Lifestyle Reporter: Any Everett
Check out the London Pleasure Gardens this summer, where you’ll be treated to live music, incredible food and kitsch attractions in a whole month of fun and frolics.
The regenerated waterside space aims to bring together the London community and beyond in a celebration of art, music and design.
The Paradise Gardens Festival on 30th June will kick off the venue’s programme of amazing summer events, and is not to be missed. The festival will be held in the garden’s stunning waterfront location and will host everything from world-class music artists and DJs to circus and promenade performances, film screenings, live art and family activities.
Music legends Alabama Three (Sopranos Theme), Musical Youth (Pass The Dutchie) and Dreadzone will be providing the soundtrack as guests try food from around the world, explore the vintage fairground and (hopefully!) soak up the sunshine. There’ll even be a Hokey Cokey world record attempt!
Simply turn up and enjoy yourself from 1pm onwards – you don’t even need tickets to get in. The closest train station is Pontoon Dock – have fun!
Between the 17th and 19th Centuries, Pleasure Gardens were communal spaces where people from all walks of life converged to listen to music, admire paintings, stroll, drink, flirt and immerse themselves in the culture that made their city great.
The London Pleasure Gardens are the brainchild of a group of creative individuals who decided that their talent for design should be used to re-create that same sense of community. Fabricated by the same group responsible for building the ephemeral world of Shang Ri-La at Glastonbury festival, a visit to the Pleasure Gardens is set to be an unforgettable gem in your summer calendar.
Debs Armstrong, the creative Director and co-producer of the Shangri-La area, said of the idea last year:
“The idea is to create a shimmering, twinkling ephemeral city more akin to the legendary city, rather than the one at Glastonbury. A mythical place that appears temporarily and then vanishes.
“It’s about bringing an otherworldly experience to London for a couple of years, one that will disappear again. A contrast to the grot, grime, and depression of everyday life, which was what the original Pleasure Gardens did.
“It will bring a total contrast to anything London has at present. We will be creating a ‘real festival’ feeling in London. A lovely space where you’re contained, where you can move around and explore, meet people, and be entertained. It will be completely designed for an immersive audience experience, that isn’t available in London at the moment. From the lights to the sofas, to the venues, to the gardens, it’s all tranpsorting the audience to another world.”
If you can’t make the opening party, join in the fun at the London Festival of Architecture on the 23rd and 24th June. Visitors are encouraged to wander amongst the creative follies and hanging gardens, taking in the atmosphere. You’ll experience sensory overload as you admire the awesome new benches, pews and structures on display, not to mention the beautiful pool.
Guests can enjoy a glass of champagne in The Oyster Grotto – a bar and oyster restaurant buried within the landscaping of London Pleasure Gardens. An underground tunnel appears through the foliage of the site, leading to a a hidden space, faded by time. Eat drink and be part of a secret as the lines between art and entertainment blur around you.
Visit the intriguing ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, an area where a series of transparent globes hover and twinkle in mid-air creating a haunting, floating museum. Each globe contains an artefact salvaged from the sites’ industrial past. Great if you’re in a contemplative kind of mood.
The park will feature ‘The Hub’ from Glastonbury Festival, with the outside built like a “shrunken and distorted Canary wharf”. There’s a Geodesic Dome venue that will host theatre, circus and comedy, a concert stage, floating restaurant & cocktail bar, landscaped walkways, cafes and bars, a pop up hotel, riverside terrace, and water-attractions – there’s even a floating cinema!
There will also be the wild meadows, that have been left for fifty years and covered in wild flowers, sweat peas, and blackberries. Debs Armstrong explains, “What that site gives you is a real journey from being inside a stark industrial city, to suddenly being in the country. There’s a real sense of travelling to different landscapes.”
For the more hardcore amongst you, Bloc Festival is worth your attention. Headlined by Snoop Dogg, Orbital, Squarepusher, Joker, Jamie Jones and Four Tet (to name a few) the two day round-the-clock digital music extravaganza will swing into action on Friday 6th July. Watch the video for an idea of just how epic it promises to be, with floating stages and mind-boggling lazer shows.
The Pleasure Gardens team won the mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s competition to find ‘meanwhile’ uses for prominent brownfield sites in the Olympic borough of Newham, and it’s easy to see why – their plans for the space are coming together beautifully, and we can’t wait to enjoy as many of the events as possible!
Follow The Pleasure Gardens on Twitter – @PleasureGardens for all the latest updates on the team’s incredible work.