I get often messages about various festivals, events and pop-ups that are springing up around London to see if I will say something nice about them or add details to my events calendar.

Once I have navigated the (too often badly designed) website I am increasingly finding that a lot of these festivals are actually little more than a collection of existing events that were happening anyway.

Someone managed to persuade a corporate sponsor or two, a few councils and a national arts body of this that or the other to stump up some cash for an overblown website and festival newsletter – then sat back and watched as event organisers eagerly added their details to yet another website.

It was particularly noticeable with last year’s Story of London, which was really nothing more than a website collecting existing events, and the same seems to be happening to the Cultural Olympiad website for next year – which desperately needs a moderator to check the stuff people are adding to it.

I just trawled through yet another festival website that was pointed out to me at the weekend and that frustratingly had an events listing service that only put six “headlines” per page and resulted in 21 pages to wade through. After all that, I genuinely doubted more than a dozen of the 150+ events were unique to the event, and even then I wasn’t sure if they were arranged by the festival organisers.

Even the sponsor’s private art collection tour is not that unique as they do the same thing for other festivals they fund.


It strikes me that I should set up a festival of my own!

I have lots of events listed on here already, just copy/paste it into a new website, persuade some councils that it is art and cul’ure (innit), throw in some terrifically fashionable terms such as pop-up – and…

Voilà! Commence au festival!


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  1. gillian lawrence says:

    You are so right. Then there’s the ‘places must be booked’ so you run around gathering mates, emailing organisers’ interns who never answer, leaving phone messages for sharons and when eventually you sit in your precious place and ‘breathe’, it’s a shambly drop-in,drop-out event. Still you stay to put the chairs away as you still believe it was a community festival, and that you were important. The flyer-printing was more.

  2. TGP says:

    Excellent idea, Ian – have you an eye on any particular giant corporate sponsors for your ‘Festival’ – you could be coining it in…

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