Festival season is a truly electric time to be in London; and it’s no wonder that crowds in their thousands pour out into the parks for some sh*t hot DJ sets with a side of lukewarm lager.
And, while naysayers might hold the view that festival season winds down after the bank holiday weekend, as October looms, we vehemently disagree. Waterworks Festival, since its arrival to Gunnersbury Park in 2021, has provided a chance to soak up the last of the September sun and head out for a final dance before it becomes too icy for outdoor events (not that it’s showing signs of cooling down just yet). Thankfully, in 2023 the festival showed no signs of letting up in their third outing, with its biggest lineup yet delivering the goods.
Our visit to Waterworks Festival 2023
As an attendee of each Waterworks festival, it’s safe to say it’s gotten one thing right: picking the day. All three iterations of the event have been sunny and dry days in September, with this year’s toasty 25-degree peak making it, perhaps, the pick of the bunch in the leafy Gunnersbury Park.
But, while being a handy enhancer, the sunshine can only take you so far – from this point on its about the platform the festival gives for each attendee to comfortably enjoy the quality of acts on display. 15,000 people make up the crowd, and there are seven stages to bounce in between. Whether it’s Water Tower, the circular booth in the middle of the field; the more intimate tent setting of Hi-Hat and Commune; or Siren, a vibrating cauldron tucked away in the corner of a forest; the spaces never feel overcrowded, which is a testament to the meticulous layout and diverse lineup, which is credit to the promoters.
It’s evidently not oversold, either—something which can’t be said of all the day events in London this summer, which have seen some, quite frankly, ludicrous queues for bars (if you see anyone emerging from the bar holding as many pints as they can carry, it might be ominous), toilets, and water fountains. There’s none of that at Waterworks, with queues at the sellout event never reaching anything near breaking point, which adds to the relaxed and stress-free nature of the event.
Anyway, onto the music. Waterworks provided a meld of the scene’s most established artists alongside some exciting up-and-coming names in house and techno circles. Yes, many flocked down to see acclaimed acts; from Eliza Rose to Shanti Celeste to Palms Trax to HAAi; but earlier sets coming from the likes of Louise Chen, Heléna Star and Softi also thrilled the masses in the buildup. Plus, fans of other genres weren’t disappointed, with legendary MC Flowdan and grime duo Elijah & Skilliam taking to the Siren stage.
And it was Flowdan who stole the show at Siren, primed for the stage in a mid-afternoon slot and blaring out his trademark lines over heavy basslines, before welcoming legendary producer Skream to the stage afterwards for a spinning secret set as day turned to dusk.
Eliza Rose was at her typical best, providing hip-swinging beats to a lively crowd over at the festival’s centrepiece, the Water Tower, and carried us through to the nighttime slot. We jumped over to the Pressure stage to check out Blawan before catching the end of Anz at Hi-Hat. Both acts were worthy closers for the festival and capped another successful year for Waterworks in Gunnersbury Park.
Three well-thought-out and lively events prove that the Waterworks bug is no fluke; with the festival well on its way to becoming one of the most reliably exuberant days out in the summer calendar.
The best shots of Waterworks 2023
Click here to view the Waterworks website and register your interest for their 2024 event.