Big things are coming to Waltham Forest in 2019.
Back in February, Waltham Forest outdueled 21 other boroughs to be crowned London’s first Borough of Culture. They promised music, light shows, artiness, and a film festival – although we like to think that the support of treasured partner Secret London edged them to victory! Now, the most cultured borough in the capital have unveiled their grand plans for 2019, drawing on some of the borough’s brightest talents to create a stellar programme.
Kicking off the borough’s triumphant year is Welcome to the Forest (January 11-13), which is billed as a “visually spectacular assault on the senses”. Waltham Forest Town Hall will be illuminated with a striking audio-visual display, telling the story of the borough. It’s the result of a creative partnership between Mercury Award-winning musician Talvin Singh, digital artists Greenaway and Greenaway, and local students at Leyton Sixth Form College. Meanwhile, Walthamstow’s Forest Road will be transformed into a neon-drenched winter carnival (we expect God’s Own Junkyard to feature somewhere), and a huge lighting installation called Nest will transform Lloyd Park, accompanied by an ethereal soundscape.
Make no mistake, there are some big names involved. Sir Matthew Bourne, the noted director, choreographer, and Walthamstow native, will lead his New Adventures company to the borough, leading the first in a series of artist residences designed to inspire young people. Former Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn (a son of Leytonstone) will bring his Africa Express group and musicians from across the world together for a five-day festival (March 25-29th), culminating in a massive headline show on the 29th.
On May 6th, Chingford’s traditional May Day Fayre gets a modern-day makeover, featuring amongst other things, a huge bike procession to celebrate the inventor of the modern bicycle, John Kemp Starley. In June, overnight art festival Art Night will set up in Walthamstow Market, in conjunction with the E17 Art Trail. Later in the summer, legendary London cabaret collective Duckie will put on a riotous tribute to Fanny Cradock – featuring drag queens, dance performances, and a live version of Ready Steady Cook refereed by Night Czar Amy Lamé (because why the hell not?).
Things don’t slow down in autumn, oh no. Epping Forest plays host to a family theatre performance inspired by Oscar Wilde and poet John Clare in September, whilst things take a turn for the arty in October. Visual artist Zarah Hussain will bring Molecules on the Marshes – a series of 50,000 illuminated water molecules – to the wilds of Walthamstow, and an art exhibition exploring William Morris and the Bauhaus movement will head to the William Morris Gallery.
Whew, that’s a helluva lot of culture! You ready for it, London?