Circus, Swimming And Silent Discos: Join The Docks Promises All Sorts Of Waterfront Revelry This Summer

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Circus, Swimming And Silent Discos: Join The Docks Promises All Sorts Of Waterfront Revelry This Summer

This is a sponsored article on behalf of the Royal Docks.

A brand new, summer-long festival has sprung up in one of east London's most characterful neighbourhoods, the Royal Docks. Boasting a jam-packed schedule of live music, circus acts, art exhibitions and even some wild swimming, Join the Docks has a simple mission: to help you celebrate this local London gem in all its watery wonder.

What exactly is in store, you ask? Only a whopping 150+ cultural events (many of which are free) filling your calendar right the way through 'til the end of September. Each set to showcase precisely what makes the Royal Docks so special.

Take a dip in one of Royal Docks' two outdoor swimming areas.

Maybe it's the fact this Thames-side town, home to three giant docks (called Victoria, Albert and George V — can you guess why it's called the Royal Docks yet?), is home to almost as much water as land? Maybe it's the stunning parks and outdoor spaces? Or perhaps it's the talented communities who call it home? Whatever the Royal Docks' secret is, with so many free activities on offer, this festival is the perfect time to start exploring it.

Oh, and served by no fewer than 11 stops, visiting the Royal Docks is also mighty fine excuse to ride (or should that be drive?) the front seat of the DLR — always a pleasure.

Join the Docks summer festival
The Turbans are performing at EFG London Jazz Festival. Photo: Danny North

But where to start? For a one-stop-shop of cultural delight, don't miss the full-blown (and free!) festival-within-a-festival on Saturday 24 August. The Certain Blacks Ensemble Festival is an all day affair held in the beautiful Crystal Gardens overlooking the water. If you can tear yourself away from the view, you're rewarded with a diverse line-up of renowned jazz artists including Cleveland Watkiss, Bryon Wallen and Orphy Robinson, plus aerial circus, live art and spoken word performances. There may even be a little hula hooping action too.

There's plenty more in store for jazz-lovers. EFG London Jazz Festival, now in its 37th year, ventures outdoors for the very first time on Saturday 31 August. Its Summer Stage at Royal Albert Dock brings award-winning musicians from all over the world, fresh new talent and mouth-watering street food together for a day of both audial and literal deliciousness. A superb opportunity to soak up sun, scenery, snacks and a whole bunch of eclectic sounds.

Join the Docks summer festival
Hop on a Silent Disco Walking Tour of the Royal Docks. Dancing optional (but recommended)

If it's quirk you're after, quirk is precisely what you'll find at Guru Dudu's Silent Disco Walking Tours. Yep, you heard that right. Silent. Disco. Tours. Encase your noggin in a set of headphones and embark on a guided audio tour through the Royal Docks, complete with a side of bop-worthy tunes from recent decades. Admire the surroundings first hand, learn something new and maybe even break into a spontaneous flash mob. How's that for a warm welcome?

Join the Docks is just as great for kids as it is for adults. Case in point: Kids Summer Splash. The paddling pool is the place for under 12s to have a good ol' splosh, while the enclosed Dock Pool is perfect for confident swimmers of any age. Both are free, but you need to register in advance for the Dock Pool.

Join the Docks summer festival
Dive into the paddling pool at Kids Summer Splash. Photo: Oliver Rudkin

If you're swinging by Join the Docks towards the end of the festival, make sure to pop by Doodling the Docks, a free art exhibition open every Friday to Sunday throughout September. Local illustrator, Matt Ponting, brings the Royal Docks' colourful history to life with a series of 30 unique illustrations. Accompanied by fun facts, each contains a little nugget of the area's past, as well as possibilities for the future. Matt is also running art workshops as part of the festival, if you fancy getting creative yourself.

As both summer and the festival finally draw to a close, there's one final treat in store you won't want to miss: the big finale, Wishful. On Saturday 28 September, as the sun sets over the Royal Docks, a magical spectacle of light and water illuminate across the docks. Gigantic gliding swans, a radiant mechanical garden, floating shrines and a wondrous burst of fireworks, reflected in the waterfront. Wishful is a dazzling production by Emergency Exit Arts, and promises to be an entirely enchanting end to this summer of local love.

Join the Docks summer festival
Emergency Exit Arts sure know how to put on a great closing show.

Join the Docks is the Royal Docks' summer festival, taking place July-September 2019. There are tons of events to choose from, the majority of which are free. For more information on Join the Docks and all the activities on offer, visit the website here.

Last Updated 29 August 2019