Walthamstow Garden Party 2017

The Walthamstow Garden Party is now in its fourth year, though, if I’m being honest, I seem to have lost a year. I was sure this was its third outing, but no, apparently this is definitely the fourth. I know I’ve been to all of them, so I can only assume that there is some sort of memory related Bermuda Triangle type phenomenon at work in Lloyd park, something that has removed my recollection of attending one year. Although, I do vaguely remember finding a cider stall one Garden Party and drinking scrumpy served in plastic milk bottles, I suppose that could have played a small part in my memory loss? Either way, the garden party is back, and despite a wrapping of grey sky above E17, it’s as fantabulous as always.

We went along to the Garden Party on Saturday, which is yesterday if you are reading this post on Sunday, which means you can go and enjoy day two of the festival today. If you are reading this post after Sunday, soz, you’ve missed it, so make sure you go next year. I now feel like a presenter on Strictly Come Dancing telling viewers not vote if they are watching on catch up. Anyway, where was I, Saturday, that’s right, we went on Saturday, and I was convinced it was going to bucket down with rain. But, other than a few showers around midday, the weather stayed fine, and rain did not stop play.

There was a bit of a queue when we arrived just after 1pm, but it moved quickly and we were soon in the park. We stopped off at the E17 Designers tent which is on the front lawn, walked across fellowship island which is home to the community marquee, the appetite tent, and amongst others, shed homewares, our very own furniture up-cycling experts. By 2pm we’d had a mooch around the park, found and purchased a beer, and were installed in front of the circus rig at the news from nowhere stage waiting to be entertained, and that we were.

Walthamstow Youth Circus once again took to the air with their incredible aerial show, performed by some pretty talented kids. I was lucky enough to work in circus when I was much younger, much more flexible, and had a much lower beer content in blood stream. So I really enjoy watching the next generation enjoying circus skills as much as I did. I confess, my eyes got a little moist around the edges when I started thinking how amazing the performance must have felt for the young participants. This is such a big deal to the local youngsters taking part. If you aren’t reading this on catch-up, and you are going today two, make sure you go and watch the show. The kids are incredible, and they have some very talented guests joining them on stage.

Music is of course a massive part of the Garden Party, and you might find yourself bopping along to something new. I really enjoyed the set by Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang. From Sierra Leone, Janka has taken the tradition of Bubu music, and bought it bang up to date. I don’t know if Electric Tribal Dance is a music genre, but if it isn’t, it should be, as that’s what Janka plays. After Janka’s set, one of the Barbican Young Poets took to the stage, providing another reminder that this event is about more that having a dance and a beer in the park. The Garden Party gives arts and artists a space, and it gives lots of young people like the youth circus and the young poets, such an incredible opportunity.

Toots and the Maytals bought proceedings to a close on Saturday, and if you are attending on Sunday, the incredible Tinariwen are headlining the Barbican Music Stage. Sunday will also see more from the youth circus, young poets, drum works, and the Soho Theatre young play-writes. You can dance ’till you drop in the Glittering Plains dance tent, or find an unoccupied piece of grass and let the festival soundscape wash over you like an ocean wave. The fun begins at 12, and it won’t cost you a penny to get in.

Read more about the Garden Party here. And if you are going, look out for the fundraisers wearing Keep It Free t-shirts. Donate if you can, here’s why that money is important.

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