Hot, Hot, Hot: London Summer Festival Guide 2012

Summer in London makes me feel all warm and gooey inside – well, at least when the sun decides to make a guest appearance. Picnics in the park, jugs of Pimms, London beer gardens, Wimbledon and… festivals!

Notting Hill Carnival, Wireless and Lovebox are the main crowd-pullers but for freebies, turn your attention to the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival or Udderbelly. For something more intimate and niche, try Eastern Electrics or Field Day. And you can forget about the tent, the mud, the nightmarish journey back from the middle of nowhere, because these festival babies are right in the heart of the capital…

If you need a place to stay in London, see our guide Help! I need some cheap accommodation in London. Or, click for a full list of hostels in London and use the map tab to locate cheap hotels and hostels close to your festival of choice.

Now, on to the festivals…

1. Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

When: 21 – 30th June 2012
Where: Old Royal Navy College & other Greenwich venues

This free outdoor arts display with high-energy performances utilises some of London’s architectural landmarks and waterside location. Dance, theatre, family entertainment…

Highlights: Prometheus Awakes, an epic outdoor re-telling of the Greek myth at the Royal Museums, and Ted Hughes’ Crow poems brought to life with puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company (the fellas behind War Horse at the National Theatre). There’s also the Dickensian-themed Greenwich Fair, outdoor dance at Canary Wharf and night-time theatrical ‘spectaculars’ in Bow and Woolwich.

Admission: Free (some shows tickets only)

More info, prices and tickets here.

2. Udderbelly

When: 6th April – 8th July 2012
Where: South Bank

If you like your venues a tad alternative, then a giant inflatable purple cow is just the thing for you. Blown up beside the South Bank, the venue offers 12 weeks of comedy, theatre, a touch of cabaret as well as a pleasant beer and food garden for low-key riverside dining.

Highlights: Loads of comedians! Gina Yashere, Alex Horne, Brendan Burns, Isy Suttie, Greg Davies, Richard Herring, Nina Conti and Milton Jones all have shows on. There’s also Cuban salsa with Havana Rumba, and an improvised musical (it’s different every night!) in the form of Showstopper!

Admission: £10-£20

More info, prices and tickets here.

3. Create

When: 24th June – 26th August 2012
Where: East London

A cultural partnership between five London boroughs bringing you the best world-class talent in the run up to the Olympics. A great range of cheap or free London events including installations, out-door theatre, talks and exhibitions.

Highlights: David Bailey’s images of East London will be shown in his hometown Newham for the first time in 50 years. Immersive theatre company You Me Bum Bum Train will create an interactive adventure on the streets with local people in starring roles, and there’s and open-air concert in Walthamstow pairing Miss Dynamite and NDubz’s Fazer with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Admission: free – £20 tickets

More info and prices here.

4. Wireless

When: 6-8th July 2012
Where: Hyde Park

This huge music festie couldn’t be more central and has the cream of this year’s global superstar crop, as well as up and coming artists appearing on the Barclaycard Unwind Stage. Elite will be on the prowl for models and Superdrug and BNB are offering free express styling, pampering and make-up master-classes.

Highlights: Friday starts off dancey with Deadmau5, Afrojack, Santigold and Jaguar Skills, Saturday is hip hop day with Drake, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa and the Weeknd and on Sunday it’s pure pop time with Rihanna, Jessie J, Calvin Harris and Labrinth.

Admission: Day tickets £55.25, two-day tickets £103.40, three-day ticket £148.50

More info and tickets here.

5. Eastern Electrics Festival

When: 4th August 2012

Where: a secret central London location (TBA)

It’s the inaugural year of this house and techno fest, and expectations are high with a host of huge names already on the line-up. The location’s a secret for now, but we’re assured an all-out, sunshine-fuelled party somewhere central for 17,000 happy clubbers – exciting!

Highlights: Jamie Jones, Crazy P, Joy Orbison, Julio Bashmore, Waifs & Strays, Tensnake, Kerri Chandler, Bicep, Nina Kraviz.

Admission: £35-£40

More info and tickets here.

6. Lovebox

When: 15-17th June 2012

Where: Victoria Park

Love Box always has the most intimate edge of all the big London music festivals. Aside from the musical talent there is cabaret, a vintage bazaar, street theatre and art installations to keep you entertained.

Highlights: Friday it’s Hot Chip, Crystal Castles and Magnetic Man; Saturday packs a punch with Friendly Fires, Emeli Sande, Kelis, Azelia Banks and Little Dragon; Sunday there’s Grace Jones, Lana del Rey, Azari & III, Tiga and Patrick Wolf.

Admission: Single day tickets £29-£49.50, two-day tickets £65-£87.50, three-day tickets £99

7. Field Day

When: 2nd June 2012
Where: Victoria Park

Showing off the talents of this year’s electro and indie darlings, Field Day has the village fair with fete games including a coconut shy and a tug ‘o war. Wash it all down with a brew from the Real Ale Tent and soak it all up again with hog roast.

Highlights: Metronomy, the Vaccines, Sleigh Bells, Beirut, Death Grips, Grimes, Friends, Hudson Mohawke, Liars, Mazzy Star, Gold Panda.

Admission: £45

More info and tickets here.

8. Notting Hill Carnival

When: 26-27th August 2012
Where: Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill

40 static sound systems, hundreds of food stalls, 40,000 volunteers and over two million people take to the streets around Portobello Road for one of the most colourful summer London festivals. Sunday is promoted as kids’ day, but the two become less distinguishable year on year. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend in London so everyone is up for a party. Make sure you bring cash with you as ATM queues are huge, and the machines can run out of money…

Highlights: this is the time and place to scoff jerk chicken, fried plantain and curried goat. Steel bands on floats have been eclipsed somewhat in recent years by dub, drum & bass and R&B sound systems, but there is still plenty of reggae around and something for everyone to enjoy. The chirpiest and most up-for-it crowd hang about the Good Times bus, while super-popular sound systems include Rampage (grime) and Sancho Panza (house).

Like this? Related posts:

Thanks to Lovebox and iwasnteventhere,  Ed.ward, I Don’t Know, Maybe., Gribiche and SPakhrin for images off Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 + 1 =