Comment Walthamstow

The Walthamstow Garden Party’s not over

Dominic Mandrell documents his efforts to bring Lloyd Park’s free summer festival back for good

Credit: Penny Dampier

Back in 2022 within this very newspaper, I posed the question – could the community revive a smaller, locally-focused version of the Walthamstow Garden Party after the Barbican’s departure?

It’s been a long journey for me, along with Makeila and Daniel from Friends of Lloyd Park (FOLP), filled with meetings, public gatherings, funding workshops, and major obstacles.

Last year, we had to cancel our first attempt due to logistical issues. But now, we can finally announce that a small pilot event – The Summer Disco Picnic – will take place in Lloyd Park on Saturday, 13th July.

The biggest challenge to putting this festival on again has been its finances. Unlike the Barbican, we don’t have dedicated staff or substantial fundraising capabilities. Producing a free-entry festival while paying for essentials like tent hire, security, toilets, generators, and speaker systems is difficult and sustaining ourselves financially while dedicating time to this unpaid passion
project has been tough.

Our ‘Make it Happen’ grant application was shortlisted, but it didn’t happen because we wanted to host the event in Walthamstow, countering the council’s aim to spread cultural spending borough-wide this year.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Credit: Penny Dampier

I don’t criticise the council – they have a tough job balancing diminishing budgets fairly and they’ve been very supportive in other ways. However, we still faced a choice: cancel again or organise something resourcefully?

We pared back budgets, and reduced the event to one day with a focus on DJ-led programming and with sponsorship from Pillars Brewery, Central Estates, and the University of Portsmouth as a main donor – we are nearly there, but we still need a fundraiser.

The Walthamstiow Garden Party has its many fans and has been described by participants as “special”. One of these includes local DJ and sound man Pat Richmond who told me: “I started out as a DJ at Walthamstow Garden Party but after a few years ended up
doing all of the sound for the dance tent. I think that was what was special about it – the opportunities it gave for local people to shine. Like Billy Paul once sang – Bring The Family Back.”

Help us bring the Garden Party back by coming to our fundraiser on Saturday 29th June at Pillars Brewery. Visit our website for more information

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