Do you know your neighbours?
In a city as large as London, some of us wouldn’t know the people who live next door if they walked by us in the street.
Southbank Centre is hosting the Festival of Neighbourhood all summer long to celebrate the idea of community and connectedness at a local level in the city’s most famous and all-embracing public space.
Beanotown Comes to Life!
I was invited to the press launch today which started with breakfast in Beanotown, with Dennis the Menace!
This brilliant pop-up cafe/play area is a 75-year anniversary homage to the classic, subversive comic and is guaranteed to be a hit with families.
Beanotown features an art studio and reading area with cosy seating and beanbags, a mini ‘tree house’, a ping pong table (Table Dennis), nerf gun shooting ranges, a shop and a cafe with menu offering ‘fart attack’ (double beans on toast) among other delicacies.
The Southbank Centre describes Beanotown as a ‘town hall for children’, where kids can have open forums throughout the festival. It’s pure fun and I’ll be back soon with my own mini Dennis impersonators.
After breakfast, we heard a panel of speakers talk about what neighbourhood and this festival meant to them.
‘We’re trying to create an appetite for the idea that local is joyful,’ says Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre’s artistic director.
Then we were taken on a whizz-stop tour of the main festival sites. Everything about the Festival of Neighbourhood (like the Southbank Centre itself) is designed to delight and surprise or challenge your thinking — from the 42 flags asking questions about how we want to live, to the stunning murals by street artists including Phlegm, ROA, GREMS and Bread Collective.
The boys’ favourite climbing caves have been repainted by the kids who designed them. And you can’t miss the giant topiary structures of street sweepers, created in tribute to the people who cleaned up after the London riots.
Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms fountains, always a crowd-pleaser, will be opening soon as part of the festival. Also back this year is the ‘urban beach’, the huge sandpit that already had kids mucking about and adults walking around bare-toed.
Another amazing summer by the riverside. See you there, neighbour!
8 Festival Highlights
1. Southbank Centre becomes an urban garden with 9 allotments along Queen’s Walk, 35 fruit trees (to be relocated to various housing estates after the festival) and a forest glade on the Queen Elizabeth rooftop garden
2. Lambeth photographer Harry Jacobs’ incredible archive of the African Caribbean community over the last 60 years
3. Southbank Centre in Pelourinho, a one-day carnival celebrating the Southbank Centre’s ongoing relationship with artists and communities in Brazil (Jun 15)
4. Themed weekends celebrating Lambeth and Brixton (Jul 13-14), Deptford (Jul 27-28) and Vauxhall (Aug 10-11)
5. Urban Arts, exploring street sports BMX, parkour, skateboarding, street dance, basketball and graffiti (Aug 3-4)
6. Zoo Nation’s Groove on Down the Road, a youth theatre adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (Aug 10-31)
7. Grow Your Own Ideas? an art installation of 42 flags with questions that invite the public to sing their answers back, culminating in a group performance on the Grand Finale
8. South Banquet, a weekend of sharing food grown in the allotments along the Queen Elizabeth riverside walk (Aug 31-Sep 1)
Festival of Neighbourhood runs from Jun 1-Sep 8 at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube) and most events/activities are FREE.
Festival of Neighbourhood is also incorporating other Southbank Centre festivals including Meltdown with Yoko Ono, London Wonderground, Udderbelly and Real Food Festival.