Enjoy shows, art, walks and talks at this year’s Bloomsbury Festival in London. This year’s programme will have the usual mix of culture, science and history with neon sculptures, street feasts and happiness exhibitions filling the area.
Quirky events at Bloomsbury Festival
So, what can you see at Bloomsbury Festival 2021? Well, let’s start with the quirkier events that are happening this year! To start the entertainment, you can see a fiery spectacle of neon sculptures and light projections on Cromer Street on the 15th. This Lights, Banners, Tigers event will showcase and celebrate global arts and people. There’ll be Bengali silk banners on display, an immersive live video projection, and a fire and light marble run installation.
Following on from this, you can enjoy neon sculptures by Chila Kumari Singh Burman in the Community Garden each evening of the festival. Expect to see a brightly lit tiger and ice-cream van amongst other things. Also from the 15th to 23rd, head to the wonderful and quirky Grant Museum of Zoology to see the The Micrarium. It’s an exhibition of 2,300 microscope slides highlighting the diversity of species on our planet.
And if you like animals, then you might like to join a walk where you get to play detective. As you wander around Bloomsbury, you can spot animals hidden in the most unusual places and find out about the history of the area. The walk is for all ages to enjoy.
On 20th, there’ll be an immersive theatre experience at Holy Cross Church with Promised Land. Expect story, song and poetry from this digital piece. And if you can’t make the festival in person, this event is also available online.
Unusual walks and talks at the festival
And if it’s online events you’re interested in, you can take a virtual walk to discover an alternative Kings Cross and Bloomsbury with guide Chris Foster. Or if you fancy stretching your legs, there’s a guided walk on 21st that looks at muck and epidemics, shining a light on the people and places in the area that changed public health in the 19th century.
For something more sedate, watch a Magic Lantern Show with novelist Chloe Aridjis, the writer in residence at Swedenborg House. The event will use lantern slides from the society’s archive accompanied by Aridjis’ stories. Or see the world through the eyes of flies with the Big Eyes and Tiny Brains talk from Dr Vilaiwan Fernandes at Senate House on 23rd.
Art and exhibitions for seeing things differently
If you’ve been struggling of late, then a visit to the On Happiness exhibitions and events may be just the tonic you need. The Wellcome Collection will look at the connections between physical and mental health, and what makes a happy life. There’ll be multi-sensory art and historic artefacts that aim to help you reclaim your happiness.
And if you fancy browsing some colourful graphic art, then The New Man is a Process at SOAS Brunei Gallery is a good place to head. Not only does it have a collection of vibrant posters but it also shows us an interesting piece of Mozambique’s social history.
Theatre and shows to make you think
The festival programme also includes a good selection of theatre from new and inventive writers and producers. States of Mind is a contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis. It’s presented by Extant, the UK’s leading company of visually impaired artists. And it aims to overturn your expectations and challenge your assumptions.
There’s also anime-inspired physical theatre in Hold/Falling and a love story between friends in Ourselves at the RADA Studios. Whilst, the energetic and family-friendly shows The Weather Machine and Radio Neighbourhood will take place outdoors at Bamber Green.
A wealth of Bloomsbury history and culture to discover
If you’re looking to delve deeper into Bloomsbury’s history and culture then the festival is the place to do it. On the Trail of Aliens in 1930s Bloomsbury, No 12 Great Ormond Street and H is for Hostile Environment all take a different look at those who have sought asylum in our country and the political attitudes we hold.
Like intriguing talks? The What is Light series will offer rarely seen sides of Bloomsbury’s institutions, rapid-fire talks and a chance to learn about the enlightenment orchestra. Explore the myths and science behind our planet with music, projections and narration in One Paradise, One Humanity. And hear about the short-lived Rebel Art Centre in Blast! Finally, spend An Evening with Nobody to hear 17th and 18th century folk music mixed with contemporary music.
Want more festival ideas? Here’s where to head this autumn!
When: 15th – 24th October 2021
Where: In and around Bloomsbury, central London, and online
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event. Many events are free
More info: bloomsburyfestival.org.uk