Welcome to Croydon’s festival season 2017

By - Thursday 15th June, 2017

Get set to celebrate summer with festivals across the borough

Photo by Crystal Palace Overground Festival, used with permission.

Keep your eye on the weather forecast. A lot depends on it. There’s a long (and let’s hope hot) summer of festivals and open air fun ahead.

Of course, not all the events will be outdoors. And even if it pours, our stiff upper lips will see us through. Not to mention our cagoules.

So come rain or shine… here’s what’s going on and where to find out more.

Croydon Comedy Festival www.croydoncomedyfestival.co.uk, 8th June-30th July.

Crystal Palace Overground Festival www.crystalpalacefestival.org, 12th-18th June.

Summer of Love festival, Wandle Park, 17th June, find it on Facebook.

The Minster Flower Festival 17th and 18th June, find it on Facebook.

Croydon Heritage Festival www.croydonheritagefestival.co.uk. 24th June-30th June.

Purley Festival www.purleyfestival.co.uk  26th June-2nd July.

South Norwood Festival : www.southnorwood.net/festival.html 26th June-2nd July.

Croydon Food and Music Festival www.croydonfoodfestival.co.uk, 25th June.

Croydon PrideFest www.croydonpride.org.uk. 15th July.

CDNzine street art jam, 23rd July. find it on Facebook.

Pirates of Penzance in the Park www.codashows.co.uk, presented by Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association in Wandle Park, 26th-29th July

Dick Barton and the Slaves of the Sultan www.twcoulsdon.org.uk, presented by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon at Coulsdon Manor Hotel, 26th July-30th July and again 1st August-5th August.

Summer got started with Addiscombe People’s Carnival – not one to big itself up, but well attended with a great community vibe in Ashburton Park on Saturday 27th May. Now as we move into June, the headliners starts to approach, and they don’t come any bigger than Croydon Heritage Festival.

Founded in 2013, this is the fifth time the town’s come together to celebrate Croydon’s rich heritage. This year sees a fantastically diverse programme masterminded by the Whitgift Foundation, with something for everyone: drama, music, talks, poetry, film screenings with live music soundtracks, open buildings and extra visiting times laid on at locations such as fascinating Croydon Airport, which have limited access most of the year. For 2017, the Heritage Festival’s theme is evolution: how Croydon’s adapted and grown to become the exciting place that it is today.

Along with cultural events such as writer John Grindrod’s talk about his new book, Outskirts, all about living between city and greenbelt (John is well-known as the author of Concretopia, a close-up look at the controversial building material that’s ever-present for Croydonians – a book that’s a must-read for anyone who wants to understand modern Croydon) some previous hits are returning. There’s Jenny Lockyer’s moving and inventive play about aviator Amy Johnson, which debuted at the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre back in March, and Edge City Croydon, the National Trust’s walking tour which takes in the glories of Croydon’s concrete, at last acknowledged for the visionary excitement it represents rather than the distinct drawbacks it proved to bring. There are just four chances to take this unique guided walk, on Sunday 25th June, so be sure to book early. The Heritage Festival runs from Saturday 24th – Friday 30th June.

Croydon’s very own Summer of Love

The summer’s other big beast is Purley Festival. Back this year after a fallow 2016 and bigger than ever, it runs for a packed week of events culminating in a weekend of music, food and fun on Rotary Fields on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July. There’s a children’s festival, fringe events and the Original Aces, along with the Ciyo Brown Band, will be headlining on the main stage.

Then there’s Croydon’s very own Summer of Love party. It’s fifty years since 1967′s outbreak of hippydom which seemed (at the time) to shake the establishment to its foundations and usher in an age of free love and flower power. To mark the anniversary, Croydon will tune in, turn on and drop out at the Summer of Love festival which takes place in Wandle Park on Saturday 17th June and features live music, arts and crafts, flowers for everyone’s hair and a travelling fairy grotto.

If flower power’s your thing, there’s also Croydon Minster’s new Flower Festival, to be held on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June. There’ll be beautiful floral displays, refreshments, a mini summer fayre to entertain the little ones and (on Saturday only) a rare chance to climb the bell tower and take in its seldom-seen views.

It’s partytime right across Croydon

The theme of love and unity goes on at Croydon’s second PrideFest party, taking place in Queen’s Garden’s on Saturday 15th July. Its centrepiece is a rainbow flower bed created by the community’s floral contributions under the guidance of Ally MacKinlay, founder and inspirer of Croydon Saffron Central, our wonderful saffron farm just off Park Lane where Croydon’s namesake flower, crocus sativus, cultivated here first by the Romans for its precious spice, has been grown once again since 2015. PrideFest celebrates diversity, inclusiveness and the creative energy of the whole community, and last year, Croydon was the only location within the M25 to hold a Pride event, apart from the big central London party. It’s yet another reason for growing pride in our town.

For the summer’s biggest laughs, there’s Croydon Comedy Festival, which this year features turns from Richard Herring, John Robins, Kevin Day and Lloyd Langford. The comedy festival also includes Pirates of Penzance in the Park, as Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association once again puts the Wandle Park bandstand to use as a splendid theatre in the round from Wednesday 26th – Saturday 29th July. If you live in the borough’s deep south but still need a fix of outdoor drama, Theatre Workshop Coulsdon’s the one to watch: the company’s outdoor summer production this year is Dick Barton And The Slaves Of The Sultan, performed in the glade in the beautiful grounds of Coulsdon Manor Hotel. With a barbecue laid on as well, it’s well worth a visit between Wednesday 26th to Saturday 30th July, then again from Tuesday 1st to Saturday 5th August. 

Croydon’s gourmets will gather at the Food and Music Festival, the annual south Croydon street party in the restaurant quarter, this year taking place on Sunday 25th June, with pavement tables, stalls selling local produce, chefs showing their skills in demo kitchens and live music. And for street art lovers, there’s another new initiative, the CDNzine Street Art Jam on Sunday 23rd July – find out more on Facebook.

Of course, it’s not all happening in the town centre. Croydon’s suburbs will be seeing plenty of festival action with great local events in Norwood, Thornton Heath and Crystal Palace. Wherever you live in Croydon (or if you’re coming to see us to join in the fun, a very warm welcome!) we wish you a long, relaxed and happy Croydonian summer.

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Mark Johnson

    Sorry to be nitpicky but I think you got two events mixed up. There isn’t an Addiscombe People’s Festival, there is a New Addington People’s Carnival and a Addiscombe Festival. Both those events took place over the last month.

    Still a brilliant article. I didn’t realise there was so much going on this summer.

  • blath8@googlemail.com

    Fantastic, fantastic festival in Wandle park yesterday. Great music and brilliant atmosphere. Huge thanks to all the organisers, especially Andy. Really hope there will be another one next year. Why not rope in the Environment Fair too?