Where: At various venues throughout Bloomsbury with the festival hub in Russell Square
What is it?
Taking place from 15th – 20th October, Bloomsbury Festival returns with an eclectic programme of events and happenings across London’s foremost cultural quarter. Synonymous with the arts and innovation for centuries, this area of the capital will flourish as its beautiful spaces host music, dance, storytelling, exhibits, walks and workshops in its biggest programme to date with 200 events, all completely free.
Themed on vitality, the 2013 programme is inclusive of the entire spectrum of the arts; from a master class in musicals with Tim Rice, to stars of the classical music scene performing in an old working dairy.
The end of the week will see the programme extended further with a haven of events for children and families as Russell Square is transformed in an interactive weekend hub for the festival. A wander through this sprawling garden square will lead to encounters with performances by world-class musicians on the SOAS World Music Stage and pop-up contemporary dance flash-mobs and workshops. There will be opportunities to add to the arbour’s expanding bloom of handmade paper flowers as part of October Gallery’s The Flower Press Project. Not to mention installations by Wellcome Collection and many arts and crafts workshops.
With over 100 venues across the diverse neighbourhood utilised, Londoners will have the opportunity to explore the plethora of museums, gardens, libraries and interact with the unique heritage and hidden history. Venues include the newly opened 12,500 sq ft Dairy Art Centre. The centre will host the festival’s atmospheric series of grand piano concerts as well as an exhibition featuring the likes of Ai Wei Wei and Cindy Sherman, centred on Aldous Huxley’s 1962 novel Island, a book deeply connected with Bloomsbury. Spaces returning to the festival include October Gallery, Senate House, Foundling Museum, the Cartoon Museum as well as the numerous garden squares.
Don’t miss the following festival highlights:
Will Self: The Madness of the Modern City (Literature)
Drawing upon Bloomsbury’s history as a crucible of modernism, acclaimed author, Will Self, in conversation with Dr Nick Shepley (UCL), explores the links between modern urban life and mental health, and reads from his Booker-prize shortlisted novel Umbrella.
Poets in the Library: Sir Andrew Motion in Conversation with Mark Ford (Literature)
In the Goldsmiths’ Reading Room, Senate House Library, these world-leading poets will discuss libraries as spaces of inspiration and enchantment in their work. Sir Andrew will also read from his acclaimed collection, The Customs House.
Dairy Art Centre – ‘Island’ Exhibition (Art)
A group exhibition organised as a novel, Island includes more than thirty artists. This show renders homage to Aldous Huxley’s novel of the same name as well as much of the literature around the possibilities for new social experiments.
Mark Wallinger (Art/Talks)
Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger and other leading art critics explore public art and its impact on social change as part of his new Art on the Underground commission Labyrinth.
Ministry of Movement (Dance)
Wellcome Collection and the Place collaborate to host a pop-up ministry of contemporary dance, workshops and performances throughout the weekend.
Tim Rice Masterclass (Talks)
Internationally acclaimed British lyricist and author gives an exclusive master class on making musicals in the lead up to the opening of his new production from Here to Eternity at Shaftsbury Theatre. Learn how Tim writes academy award-winning songs and works with the greatest names in film, music and theatre.
Dairy Art Centre Grand Piano concert series (Music)
Rising stars in classical music will light up secret spaces with exclusive performances. This will include a special grand piano concert series at the Dairy Art Centre, one of London’s hottest new contemporary galleries featuring prize-winning young pianists Jessica Zhu, John Paul Muir, Katharina Thoeni and Kristiina Rokashevich.
Ministry of Communication Orwellian Garden (Art)
In the shadow of the University of London’s Senate House, artist Alex Beeching will lay out an ‘Orwellian’ 1940s office reclaimed by leaf, tendril and flower in Senate House. With moss-covered desks, typewriters bursting with Sedums, and massed ranks of planted shoes, Senate House will never look the same again.
Small Global: Extreme Energy (Art)
Honouring Bloomsbury’s history as a place of radicalism and reform, this installation raises awareness of ecological issues surrounding oil extraction and shale-gas fracking. Supported by Arts Council England, audio-visual pioneers D-Fuse and academics from the School of Advanced Study have created an innovative exploration of the ‘extreme energy’ process, and the consumption that drives it. In the basements of Senate House, a world of light and sound will bring to life some of the most pressing ecological issues facing the country, and the world, today.
Figaro in One Night (Opera)
Bloomsbury Opera and Goodenough College present an unmissable concert performance that weaves together the best moments from two operatic masterpieces; Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Exceptional young conductor Dane Lam will be guest conductor for the concert.
Story of a Night pianist (Dance)
Story of a Night Pianist, taking place at the Dairy Art Centre, is a site-responsive interdisciplinary promenade performance telling the story of a lonely pianist visited by a strange presence in the night. The piece was first performed at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London by six professional dancers and 20 dancers-in-training, with live musical accompaniment on violin and piano.
More info: bloomsburyfestival.org.uk