Named as the first ever London Borough of Culture, Waltham Forest is one the capital’s most diverse regions. The award from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will be a year-long celebration of creativity, character, diversity and culture, in recognition of the many different people that call the city home.
Located in the north-east of the capital, the London Borough of Waltham Forest consists of five main areas: Leyton, Leytonstone, Chingford, Higham’s Park and Walthamstow. It has a rich cultural heritage, as influential film director Alfred Hitchcock, musician Damon Albarn, contemporary artist Grayson Perry and textile artist William Morris all have close ties to the area. The origins of the iconic red Routemaster London buses can also be traced back to Walthamstow and the Associated Equipment Company based there, while Concorde designer Sir George Edwards grew up in Higham’s Park.
Across the Borough, residents, artists and creatives are collaborating to host events and spread messages around a key theme of Radicals, Makers and Fellowship. Proceedings got underway with an awe-inspiring 3-night festival of music, dance and street theatre in mid-January titled Welcome to the Forest, and there are plenty more events to come…
Africa Express: The Circus
Up to 100 artists from across Africa, Europe and Britain will join forces to create an exciting five-hour show in Leytonstone that celebrates diversity through music. Africa Express works to promote unity and collaboration while raising the profile of African music and culture.
When? 29 March (event currently sold out)
The Blackhorse Workshop, renowned for being a centre for wood and metal working, is transforming a disused school building into a ghost factory that will detail Waltham Forest’s rich history of metalworking and manufacturing. Working in collaboration with acclaimed visual performance artist Abigail Conway, Atomic 50: Time Travels in Tin will take young visitors on an immersive journey by radically reimagining the typical learning experience.
When? 1-30 April
Chingford May Day Fayre
Mark May Day with a celebration of the modern bicycle, designed by John Kemp Starley, who was born and raised in Walthamstow. The celebration of two-wheeled travel aims to see thousands of people forming a procession of bicycles through the urban woodlands to Chingford Plain, bordering Epping Forest.
When? 4 May
E17 Art Trail
Now in its 14th year, the E17 Art Trail was founded by Artillery, an arts development organisation focused on sharing artwork and creating neighbourhood projects and events. Taking place biennially across the Borough, a theme of Wonder for 2019 will see works from more than 7,500 artists, performers and residents placed in various different locations for visitors to view and interact with.
When? 1-16 June
Art Night embraces a different part of London every year to create a free contemporary art festival. In 2019, to coincide with Waltham Forest being named Borough of Culture, the event will celebrate the distinct identity, culture and architecture of the region by bringing Walthamstow High Street – Europe’s longest outdoor market – to life out-of-hours through a series of exciting art commissions.
When? 22 June
Leytonstone Loves Film
Developed with the assistance of Barbican, in partnership with local residents and businesses, Leytonstone Loves Film will celebrate the region’s rich cinema history. As the birthplace of Hitchcock, the festival aims to inspire a new generation of film makers by screening local and international work, music and talks, while film-inspired workshops and activities will provide further entertainment.
When? 27-29 September
From Page to Pavement
Taking inspiration from Waltham-Forest-based artist-illustrator Benji Davies’ award-winning book, Grandad’s Island, From Page to Pavement will encourage thousands of residents to help animate spaces across the borough. With support from Artillery, the project wants to drive collaboration to help create intriguing and imaginative spaces.
When? October (dates to be confirmed)
Venture into Epping Forest to enjoy a theatrical concert where the branches of giant oak trees take centre stage. Sung from the canopies of mature trees, GIANT will see children performing poetry and music, and forms part of efforts from Arts and Gardens to connect children and adults alike with the great outdoors.
When? 18-19 October
Molecules on the Marshes
Internationally recognised local artist Zarah Hussain is set to illuminate the marshes by creating water molecules from recycled plastic and LED lights. Walk through the ever changing colours of the Molecules on the Marshes installation and explore the links that humans have with water and the natural world as part of a work that links science and spirituality.
When? October/November (dates to be confirmed)
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