Sam Hunt, creative director of Waltham Forest Borough of Culture 2019, previews some of the events lined up for the year ahead
It’s finally here, the opening event of Waltham Forest’s year in the spotlight as the first-ever London Borough of Culture!
Working with hundreds of people from across the borough of all ages, the programme could only have been made here and draws upon the history, nature, and physical make-up of the borough and its people. It is unmistakably and unashamedly Waltham Forest.
The opening event, Welcome to the Forest, is taking place between Friday 11th and Sunday 13th January, inspired by our year’s themes of ‘Radicals, Makers and Fellowship’. It will be the biggest party Waltham Forest has ever seen!
Everyone will be welcomed to the forest as we celebrate the shared past, present and future of this corner of north-east London that we call home. Waltham Forest Town Hall will be transformed through a high-octane audio-visual show created in a unique collaboration between musician and producer, Talvin Singh OBE, and video artists Greenaway & Greenaway, together with students of Leyton Sixth Form College and electronic music producers from the borough.
They will be joined by a new commission from world-renowned artists Addictive TV presenting the soundtrack of the borough through the video remixing of Waltham Forest’s rich and diverse musical talent. Locally-based international festival curators, Continental Drifts, will transform Forest Road into a neon-lit, celebratory winter carnival featuring groups and individuals drawn from the borough and beyond.
In Lloyd Park, epic lighting installation Nest, from artists Marshmallow Laser Feast, will transform the familiar into the fantastic, accompanied by a transcendental soundscape from composer, Erland Cooper, created in collaboration with local choirs and schools.
International in scale and ambition but telling the local stories of this place, it’s time to say to the world: “Welcome to the forest.” But this is just the start, there is so much more to enjoy throughout the year.
In March, Africa Express will present Africa Express: TOGETHER, a show of togetherness in Leytonstone – where founding member Damon Albarn grew up – bringing together musicians from different cultures, genres and generations, to break boundaries and promote cross-cultural collaboration through music. Rehearsals will create new music for a five-hour headline show to showcase the rich cultural history of the borough.
In April, Blackhorse Workshop will create a hands-on immersive performance Atomic 50 in Leyton, inspired by Waltham Forest’s manufacturing heritage of tin toy making.
And in May, thousands of bicycles will lead a mass procession through the borough to Chingford Plain, for a 21st Century re-imagining of Chingford’s traditional May Day Fayre.
This is just a flavour of what is to come; every corner of the borough will see something never seen before. The excitement is building – let’s show the rest of London and the wider world what Waltham Forest means.