Twenty Twelve is finally here and boy, is London ready for it! Katie Grange looks forward to some highlights coming the capital's way this year.
Not only have we got the honour of hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games, but we also have all the exciting London events that come with it. From arts to music to theatre, you can bet that London will be an electrifying place to be come July.
However 2012 is not all about the Olympics. There’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June to look forward to, and we all know how good a Royal knees-up can be. There are also festivals galore taking place in the city, namely Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, Lovebox and SW4, with the addition of the Radio 1 weekend in Hackney Marshes.
There is of course also the vibrant Notting Hill Carnival to get excited about, along with a huge open-air Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert at the stately Knebworth Park.
Finally the summer will culminate with the artistic Mayor of London’s Thames Festival, a celebration of culture, community and of course London.
So although the January blues may be getting us down already, there is so much to look forward to in the next 12 months. We have a feeling this is going to be a good year…
London Fashion Week
A staple in the London events calendar is the illustrious London Fashion Week, taking place twice a year and showcasing the best in UK fashion and style. Whether trends and cuts are your thing or not, one can’t deny that the city comes alive when LFW is in town. As well as the shows and parties themselves, many other happenings are taking place around the city for all to enjoy. For instance, as soon as the last model steps off the catwalk Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend begins and Somerset House is transformed into a unique 4-day designer shopping emporium. Fashionistas can treat themselves to the latest looks at high street prices, get a complete makeover from the professionals at Toni & Guy, or even experience their own fashion show in the original space. LFW is an excellent way to start off the year in style. LFW, Somerset House. 17th-21st February. Vodafone Fashion Weekend, 23rd-26th February. Tickets £15-£125.
Now in its 5th year, Field Day is brought to you by a collective of successful promoters with one aim; to bring the world’s most contemporary and pioneering electronic music artists together in East London. 2011’s event saw the who’s who of the dance scene take to the stage, including Carl Craig, Erol Alkan and James Blake to name a few. This year promises to be louder and prouder, with acts such as Maya Jane Coles, Franz Ferdinand and Hudson Mohawke already confirmed to rock the Victoria Park location. See you on the dancefloor. Field Day, Victoria Park. 2nd June. Early Bird Tickets £39.50. More Field Day details here.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
To mark 60 years of reign, Queen Elizabeth will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year, meaning another extended bank holiday weekend for us, wahey! Following the success of the Big Lunches over the past three years, The Big Jubilee Lunch will be part of the main programme encouraging people to bring communities together through food and fun. Alongside this will be the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant led by the Queen herself and involving vessels of all shapes and sizes to make one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river. Topped off by a concert at Buckingham Palace and a whole host of other London events, Royalist or not, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is guaranteed to be a highlight of 2012. Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend 2nd-4th June, 2012. Celebrations taking place across various venues in London & the UK – Various prices.
If you didn’t get tickets for the Games then fret not, as the Cultural Olympiad (the largest celebration in the history of the modern Olympics and Paralympics don’t you know), has designed a programme to get everyone involved one way or another. Over the next six months expect a host of events to take place in the capital, culminating with the London 2012 Festival from 21st June – 9th September. Bringing together artists from all over the world, the festival will celebrate the culture of the games through dance, music, theatre, visual arts, and digital innovation, leaving a lasting legacy to spectators the world over. A particular highlight is Globe to Globe, a performance of 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages at the infamous Globe theatre on the Thames. London 2012 Festival, 21st June - 9th September - Various prices. Globe to Globe, 21st April - 9th June -Tickets £5-£35.
Radio 1 at Hackney Marshes
Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend is billed as one of the main events of the London 2012 Festival, headlined by the likes of Florence & The Machine, Tinie Tempah, and Leona Lewis, with more to be announced. Taking place on Hackney Marshes the London event will feature six BBC stages with 100,000 people able to attend, making it the largest free ticketed live music event ever. As it replaces the usual Radio 1 Big Weekend this year, many of the tickets will be allocated to Hackney residents and surrounding boroughs. A special focus will also be placed upon the talent of young East Londoners both in the run up to and at the event itself. Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, Hackney Marshes. Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th June, Free event.
Red Hot Chilli Peppers @ Knebworth
Last year Californian fun-rockers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers announced two huge open-air shows at Knebworth Park and the Sunderland Stadium of Light, both to be their only UK appearances in 2012. It will be the first huge concert to be held at Knebworth Park since Robbie Williams’ record-breaking 3-night show in 2003. Back with a fresh new album and even fresher guitarist, the Californication singers will no doubt delight fans new and old with their sensational live show at this iconic venue. RHCP, Knebworth Park. 23rd June. Tickets approx. £50.
With Rihanna, Jessie J, and Labrinth already confirmed as headline acts for this year’s Barclaycard Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, things are already looking sensational for one of London’s most iconic festivals. With over 140,000 people expected through the gates, Barclaycard Wireless offers a chance for London revellers to witness popular music right in the heart of the bustling city. Many more acts are set to be unveiled this year so keep updated with Skiddle for all Wireless news and of course tickets. Barclaycard Wireless Festival, Hyde Park. Sunday 8th July. Buy Wireless tickets
Taking place in Victoria Park Lovebox in the pinnacle of city festivals, and each year it attracts a sell-out crowd to create an electrifying and stylish atmosphere. Hosting over 10 arenas and stages and entertaining over 65,000 people in this picturesque setting, Lovebox succeeds in transporting you to a hedonistic wonderland filled with genre hopping and subversion. Although this year’s acts haven’t been confirmed as of yet, if last year is anything to go by which saw Snoop Dogg, Blondie, and Groove Armada take to the stage, then we are guaranteed not to be disappointed. Lovebox Festival, Victoria Park. 15th-17th July. Tickets £29-£99. More Lovebox details here.
Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the summer is the Film 4 and American Express open air theatre at Somerset House, complete with state-of-the-art screens and full surround sound, DJs, and special BAFTA nights. Showing everything from cult action thrillers such as Die Hard to romantic comedies and all-time classics like Thelma & Louise, Film4 Summer Screen is a lovely alternative way to spend your summer evenings. Film 4 Summer Screen, Somerset House. 27th July-7th August. Various prices.
Notting Hill Carnival
The Notting Hill Carnival is as much ingrained into London culture as pizza is to Italy, and it’s back for its 48th year promising to be bigger and better than ever. Boasting a melting pot of vivid and diverse cultures, the festival features live Masquerade bands, soundsystems, street food, dancing and much more. As thousands of people take to the streets of West London the vibrant history of the Caribbean culture is rejoiced in one of the UK’s largest street events. Notting Hill Carnival, 26th & 27th August. Free event.
South West Four Festival
Bagging ‘Best British Festival’ at the DJ Mag Awards is some achievement, so it was only natural that we included one of London’s premier inner city music festivals in our top picks. Championing all things dance, from techno to electro to drum & bass, previous South West Four headliners include Underworld, Pendulum and Sven Vath, with two major acts promised to top this year’s event. Being located on Clapham Common can sometimes mean sound levels aren’t up to expectations, however with the recent announcement that Lambeth Council is currently reviewing the noise policy for the first time in nine years, things can only get better! SW4, Clapham Common. 25th & 26th August, Bank Holiday Weekend. Tickets £45-£85. More SW4 details here
The Mayor’s Thames Festival
The Mayor’s Thames festival is London’s free end of summer festival and is designed to bring together communities to celebrate the city and the Thames itself. The festival commissions new work from artists all over the capital and transforms the space around the river with a mixture of music, dancing, street arts, river races, carnival, food and much much more. The finale is a night carnival that weaves its way throughout the banks of the Thames concluding with a magnificent fireworks display. Generating an unrivalled feel-good-factor and a general buzz around the city, this festival is the perfect way to end an action-packed summer. The Mayor’s Thames Festival, various locations along the river. 8th & 9th September. Free Event.
Find more 2012 London events and festivals in our London what's on guide