THE BEST FREE FESTIVALS IN LONDON
WRITTEN BY JASMINE LEE KENNEDY
One of the best things about London is the number of free events that take place throughout the year, specifically the warmer months.
Lambeth County Show
Certainly one of the highlights of the year, this two day South London festival has been a firm favourite since its conception in 1974. Now in its middle age with 46 years behind its belt, the festival has lost none of its flair; every year, the best part of Brockwell Park, Brixton, becomes host to an incredible line-up of reggae, hip-hop, soul and more, played by a mix of up-and-coming acts and famous headliners. One of the best parts about this event? The food. Independent food stalls from far and wide come together for a delicious extravaganza of cuisine from all over the world. You haven’t quite experienced the Lambeth County fair unless you’ve sat on the lush Brockwell park grass, squinting in the sunshine, sipping a pint, with a hefty box of jerk chicken, rice and peas in your lap.
If you can believe it, Camberwell Fair has been going since 1279, as a godly fundraiser for the well-known St. Giles Church – but was shut down in 1855 due to ‘immoral and riotous behaviour’ – fancy that. But in today’s times, the fair is now basking its new-found youth at only 5 years old in 2020. Head over to the festival this August, and you will be audience to lively afrobeat sessions, talented rappers, soul singers and more, as well as plenty of DJ sets throughout the day. While you can bring your own drinks, there are also a large variety of bars, serving beer, craft ale, cocktails, prosecco and more – so don’t worry, there’s a tipple for all tastes to enjoy while you have a bit of a boogie.
Notting Hill Carnival
One of the most raucous weekends of the year, Notting Hill has been named the second largest street event in the world, after Brazil’s Carnivale, of course. It takes place over the August bank holiday every year, on the Sunday and Monday, as a jubilant celebration of West Indian Culture. Expect steel bands, calypso, reggae, drum & bass and more – the music possibilities are endless here – with stages dotted all over and floats making their way through the streets. While arguably one of the best events in London, be ready for long toilet queues (bring your own tissues) and busy crowds. But, if you fancy a day or two filled with colours, dancing and music, make sure you visit Notting Hill Carnival at least once in your life.
Summer By The River
Summer By The River is an astonishing three month festival that takes place, you guessed it, just by the Thames River. It’s the largest free arts and entertainment festival in London, and this year they’ll be transforming the space by City Hall into a “beachy homage to the Mediterranean”, with food stalls, award-winning cocktails and more to enjoy while you bask in the sunshine, overlooking the river by Tower Bridge. Thursdays are reserved strictly for music, while the other days are filled with art, dancing, film and family activities. The line-up has yet to be announced, but last year was absolutely spectacular, so keep an eye out for any updates so as not to miss out.