Now in its 8th year, the Bloomsbury Festival has become a landmark in the North London arts calendar. A vibrant celebration of music, visual arts, dance, literature and spoken word, the festival runs from Tuesday 15 to Sunday 20 October with free lunchtime and after-work events during the week and performances and talks all day on Saturday and Sunday.
This year’s programme is themed around vitality and includes over 200 free arts, community and cultural events. Whether you live, work or study in the area you’re bound to find something to intrigue and inspire you.
There’s an eclectic selection of classical, contemporary and world music to enjoy. Commonwealth Musician of the Year in 2012 and Bloomsbury resident Jayson Gillham will give a recital of works by Chopin, Debussy and Ligetti at the Senate House (University of London) on 15 October, and there’s a unique opportunity to join the London Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Shostakovich’s 15th Symphony on the same evening. Opera-lovers will enjoy Bloomsbury Opera’s Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! on 16 & 19 October at Goodenough College, an unusual double-bill combining highlights from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.
SOAS will once again be hosting the World Music Stage at the Russell Square Weekend on both 19 and 20 October. If jazz is more to your liking, you can enjoy Jazz in the Square all day on 20 October in the beautiful surroundings of Bedford Square.
Fancy writing the next hit musical? Sir Tim Rice gives a masterclass on 17 October at the Bloomsbury Hotel.
Literature and spoken word
The Orwell-inspired Ministry of Communication exhibition will open the archives of the University of London’s Senate House to explore the building’s wartime role as the Ministry of Information. Follow the project at @BloomsburySAS on Twitter, and on the School of Advanced Study blog.
The always-entertaining Will Self is in conversation with Dr Nick Shepley, discussing links between urban life and mental health in “The Madness Of The Modern City” on 16 October at the same venue.
There are walks, tours and talks taking place throughout the festival on Bloomsbury resident writers from Dickens and Disraeli to TS Eliot, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
Dance and Movement
Subratha Subramaniam’s Sadhana Dance performs new work Under My Skin at The Place on 18 and 19 October, and in extract at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital at lunchtime on 17 October. The show uses surgery as inspiration for contemporary South Asian dance; tickets for The Place performances are £15 (£12 concs), and free for the lunchtime show.
There’s a weekend of dance workshops and performances at Russell Square on 18 and 19 October, including performances from The Place’s youth and adult community groups and Centre for Advanced Training, and students from Westminster Kingsway College. You can also catch the Westminster Kingsway students in action at the Wellcome Collection on Sunday 20 October, in a new work created in collaboration with Wayne McGregor | Random Dance in celebration of the company’s Thinking With The Body exhibition.
Bricolage Dance Movement’s haunting Story Of A Night Pianist comes to Bloomsbury at the Dairy Arts Centre on Wakefield Street, with a cast of 20 dancers and musicians telling the story a musician haunted by characters from the past. The event is free but numbers are limited, so booking is advised.
There are hundreds more events taking place - flick through the online programme to find out more.
Bloomsbury Festival 2013 (various venues) takes place 15-20 October and all events are free unless stated. Tickets can be reserved for some events but tickets will also be available on the door.
Photos of 2012 festival via Bloomsbury Festival Flickrpool