A London summer festival lasagne, with layers of sheep shearing, glitter beards and a house music gospel choir

This Life Recipe shows how you can make the most of some of London’s (often free) events over the summer festival season.

Ingredients
1 x Entrance to Lambeth Country Show (free)
1 x Ticket to Citadel Festival (£55)
Total: £55

 Summer is finally here, and I’ve been making the most of what I think are the best months in London by checking out some of its free festivals, as well as the spectacular Citadel Festival in Victoria Park. Here’s my write up from last weekend…

Lambeth Country Show – Saturday 15 July 2017

This was my first time at The Lambeth Country Show, and it ended up being a very different day to what I had expected. Yes there were sheep dog and owl displays, horticultural shows, a petting zone and a weird and wonderful homegrown vegetable competition – but being a country show in Brixton, it certainly had its own unique south-London vibe.

First of all, it’s massive. With over 170,000 people attending over the two days (which is more than the attendance of Glastonbury!), there’s a huge festival buzz as you enter Brixton.

Secondly, a few minutes after entering Brockwell Park you can already hear an eclectic range of music from reggae to folk (there was even a David Bowie tribute band) and see the usual hoards of festivalgoers with glitter on their faces (and beards!). But what’s a little different from your usual festival is that people are drinking scrumpy Devon cider from giant milk bottles, eating top-quality farmers’ market food and taking a break from the live music to pet alpacas or watch a sheep sheering show.

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This rather surreal, but extremely fun show is a great way to spend an inexpensive weekend. You’re also allowed to bring your own food and drink (as long as it’s not in a glass bottle), if you’re wanting to save even more – but I’d recommend trying the authentic cider and tasty food on offer at the show to really get into the swing of things.

Veg

Citadel Festival – Sunday 16 July 2017

This was also my first time at Citadel Festival in Victoria Park. The festival’s been going on for three years now, but I hadn’t thought about going until this year when my girlfriend bought me a ticket for my birthday – mostly because Bonobo (one of my all time favourite artists) was playing, but also because it boasted to have a very different festival vibe that she knew we’d enjoy.

Positioned as “London’s brightest new festival”, the event combines their top musical lineup (including Foals, Bonobo, Laura Marling and Wild Beasts) with a world of wonderful experiences ranging from science classes to comedy shows, fashion boutiques, yoga lessons and street performances.

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After arriving at lunchtime with a sea of trendy festival goers (this time with even more glitter beards), I quickly realised that this was my kind of festival. With an over 18s rule, quality food and drinks stands (think prosecco pop ups, Pimm’s buses and soft-shell crab shacks) and yoga/science/wellbeing classes, this is a completely different world from the rowdy and dirty teenage fueled festivals that I’ve been to growing up.

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A definite highlight was exploring the vast festival site in-between our favourite acts to take part in the fun little extras that have been organised throughout the day. A 40 minute chemistry class packed with explosions, fires and foaming test tubes took me back to the best bits from school and an active outdoor yoga session with House of Voga was a welcome workout in-between drinks, food and music.

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Bonobo was, of course, my musical highlight and one of the only acts that we saw on the main stage. Reinventing a range of his classics as well as songs off his new album for a live show, the beautifully orchestrated performance (with singers, strings, brass, drums, keys, electronics and a lot of bass) got the enormous crowd going as the sun set over the festival.

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The other two top musical moments happened completely by chance as we stumbled across an incredibly energetic reggae band called Kioko, who got the whole crowd jumping, skanking and cheering throughout their set in the park’s bandstand, and a bizarre but brilliant gospel choir who got everyone up and dancing to their original take on classic dance, house, garage and drum and bass songs.

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After spending over ten hours of dancing, eating, drinking, yogaing and exploring Citadel’s utopian festival world, I was ready for a good wash and a sleep. The perfect end to a London festival (I’m not sure I could have crawled into a hot, smelly tent without having a proper shower like I used to when I was younger!).

If you enjoy the festival experience with great music, food and drink, but are looking for something a bit more chilled, unusual and, quite frankly, more fun, then make sure to get your tickets for next year’s Citadel Festival. I know I will.

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