Kensington and Chelsea Festival 2023 has been in full swing since the beginning of July, and there is still plenty left to see and do as the festival enters its final fortnight.
Kensington and Chelsea Festival (1st July – 31st August 2023) has been taking place across the borough in a reimagining of its spaces, throughout this summer. From the best-known cultural venues to the less discovered areas and outdoor spaces, Kensington and Chelsea Festival is making use of every inch of the borough to host a multitude of live art performances, large and small, showcasing exceptional established artists alongside the very best emerging talent.
With a cultural offering that spans theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, family shows, participatory activities, talks, walks and public art pieces, the festival was born out of a desire to lift spirits by celebrating culture and creativity.
Kensington and Chelsea Festival was established in 2021 with a firm goal of ensuring the myriad events offer everyone in the borough and beyond a chance to experience the widest variety of culture on their doorsteps. The festival is run and funded by Kensington and Chelsea Council.
There’s still time to enjoy these great activities and shows at the Kensington and Chelsea Festival 2023
CARNIVAL CULTURE IN THE PARK AT OPERA HOLLAND PARK – 16th to 19th August 7.30pm: Featuring “Etienne Charles Carnival”, an exciting multi-disciplinary celebration of Trinidad’s Carnival through its music, movements and masquerade, “ The Sound Of A People”, “Steelband Summer”, an exciting evening of steelpan brought to you by Endurance Steel Orchestra, Pan Nation, and North Tyneside Steelband, “Pan Jazz”, an evening of Caribbean Jazz featuring an exciting lineup of feature artists, backed by The Tabernacle Crew, and a final double bill of legends, Trinidadian calypsonian Crazy who is one of the most successful artists from Trinidad and Tobago and multi-award winning calypso king Red Plastic Bag. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/notting-hill-carnival-at-opera-holland-park
606 CLUB OUTDOOR POP UPS – 10th August to 31st August all day: Enjoy free evening performances of live music along the King’s Road in a special series curated by Chelsea’s much-loved jazz venue, the 606 Club, this August. Sponsored by Cadogan and the King’s Road Partnership as part of the 2023 Kensington and Chelsea Festival, world-renowned musicians are set to bring some pizzazz to the neighbourhood with pop-up performances every Thursday. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/the-606-club-outdoor-pop-up%27s-
MAKESHIFTS & REALITIES – 8th August to 2nd September 7.30pm (+ 3pm on Fridays and Sundays): Aardvark Theatre presents a triple bill of Makeshifts and Realities by Gertrude Robins, and Honour Thy Father by H. M. Harwood. In Makeshifts – a moving and unexpectedly humorous look at the sexual double-standards and the pressures imposed on women in the early twentieth century – two unmarried sisters face uncertain futures unless they can find husbands. In Realities, we catch up with Caroline two years later as she reviews the choices she has made. And in Honour Thy Father an upper-class English family, ruined by the father’s gambling habit, have fled to Bruges in 1912 where they live in exile in straitened circumstances, anxiously awaiting a visit from their eldest daughter, woman whose career provides them with their only income. £23 (£20 concessions). https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/makeshifts-%26-realities
RAMALAMA DING DONG (Comedy/theatre) – 16th August 7.30pm: An innovative solo multimedia comedy-theatre piece, inspired by real-life experiences of racism. In 2017 the phrase, “Ramalama Ding Dong” was repeatedly sneered at Roshi by a stranger on a train after she briefly spoke in Farsi to her family. This formed the basis of a playful comic experiment that aims to “turn something hateful into a piece of art.” Roshi takes a multi-dimensional approach to performance, combining experiments in comedy, storytelling, singing and sound art. Suitable for age 14+. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/ramalama-ding-dong
THE SHOW OF SHOWS (Performance art) – 17th August 7.30pm: A collection of four short, interconnected works exploring the impact of Section 28 legislation (in effect 1988-2000), which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and prevented schools from discussing queer life. Each work takes the form of a confessional monologue, interspersed with audio interviews, whilst throwing out sweets to the audience, lip synching to Margaret Thatcher’s anti-gay speech at the 1987 Tory Conference, and exploring the potential repeat of history as LGBTQ+ censorship in education find itself once again, a current issue. Suitable for age 16+. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/the-show-of-shows
CASTAWAY, HIGHLY SPRUNG – 19th and 20th August all day: Drowning under a crushing mass of plastic, the Keeper of the Waterways awakens and rises up. It’s time for change. Highly Sprung’s CastAway is a stunning outdoor performance that explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on our waterways. Featuring a unique gyroscopic flying machine, it presents a brand new approach to aerial theatre. The all – female cast immerses audiences in an underwater world where performers dive, twist and float over 26 feet in the air to delight, inspire and captivate audiences of all ages. Little Wormwood Scrubs Park. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/highly-sprung
MOTIONHOUSE, CAPTIVE – 19th and 20th August all day. Four performers use an exciting blend of dance, acrobatics and aerial work inside a large cage. Disorientated and shaken, they use their skill and instinct to survive in this emotionally charged and athletic piece. Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem The Panther, this powerfully emotional outdoor show explores notions of captivity. Extremely physical, Captive is a thrilling blend of dance and acrobatics with a dynamic narrative exploring human relationships in captivity. Little Wormwood Scrubs Park. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/captive
MOTIONHOUSE, KNOT – 19th and 20th August 1pm to 6pm: Knot sees two male dancers using extreme physicality, complex lifts and contact choreography to explore the many facets of human relationships through physical expression. Twisting and turning, the balance shifts from one dancer to the other as they use their physicality to express their emotions. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’, Knot asks questions about who we are; delving into our inner lives and our relationships with others. Little Wormwood Scrubs Park. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/knot
CONFLUENCE (Live music) – 25th August 7.30pm: Expect the unexpected in this unique meeting of mind and soul, bringing together a confluence of artists and blending musical genres, experiences and artistry to explore cultural interconnectedness. In this family friendly show, tabla player Sanju Sahai will be joined by harp guitarist Jason Carter, award-winning pianist Rosabella Gregory and Kathak dance artist Jaymini Sahai, presenting Kathak Dance in a new light. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/confluence
ALLEYNE DANCE, BONDED – 26th August, afternoon: Bonded is an outdoor production that explores the construct of human dependency – especially that of siblings – and how time and external conditions can affect the synergetic connection. Performed by twin sisters, Kristina and Sadé, the work takes the audience through a transitional journey of inter-and-independency through abstract dance narrative. Outside The Chelsea Theatre. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/bonded
JUSTICE IN MOTION – CODE – 26th August, afternoon: CODE is a spectacular blend of physical theatre, parkour and trial bike stunts with live rap music that shines a light on issues of exploitation, county lines and knife crime. A very poignant topic, in particular for younger audiences, but relevant and engaging for all ages. Also features a skate park – bring along your skateboard to take part. World’s End Place. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/code
KICKMOUSE MYSTERIUM (Physical theatre) – 26th August 2pm: Set in a homemade world of cardboard, contraptions, illusions and mystifying objects, this comedy fable follows Jon (the chaotic student of Frank the Dog) as he breaks a precious artefact and has to redeem himself through a series of challenges and games. A funny, stylish, challenging, yet accessible, physical comedy show Suitable for age 3+. the show explores the process of mastering one’s body, acquiring physical coordination and confidence through practice and repetition. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/kickmouse-mysterium
THE TREE RINGS (Physical theatre) – 29th August 7.30pm: Trees hold stories, in more ways than one. They hold memories and myths. The rings within a tree’s trunk are archives of changes and events in our environment. What if they could tell you those stories? What if a tree could ring you? Using physicality, shadow puppetry, music and quirky humour, The Tree Rings explores a boy’s relationship with a tree over several decades, combining a childlike delight for magic and myths, stories from trees around the world, and a concern for our natural environment. Suitable for age 8+. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/the-tree-rings
THE MARINER’S SONG (Theatre) – 30th August 7.30pm: This award-winning ‘round the campfire’ verse storytelling experience from London-based writer-performer Rajan Sharma, takes audiences aged 12+ on a lyrical voyage, navigating ancient myth, family history and life at sea. Contemplating humanity’s primal connection to oceans, rivers and seas – and our connection and responsibility to one another – Sharma’s narrative odyssey is directly inspired by his unique first-hand experience crewing on a Deep-Sea Challenge, interweaving his grandfather’s timeless wisdom and familiar characters from Greek mythology. Pay what you want. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/the-mariner’s-song
KENSINGTON + CHELSEA ART WEEK ART TRAIL 6TH EDITION to 31st August all day: Throughout the festival, visitors are invited to explore Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW)’s Public Art Trail, delivered in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea Festival with assistance from Kensington and Chelsea Council. Located across nine zones, the Art Trail will take up residence at some of West London’s most beautiful and iconic sites, including Duke of York Square, Sloane Street, Royal Avenue on the King’s Road, Earl’s Court, North Kensington, Holland Park, High Street Kensington, and Knightsbridge. The final line-up for 2023 was chosen by an esteemed select committee following an Open Call, and includes Ai Weiwei, Misha Milovanovich, Baker & Borowski, Josephine Chime, Satur Chong, Lucy Oates, Malgorzata Lisiecka, Norma D Hunter and Peter Morris. Free. https://www.kcfestival.co.uk/programme/art-trail-6th-edition