Kensington and Chelsea Festival

Kensington and Chelsea Festival returns for the second year with indoor and outdoor events across the entire borough throughout July and August

  • 50+ shows across Kensington and Chelsea, from five UK Theatre Premieres to a Heliosphere spiralling above King’s Road, a pop-up circus in Jubilee Square to an illuminated art installation in a church and opera in the beautiful formal gardens and wilded woodlands of Holland Park
  • More than a third of events are either free or Pay What You Want with concessions available for all other shows
  • Funded by Kensington and Chelsea Council
WILD by Motionhouse

From Friday 1st July – Wednesday 31st August the second edition of the Kensington and Chelsea Festival will celebrate creativity and culture for everyone this summer, filling the borough with theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, family shows, participatory activities, talks, walks and public art pieces.

Programmed and run by Kensington and Chelsea council, the festival re-imagines the borough’s well-known and less-discovered places by showcasing exceptional emerging and established artists. The programme features over 50 events, participatory activities and installations, including creative experiments enabling audiences to witness artists bring new ideas to life.

From Duke of York’s Square in the east to Finborough Theatre in the west, Kensington Memorial Park in the north and World’s End Place in the south, the Festival will bring all corners of Kensington and Chelsea to life with its multi-disciplinary programme.

More than a third of the programming is either free or Pay What You Want and concession tickets are available for all shows presented in theatres and established venues.

Kensington and Chelsea Festival
The Dream Engine Heliosphere

Visitors to the Festival can experience a Heliosphere spiralling above them off King’s Road, ancient myths brought to life through clay and Indian dance outside The Chelsea Theatre, an illuminated art installation inside St John the Baptist Church, and a host of other must-see events.



UK artist Luke Jerram will transform three spaces across the borough with Gaia. Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three dimensions.

Finborough Theatre presents four issue-based pieces of new work, including World Premieres Darkie Armo Girl, a solo play about surviving life with the innocence of a child, but the destructive self-abandon of a suicide bomber; and Pennyroyal, a heartrending new play about the sisterhood and motherhood. The Finborough also presents UK Premieres of two Ukrainian plays Take The Rubbish Out, Sasha from the country’s leading contemporary playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit; and Pussycat in Memory of Darkness, an urgent piece of new writing from Neda Nezhdana that starkly reveals the roots of Russia’s war on Ukraine through the brutalised eyes of one woman.

In a World Premiere in the beautiful formal gardens and wilded woodlands of Holland Park, Hannah Sandison and Opera Holland Park present Green Spaces: A Celebration in Song, three newly commissioned song cycles on the theme of parks during the pandemic. Acclaimed as a modern masterpiece in America, Opera Holland Park also presents the UK Premiere of Mark Adamo’s tender 1998 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age novel Little Women, focusing on the love between the four March sisters. Sian Edwards conducts, with Ella Marchment making her company debut as director.

In Cremorne Gardens, Shakespeare’s Globe presents the playwright’s epic tragedy Julius Caesar which takes on startlingly new relevance as we confront our own political landscape. Director Diane Page brings Shakespeare’s brutal Roman tale of ambition, incursion, and revolution to life.

Tickets will be pre-released to Kensington and Chelsea social housing tenants.

Theatre Temoin FLOOD

A number of outdoor art shows in the pop-up programme explore climate change and our relationship with the natural world, including WILD presented in Jubilee Square by Motionhouse, combining dynamic dance and acrobatic movement. In Kensington Memorial Park Timeless by performance company Joli Vyann presents a physical narrative of climate change and its consequences, fusing circus, theatre and dance. In the same location, physical theatre company Theatre Témoin presents FLOOD, a new, interactive outdoor spectacle, highlighting the health of the world’s ocean through the eyes of Britain’s coastal communities. One of the UK’s original and most inventive outdoor arts companies, Desperate Men presents Generations, a show that explores how the young and the old might co-exist in the future via issues around identity
politics, climate crises, social media as well as what unites and divides us.

Also in the outdoor art programme, Jeanefer Jean-Charles presents Black Victorians in Jubilee Square, a dance performance inspired by nineteenth-century studio photographs of black men, women and children. Exploring a complex, but often forgotten black presence in pre-Windrush

Britain, this performance calls attention to previously “hidden figures” and challenges historical and contemporary perceptions.

Aerial theatre company Ockham’s Razor & National Centre for Circus Arts present PUBLIC at World’s End Place, a show about support, freedom and tenderness which asks how and where we can be uninhibited and unbound. Faced Dance presents Where All Paths Lead at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, in which seven male dancers embrace the powerful possibilities of different journeys. Internationally renowned Bharata Natyam dancer, Vidya Thirunarayan is also a prominent ceramicist and combines these skills in Lives of Clay, a vivid and vital theatre experience telling stories of women from ancient myth and modern life outside The Chelsea Theatre.

Opera Holland Park and Carnival Village Trust bring together two of West London’s most well-loved musical institutions for Carnival Culture in the Park, three nights of calypso, Steelpan and Caribbean jazz during Notting Hill Carnival.

The Coronet Theatre presents Tiger is Coming, a celebration of contemporary Korean art, performance and culture from inflatable art to K-pop. The Chelsea Theatre presents 18 Fringe Shows, selected through an Open Call involving local residents and professionals in the decision-making process.

In a new Festival commission, therapeutic drama and advocacy company The Trojan Women Project has led community drama workshops in both North Kensington and Chelsea to weave personal stories of exile and loss into a new adaptation of Euripides’ great anti-war tragedy The Trojan Women, with a cast of refugees, some host community members and a core cast of professional actors who will perform at The Playground Theatre.

Throughout the duration of the festival, visitors can also explore Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW)’s fifth annual Public Art Trail, vibrant and immersive public art, free for all to enjoy. Opened on 18 June, in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea Festival, the Public Art Trail features world-class sculpture, installations and exhibits throughout the borough. Presented across nine zones, the Art Trail takes up residence at some of West London’s most beautiful and iconic sites. The final line-up, chosen by an esteemed select committee via an annual Open Call, features Azarra Amoy, Konstantin Benkovich, Sokari Douglas Camp CBE, Charlotte Colbert, David Böhm & Jiří Franta Kipling Hunt, Birungi Kawooya & Bokani Tshidzu, Roman Lokati, Maya Sanbar, Richard Mackness and Gavin Turk.

“Kensington and Chelsea Festival is inspired by the rich heritage, creativity, culture and innovation in the borough. Last year’s festival was a standout event in London’s cultural calendar, attracting 30,000 residents and visitors to the borough. It’s not long now before our parks, squares and venues will once again be filled with mesmerising theatre, breath-taking circus shows and captivating public art. This year’s programme has all the makings of another stellar festival and is even more accessible, with many
free events and more than a third of tickets at Pay What You Want prices – everyone’s invited!”

Cllr Emma Will, Kensington and Chelsea Council

“We received such heartwarming feedback after testing the pop-up festival concept in 2021 that we can’t wait to present more performances and public art in surprising places this summer. We’re thrilled to be back with a spectacular new programme that will bring our borough to life in bold and beautiful ways. Kensington and Chelsea Festival is about bringing joy and high quality arts experiences to all. A number of shows in the programme have no dialogue in them, including the school’s show and outdoor arts pieces, so they really can be enjoyed by all.”

Verena Cornwall, Artistic Director, Kensington and Chelsea Festival and Head of Culture and Place, Kensington and Chelsea Council
Pif Paf

Much of the programme has been curated with families and younger children in mind, from SEED by ambitious outdoor theatre company Pif-Paf, a highly visual hitch-hike on the journey from small Acorns to great Oak Trees; to family circus workshops with leading contemporary circus company Upswing and the entire pop-up art programme in the borough’s public spaces. The Place presents the album: Skool edition By SAY celebrating the joy and innocence of making up dances to exciting new music in this interactive, outdoor dance show created specifically for kids and their families. Meanwhile at The Playground Theatre families can explore the photographic exhibition of photos taken by local 10-16-year-olds, as well as My Yard, a semi-interactive play centred around a core group of young people reminiscing.

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