Visitors can join a night-time street party, a 1969 tea dance and a moon walk as central London’s annual festival of arts, culture and science takes place.
Inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, the 2019 Bloomsbury Festival will have a theme of Small Steps and Giant Leaps.
On 20th July 1969, a lone figure made a muffled pronouncement “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Neil Armstrong was that man, but behind him were more than 400,000 NASA engineers, scientists and technicians. A hotbed of creative development, Bloomsbury is filled with pioneers of all types, and this year’s festival will shine a light on some of their amazing developments alongside Bloomsbury’s own unique homage to the Moon.
This year’s festival will kick off with two arty street parties, both with a distinct moon theme. Moonlight on Store Street is a night-time street Party with a twist! Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon will transform central London’s Store Street into a moonlit stage to celebrate all things lunar. Listen to moon inspired music from the Store Street House Band, watch or join in Tango, Bollywood or Line Dancing, enjoy a new dance commission from Subathra Subramanian, or pop into Store Street’s independent shops, cafes and businesses to encounter magical moon inspired performances and activities. Plus, there will be bars and street food all evening.
Expect another creative street party on Sunday, as Cromer Street Welcomes the Moon celebrates the installation of Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon in Holy Cross Church. The party promises some of the best local talent on the traffic-free street, including captivating Bengali music and the unveiling of a mural by renowned aerosol artist Mohammed Ali, as well as a host of pop-up events on the street and in Cromer Street’s shops.
Jerram’s Moon will remain inside the church for the rest of the festival and there will be performances and activities over the ten days, including the Under the Moon Hub on Saturday 19th October.
The hub will see arts and science collide for a creative day of workshops, exhibitions, talks and performances exploring all things lunar. Featuring real moon rocks from the Royal Astronomical Society, VR star explosions from UCL’s Astrophysicist students, a storytelling den with Sir John Soanes Museum, origami stars, rockets and moons with SOAS Origami Society, and art and stories suitable for children with autism and social communication difficulties with HCA.
The most exciting emerging talent coming out of Bloomsbury’s world-famous local institutions will be showcased through the New Wave programme.
As part of this programme, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL student Louis Bennett will be creating a brand-new exhibition inside Senate House, informed by British history and politics. Inspired by the festival theme and the history and architecture of Bloomsbury, Bennett seeks to collapse different eras of British history into a single image. The exhibition will be open from Friday 11th to Saturday 19th October, except Sundays.
Also part of the New Wave programme will be lunchtime concerts in a private music room right opposite Great Ormond Street Hospital, with performances from Guangmei Chen, Hannah Crerar, Music for Youth, Orix Duo, Xiaowen Shang, Zhu Sun, Tara Viscardi.
New Wave Theatre at the Bloomsbury Theatre & Studio from RADA graduates will include an exploration of radiation in Yellow Cake by Why Theatre; and Bits and Bobs, a hard-hitting play about the aftermath of suicide.
Celebrating the artistic process, from the glint of an idea to completion, Imagining Mountains is a film installation, illuminated sculptures and audio works by Richard Sharples and poet Joanna Clark. Catch it at St George’s Gardens from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th October, 7pm – 9pm (free, just turn up).
On Sunday 20th October, Small Steps – Big Ideas at the Conway Hall Hub, will feature rousing talks, vital debates and thought-provoking exhibitions with some of the boldest and bravest voices around.
Walks and talks at the festival will include Small Steps around St Giles, exploring this notorious and ancient corner of London whilst taking in the giant leaps of the Crossrail project. Modest Beginnings, Proud Achievements will explore south Bloomsbury, featuring ten individuals and institutions notable for impressive progress. Visitors can also accompany Rob Self-Pierson for the Bloomsbury Moonwalk as he tells tales of his 2009 walk around Great Britain by the light of the full moon in an attempt to mend his broken heart.
Ending the festival in style, the Hello Moon! 1969 Tea Dance will take place in the newly refurbished Kimpton Fitzroy London’s Ballroom. Party like it’s 1969 and put on your glad rags to join Dorothy’s Shoes for tea, cake, a tipple or two and a good old dance. All ages and abilities welcome, with or without a dance partner.
When: 11th – 20th October 2019
Where: Bloomsbury, central London
£: Many events are free
More info: bloomsburyfestival.org.uk