When: 18th – 22nd October 2017
Where: Around Bloomsbury, central London
£: Most events are free. Prices for ticketed events vary
What is it?
Bloomsbury Festival 2017 will take place from Wednesday 18th to Sunday 22nd October, with a trailblazing programme of science, literature, performance, music, poetry, theatre, dance, discussion and reflection; shining a light on the radical imaginations, institutions and 11,000 residents of contemporary Bloomsbury.
Taking place everywhere, from cultural centres and major institutions like Conway Hall and University College London, to quirky indoor and outdoor spaces, more than 150 events will pop-up across the lively cultural quarter.
This year’s Festival’s theme is Independence, a wide-ranging theme pertinent to Bloomsbury’s community; independent business and publishing, independent living and vitality, social, political, scientific and technical independence will be all be explored. 2017 also observes independence related anniversaries, the 70th anniversary of The Indian Independence Act, one-hundred years since the Russian Revolution and fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, each of which features in this year’s programme.
Highlights of this year’s festival will include:
Urban Turban: A Walk Through an Album – Cornershop
Enjoy Cornershop’s album of multiple collaborations as a physical experience, hear the sounds, discover the stories behind each song and delve into the band’s colourful history. 18th – 22nd October, all day, at starting at Senate House, Malet Street, WC1E 7HU. Free, just turn up.
101st km: Further and Everywhere – Alexander Brodsky
To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, a pavilion conceived by Russian artist and architect Alexander Brodsky, Pushkin House and curator Markus Lähteenmäki, brings art and poetry to Bloomsbury Square Gardens. Hung inside with poetry by 20 Russian poets, such as Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelshtam and Joseph Brodsky, who went through different types of exile, the pavilion takes its name from the distance that individuals returning from the Gulag in the former Soviet Union had to maintain from major cities. The pavilion together with an accompanying display inside Pushkin House and a series of events, invites visitors to engage with questions of creativity in exile, displacement, longing and belonging. 19th – 22nd October, 11am – dusk. Free,just turn up.
A Rangoli for Bloomsbury
Renowned artist and World Record holder (for the World’s largest Rangoli), Dr Seema Anand will lead the creation of a Rangoli for Bloomsbury. Students from SOAS, children from Bloomsbury based primary schools and their families will inspire and help make a spectacular decoration celebrating Diwali. The Rangoli will be launched on the Thursday with an intergenerational Bollywood dance project from celebrated Akademi Dance and Young Camden Foundation. 18th – 21 October, all day, at Senate House Exhibition, Malet Street, WC1E 7HU. Free, just turn up.
Objects in Time – Three Girls
This piece aims to open up the lives of people living with dementia to the greater community. Experience the three Objects in Time installations, step outside of your own world and into another’s, using only sound and touch to learn about three local Bloomsbury characters. Enjoy each story and immerse yourself fully in the unknown. On throughout the Festival, popping up at various locations, including Saturday at the Being Independent Festival Hub at UCL. Free, just turn up.
Les Sapeuses – Lady Dandies of the DRC
This exhibition documents the life and style of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ‘lady dandies’ subculture, through exhibits of textile accessories and the reportage photography of Kinshasa-based photographer, Junior D. Kannah. 18th – 22nd October, at Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG
The Secret Diary of Bloomsbury – Elizabeth Dearnley and Michael Eades
Everyone has a secret, what’s yours? Pick up a map (from participating venues or our website), track down diaries hidden in bookshops, cafés and leafy squares, and add your own stories. 18th – 22nd October, all day. Free, just turn up.
Ten Bloomsbury Trailblazers – Paul Guest
This walk features ten amazingly independent pioneers, linked with Bloomsbury between 1741 and 1977. Between them they worked in nine fields ranging from literature to surgery. Start at Russell Square Tube Station. 18th, 21st and 22nd. Free but pre-booking is recommended.
The Story of Peter Pan and Brunswick Square – Professor Rosemary Ashton for Friends of Brunswick Square
Revealing the hidden story of how J.M. Barrie set Peter Pan in Brunswick Square, where he had once lived. 18th October at UCL School of Pharmacy, Brunswick Square. Tickets cost £12 and include a glass of wine.
Street Art and Urban Culture Youth Tour – Underground Camden Tours
Meet at King’s Cross Station, outside the Harry Potter Store at 12 noon on 19th October. Free, but pre-booking is recommended.
Independent Women: Courtesans and Prostitutes in the Georgian Era – Hallie Rubenhold
Historian Hallie Rubenhold explores the stories of Georgian women of all classes who became courtesans or prostitutes – and the surprising independence this could offer them. 21st October at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, at 3pm. Tickets cost £5, plus museum admission.
How To Be A Craftivist: Talk and Activities – Sarah Corbett
Learn from the award-winning craftivist Sarah Corbett, the art of ‘gentle protest’ using handicrafts. She will be giving a talk, Q&A and then hands-on craftivism activities for you to try yourself. 21st Ocotber at The Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, WC1N 3AT, at 7pm. Tickets cost £8.
The Funoon Salon provides an intimate setting for audiences to engage with the histories and contexts behind South Asian art and culture. Expect music that transcends boundaries, poetry that is revolutionary, and street food that’ll have you licking the disposable plate clean. 22nd October at William Goodenough House, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, at 7pm. Tickets cost £25 and includes snacks.
The Frog Princess Punked by The Swamp Girls
Crazed Russian fairytale meets punk rock! Pioneering storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton and girl punk band The Swamp Girls create a hullabaloo of spoken word, electric guitar, demonic drums, poetic riffs, distorted sounds, dynamic performance storytelling, and riotous songs, set in a collage of live projections. 18th October at Bloomsbury Theatre Studio, 15 Gordon Street, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12.
Unfinished Business – Outside Edge Theatre
Unfinished Business tells a dark naturalistic story of addiction, intertwined with dreamlike fantasy and live singing. Followd by a Q&A. 20th October at Lumen, 88 Tavistock Place, at 6.30pm. Tickets cost £5.
Bren Gosling’s award-winning flash stories, performed by Peter Kenny and Jean Woollard with dancer Catriona Maccoll, and jazz by Alice Mary J. With poetry by Keith Jarett. 20th October at William Goodenough House, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, at 8.30pm. Tickets cost £8.
A clear-eyed, compassionate account of the clearing of the Calais camp – performed by an actor seeing the text for the first time. 21st October at Bloomsbury Theatre Studio, 15 Gordon Street, at 8.30pm Tickets cost £8.
Raiders of the Lost Archive: Lost in Translation – Fire Hazard Games
A curatorial caper in the British Museum! With a live leaderboard, cryptic clues, surprise challenges and a roaming curator, you’ll have to think quickly to defeat teams of rival adventurers. 22nd October, starting at The Comedy Museum at 2pm. Tickets cost £20.
Sing Out Store Street!
A Night-time Street Party with a Twist. Bloomsbury Festival takes over Store Street to throw a free spectacular street party, launching a thrilling weekend of Festival activities. Independent local shops, cafes and businesses open their doors to reveal an array of delights, dancers, poets, writers and actors. Make a night of it, enjoy pop-up speakeasy bars, world street food, and dance the night away. 20th October at Store Street, 6pm – 9.30pm. Free, just turn up.
The No Panic Book Of Not Panicking
Apples and Snakes with No Panic (Sutton & Merton) present an afternoon of stories and poems, exploring the personal experiences of panic, anxiety and facing our fears to live a braver life. Supported by Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, on 21st October. Free, just turn up.
Big Teeth – Elizabeth Dearnley
Climb into this bedtime story with a bite. Combining Red Riding Hood, 40s radio and recorded sound, this immersive installation spins a familiar tale into an uneasily intimate storytelling experience. on 21st and 22nd October at Treadwell’s Bookshop, 33 Store Street.
More info: bloomsburyfestival.org.uk