, Spiritualized, Little Dragon and Danny Brown. Meanwhile on closing duties will be Bon Iver.
LOCATION Victoria Park DATES 24 May 25 – 2 June 2019
This year Field Day Festival will debut at a new location; moving away from its home of 11 years in East London. Known as one of London’s best music events, the festival also hosts street food stalls and local brewers within its fields so festival goers are spoilt for choice in terms of drink, food, music and activities. The line up has yet to be announced, but with its popularity building and headliners only getting better year-on-year, invest in a ticket now to be sure you don’t miss out.
LOCATION To be announced DATES June 1-3, 2018
Returning to a yet to be announced location in London, this one day festival has a reputation for staging extravagant shows with the best pop and guilty pleasure acts from across the world. Each stage is curated by different clubs and many are returning off the back of a brilliant festival last year. Promising to be a show-stopping day out, the energy of the audience is almost as unmissable as the music; the atmosphere an unfettered celebration of freedom and diversity.
LOCATION To be confirmed DATES 8 June 2019
Open Garden Squares Weekend
Rooftop conservatories and city centre plantations open their gates for one weekend this June. Across the entire city find little rural paradises and hidden natural gems, flowering in London’s summer weather. Larger public gardens that participate in the event also host guided walks, family activities, entertainment and food and drinks stalls for guests to enjoy, making this the perfect day out in the city.
LOCATION Venues across London DATES 8-9 June 2019
Stone Free Festival
Stone Free Festival is an all day celebration of classic rock, which has previously dedicated its stage to legends Alice Cooper, Rick Wakeman and the Darkness, not to mention German rockers Scorpions. Taking place over two 12-hour days, much of the lineup for this relatively new festival is still to be announced but, with high profile musicians regularly joining the bill, rock fans are advised not to wait too long to buy their tickets.
LOCATION 02 Arena DATES 16-17 June 2019
Taste of London
A lineup of London’s most exciting restaurants and world class chefs unite for the summer edition of Taste. For five days, a foodie paradise will evolve in Regent’s Park where attendees will get the opportunity to craft their own cocktails, follow live cooking demonstrations and shop at over 200 food and drinks stalls. So, whether you decide to attend a lunch or dinner session, your picnic in the park might just reach new levels of sophistication and flavour.
LOCATION Regent’s Park DATES 19-23 June 2019
Great Exhibition Road Festival
Imperial College brings its annual Festival out onto Exhibition Road for a weekend of art and science. Collaborations with 20 neighbours across the so-called ‘Albertopolis’, including some of the world’s most iconic museum’s and institutions, will create a unique festival fusing art, science, technology and curiosity, invoking the spirit of the first Great Exhibition in 1851.
LOCATION Exhibition Road, South Kensington DATES 29-30 June 2019
Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
The world’s largest annual flower show returns to the historic surroundings of Hampton Court Palace in southwest London this July. Visitors can explore innovative show gardens, peruse stunning flower displays, and watch demonstrations by celebrity gardeners and chefs around the showgrounds. You can also pick up gardening tips and shop around for materials that can turn your garden into your very own private oasis.
LOCATION Hampton Court Palace DATES 1-7 July 2019
British Summertime Hyde Park
Some of the world’s most famous performers descend on London’s beautiful green expanse of Hyde Park for two weekends of live open-air music this July. This year’s event will see headline shows from legendary musical names including Florence + the Machine, Robbie Williams, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, and more. There are also plenty of food and drinks vendors to keep revellers energised.
LOCATION Hyde Park DATES 1-14 July 2019
Parallax Art Fair
Attracting both established and emerging artists, the Parallax Art Fair showcases up to 3,000 pieces, making it one of the most diverse and varied art shows in London or anywhere else. The 2019 edition at Chelsea Town Hall will follow the same pattern as previous editions – namely subverting traditional art fairs and their tendency to explain everything to visitors through tours and lectures. Instead, Parallax leaves you to interpret the art for yourself. It’s a novel approach – and a hugely successful one. As an added bonus, attendance is free of charge.
LOCATION Kensington Town Hall DATES 7 July 2019
Cocktails In The City
Now into its sixth year, regular attendees at this annual event will enjoy a novel new location for 2019 in the shape of the subterranean labyrinth of atmospheric railway arches and secret passageways that are The Vaults in Waterloo. It is here where 25 of London’s finest mixologists will be on hand to serve up an array of exotic cocktails. Also new for this year are a secret garden overflowing with plants and botanicals, a relaxation room with champagne and sumptuous furnishings, and an award-winning bar all the way from Florence.
LOCATION Bedford Square Gardens DATES 12-13 July 2019
Mezcal Week Agave Tasting Festival
Part of London Mezcal Week, the 3rd annual edition of this boozy festival is once again promising a full-scale takeover of bustling Kingsland Road in London’s achingly hip Shoreditch district. Over 50 agave spirits – liquor that is native to Mexico – will be available to sample and purchase at the TT Liquor store, and there’ll also be various other events including talks and seminars by some of the spirit industry’s leading experts, parties, pop up mezcalerias, cocktail classes and plenty more throughout the week.
LOCATION Kingsland Road, Shoreditch DATES 19-20 July 2019
London Film & Comic Con
Film fan boys and comic connoisseurs will be licking their lips in anticipation ahead of the latest edition of London Film & Comic Con, which returns to Olympia this July. With nearly 100,000 visitors likely to attend, there can be no doubt that the power of popular culture remains alive and well. The event offers a broad programme, but the main attraction is the chance to meet your TV, film and comic heroes in the flesh. There’s also a host of other activities including photo shoots, panels, autograph sessions and hundreds of stalls packed full of TV and film memorabilia.
LOCATION Olympia London DATES 26 July 2019
This annual festival of cycling takes place over a full weekend, with a 100-mile mass-participation cycle ride on the Sunday being the main highlight. More than 125,000 riders have crossed the famous finish line on The Mall since the event began in 2013, raising tens of millions of pounds for charity on the way, and this year’s event promises to add significantly to those impressive numbers. The exact route to be traversed will be confirmed closer to the time.
LOCATION Routes across London DATES 1-4 August 2019
Great British Beer Festival
This live beer experience invites lovers of the amber nectar to choose from over 1,000 British and international beers, ciders and perries, alongside a fabulous wine and gin bar (new for 2019). The 2019 edition of the festival promises to take revellers on a memorable journey from the smallest seed to the perfect pint, offering them the chance to come and experience the natural magic of grain to glass, while enjoying live music, delicious street food and an incredible selection of only the finest beers available.
LOCATION Olympia London DATES 6-10 August 2019
Europe’s largest celebration of drag returns for 2019, once again featuring dozens of revered drag artists from around the world. Visitors can look forward to a whole host of special appearances, including BBC’s The Greatest Dancer stars The Globe Girls. There’ll also be the chance to peruse a drag market, watch talks and performances, and participate in workshops. Meanwhile brand new for 2019 is a photobooth where visitors can get snaps of themselves in their drag wear to take away as souvenirs.
LOCATION Olympia London DATES 17-18 August 2019
The Gin and Rum Festival
Gin lovers can sample over 60 different gins and rums at this popular annual festival, where knowledgeable staff are on hand to advise you on picking out your preferred type of tipple. On arrival, you’ll receive a branded Copa glass, guide and glass satchel, which are all yours to take home. There are also talks and master classes from renowned gin and rum producers, and live entertainment in the shape of an award-winning resident DJ and a dancing area.
LOCATION The Oval DATES 23-25 August 2019
Notting Hill Carnival
A yearly celebration of London’s Caribbean communities, their culture and traditions, this world famous carnival has been taking place in the capital since 1966. The event takes places over two days and features a parade and live music, including reggae, dub and salsa, all pumped out from dozens of static sound systems. Throughout the carnival you’ll also find plenty of vendors selling mouth-watering Caribbean street food.
LOCATION Notting Hill DATES 24-26 August 2019
If you didn’t quite get your fill of Caribbean food at Notting Hill, then following on it from it the very next weekend will be this one-day Caribbean cuisine, music and culture extravaganza. Taking place in a pretty canal side setting, visitors can tuck into an array of Jerk-style food, including jerk chicken, vegan Jerk, Jerk prawn, Jerk pork, Jerk wings, and Jerk dogs. Other highlights include a Hot Wing Challenge, Patty Eating Competition, cooking demos, face painting, live talks, a record stall and a raffle.
LOCATION Brick Lane DATES 1 September 2019
The River Thames has played a crucial role in London’s trade and commerce down the ages – and continues to do so to this day. This month-long event is designed to celebrate and showcase the majestic, meandering waterway with events and activities taking place along its full 42-mile expanse. There are large-scale art installations, free exhibitions and live performances, plus boats of all shapes and sizes navigating the waters for the occasion.
LOCATION Various venues along the River Thames DATES 1-30 September 2019
The green expanse of Croydon Road Recreation Ground in south London is the stage for a full-on garden party featuring an impressive line-up of musical talent for a day of motown and soul. Notable names to perform at the 2019 edition will include Jocelyn Brown, Evelyn Champagne King, James D Train Williams, Joyce Simms and many more. Earlybird tickets and VIP tickets are both available.
LOCATION Croydon Road Recreation Ground DATES 7 September 2019
London Design Festival
London’s reputation as a global epicentre of innovation in the field of design continues to stand strong, and this week-long annual festival offers further endorsement of this status. With the hub of the action taking place at the prestigious V&A Museum, the festival offers a platform for designers, architects, artists and retailers to showcase their talents. Visitors can check out installations, exhibitions and events at museums and studio spaces both large and small across the capital, as well as join tours and workshops.
LOCATION Venues across London DATES 14-22 September 2019
The London edition of this globally renowned art fair that also has shows in New York and Los Angeles returns to the capital for 5-days of showcasing world-class contemporary art from some of the world’s best international galleries. The event is also held in parallel with Frieze Masters, which specialises in art from the past, from the ancient era to the late 20th century.
LOCATION Regent’s Park DATES 2-6 October 2019
Regent Street Motor Show
Car loving adults and kids with a penchant for all things on four wheels are in for a treat in London this November thanks to the largest free motor show of its kind in the UK. For one day each year, the prestigious London shopping street of Regents Street is taken over by a dazzling array of classic and futuristic vehicles. The event showcases over a century of motoring history, with classic automobiles dating back to the early 20th century on display.
LOCATION Regent Street DATES 2 November 2019
Diwali on Trafalgar Square
The Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of lights sees the multi-cultural make-up of London at its most colourful and diverse. Taking place at iconic Trafalgar Square, the event features live stage music and dance performances, cultural activities, family-friendly craft activities, community stalls and delicious food hailing from the Indian sub-continent.
LOCATION Trafalgar Square DATES 3 November 2019
Lord Mayor’s Show
An elaborate parade, dancers, horses and military marching bands are just some of what to expect at this 800-year-old tradition. More than 500,000 people line the streets to watch the colourful parade, as around 140 floats, 7,000 performers, the Lord Mayor’s Coach and two giant wicker figures navigate the three-mile long route from the City of London to Westminster.
LOCATION From Guildhall to the Royal Courts of Justice DATES 9 November 2019
London Jazz Festival
London has a rich jazz heritage and each year the capital plays host to an acclaimed jazz festival. Bringing together both established and emerging talents from the world of jazz, the event plays host to concerts, events and performances at venues across the city. Among the distinguished jazz names to have performed at previous editions of the festival include Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, the Gipsy Kings and Wayne Shorter.
LOCATION Venues across London DATES 15-24 November 2019
The Peter Pan Cup
The waters of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park normally only attract more than a sprinkling of swimmers during the hottest of summer days, but the Peter Pan Cup provided a notable exception. An annual Christmas Day ritual, the event sees intrepid members of the Serpentine Swimming Club swim the traditional 91 metres across the lake – which is usually below 4C degrees at this time of year. Participation is open only to club members who have qualified during the season. Spectators are welcome.
LOCATION Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park DATES 25 December 2019