Revealed: City of London’s biggest ever outdoor fair with vertical dancers, immersive theatre, and street sideshows
- The epic recreation of Bartholomew Fair in the City of London will see over 30 free events, live performances, and unique spectacles in a contemporary reimagining of the capital’s greatest historic event.
- The exciting full programme includes the world-premieres of RESURGAM, a stunning vertical dance performance on St Paul’s Cathedral; Dinner for All, a major immersive theatrical circus experience; Carnesky’s Showwomen Spectacular, a new promenade theatrical show directed by Olivier award winner Marisa Carnesky; and 1133 the latest joyful immersive experience by the multi-award-winning non-binary artist Kit Green.
- Bartholomew Fair is part of the City of London Corporation’s Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.
The full free programme for the revival of London’s greatest-ever historic fair has been announced by the City of London Corporation today.
Bartholomew Fair, which dates back to the 12th century and was last held in 1855, began as a cloth fair and quickly became London’s pre-eminent event, entertaining visitors for over 700 years. It drew acts and crowds from all over the country and further afield.
The City’s revival, which takes place from 31 August to 16 September, sees a programme of UK and internationally-renowned artists bringing a modern twist in a spectacular celebration of contemporary culture and the City of London’s unique heritage.
It will be launched with RESURGAM, an awe-inspiring vertical dance performance on the façade of St Paul’s Cathedral. The show, by world-leading US-based vertical dance company BANDALOOP, is co-produced and co-commissioned by the City Corporation and Greenwich+Docklands International Festival.
Other events include a striking night-time projection installation by imitating the dog, creating an illuminated journey through the City’s streets - and Charity SuperMkt, the award-winning multi-charity fashion pop-up market curated by Maria Chenoweth, CEO of the sustainable clothing charity, TRAID and Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of HemingwayDesign and co- founder of British fashion brand, Red or Dead.
Bartholomew Fair will take place across iconic locations throughout the City every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Locations include, Paternoster Square, Aldgate Square, Leadenhall Market, Broadgate, Smithfield Market and beyond.
The must-see highlights include:
Week one: 31 August – 2 September
Paternoster Square, St Paul’s Churchyard, Carter Lane Gardens, Carter Lane and New Street Square.
- RESURGAM by BANDALOOP is a performance which sees vertical dancers suspended from the iconic façade of St Paul’s Cathedral, taking place at 6:15pm each night. Also featured as part of Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2023 Programme.
- 1133 by KIT GREEN, the Olivier-award-winning artist, brings a punchy and provocative reworking of Bartholomew Fair by Ben Jonson (1614) to Festival Gardens.
- Primus 15ft6 is an explosive multi-disciplinary circus show from a leading Belgium-based circus company taking place at St Paul’s Churchyard.
- Funny Business by Fraser Hooper guarantees giggles galore. This hilarious show, from a festival favourite and internationally award-winning clown, features a stunt duck, a human fish and the silliest boxing match you have ever seen.
Week two: 7 – 9 September
Aldgate Square, Middlesex Street, Broadgate, Finsbury Avenue Square and 100 Liverpool Street
- Dinner for All, by Gorilla Circus, is a major immersive theatrical circus experience celebrating the rich history of Bartholomew Fair told through a dinner service like no other. Turning Broadgate Circle into a stage for daring and impressive circus stunts and tricks at 6:15pm daily. Delivered in collaboration with British Land.
- Eau de Memoire by Miss High Leg Kicks is an interactive, fun show in Aldgate Square celebrating the rich experiences and memories evoked by our sense of smell. Featuring a unique Bartholomew Fair fragrance that will transport audiences back to 1855.
- The Lips by Puppets with Guts is a big puppet singalong show. The Lips reanimate our favourite songs, celebrate our shared love of popular music and uphold our freedom to speak out through a luminous pop-puppetry lip-sync performance, taking place at Broadgate.
- Follow Me Into by imitating the dog, is a series of projection installations that weaves a magical story through the City of London at night, as a child embarks on a quest across its landscape, encountering figures from the city’s past – each with a story to tell, each with a talent to pass on. Creating an extraordinary journey through its intriguing streets and hidden squares. Taking place at New Street Square, Aldgate School, St Botolph’s Without Bishopsgate, St Stephen Walbrook, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Broadgate.
- Volo: dreams of flight by Studio Go Go is an exciting Leonardo da Vinci-inspired virtual reality playground swing experience.
Week three: 14 – 16 September
Cloth Fair, Smithfield Rotunda Gardens, Grand Avenue, Smithfield Market, Lloyd's of London, The Cheesegrater and Leadenhall Market.
- Carnesky’s Showwomen Sideshow Spectacular, is a promenade performance experience with an amazing cast of circus, variety and rare skilled women performers in a special street show. With specially designed unique sideshow stages, original story telling and jaw-dropping acts - Carnesky’s Showwomen Sideshow Spectacular unearths extraordinary stories of London's women performers past and present. Directed by Olivier-award-winner Marisa Carnesky taking places on Grand Avenue in Smithfield Market and Cloth Fair.
- White Wings, by Close-Act Theatre is a larger-than-life stilt performance which floats above audiences. As elegant dancers use their large wings to enchant and impress 1.5m above the crowds, accompanies by a platoon of drummers. Starting outside the Lloyd’s of London building at 6.15pm on Saturday 16th September.
- Spark!, by Worldbeaters is a unique and captivating performance where mysterious characters made of light and sound take audiences on a mesmerising journey. With high-impact drumming and vibrant musical arrangements, lighting design, choreography, dazzling costumes, and lovable characters: this is a must-see. Taking place around The Scalpel, Lloyd’s of London and Leadenhall Market.
- Mat Ricardo - a unique, hilarious one-man show from the world’s most critically acclaimed variety artist. Scalpel sharp wit and astonishing skills honed over three decades travelling the world’s stages, streets and spiegel tents come together to create big tricks and big laughs for all ages, taking place on Lime Street.
- Cuckoo by Jaha Koo is a bittersweet, funny show from South Korea at the Bridewell Theatre. It launches LIFT the City - a new programme designed by London’s biennial festival LIFT in partnership with the City of London Corporation to bring performances, interventions, talks and outdoor events to the Square Mile.
In addition alfresco dining will form the Bartholomew Fair Market Place, recreating the original hustle and bustle of the Fair each week in locations across the City including Paternoster Square, Carter Lane, The Cheesegrater, Middlesex Street and Cloth Fair.
Plus every Saturday will include a programme of creative workshops by Tootles + Nibs. Bringing a host of creative workshops to the fair. Expect, print making, clowning, music and circus. Carefully curated for all the family to enjoy.
For more information and to access the full programme visit thecityofldn.com/bartholomew-fair.
City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Chris Hayward said:
“We are delivering an amazing contemporary revival of the capital’s greatest historic fair, with three stunning weeks of free fun-packed entertainment set to take London’s breath away.
“This unmissable event will be launched by an incredible vertical dance performance on the façade of St Paul’s Cathedral, right in the heart of London.
“It’s part of our flagship Destination City programme making the Square Mile a thriving, seven-day-a-week visitor destination for everyone to enjoy.”
City of London Corporation Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee Chairman Munsur Ali said:
“Bartholomew Fair is a landmark new event with an extraordinary breadth of cultural experiences, which is sure to become a major talking point, across the City and well beyond.
“It is fantastic to see the City of London’s vibrant arts and culture and unique heritage being showcased by the City Corporation’s Destination City programme.”
The City Corporation is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year. The organisation manages a range of world-class cultural and heritage institutions, including the Barbican Centre, Tower Bridge, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Art Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives, and Keats House. It also supports the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the City of London:
The City of London, which spans the Square Mile, is an unrivalled world-renowned destination which offers art, culture, history, dining, and more. From exploring London’s Roman Amphitheatre in Guildhall to dining in al-fresco restaurants and bars atop some of the City’s most striking skyscrapers, visitors can enjoy delicious food markets and wander trails of hidden gardens, artworks, and public spaces. There is something for everyone to see, do and visit in the City - the birthplace of London. www.thecityofldn.com
The City of London Corporation works in collaboration with the City’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to animate and promote the Square Mile: Aldgate Connect, Cheapside Business Alliance, Culture Mile, Eastern City BID and Fleet Street Quarter.
About City of London Corporation:
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
About Destination City:
The City of London Corporation’s flagship Destination City programme sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and global visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.
Find out more about the Destination City Programme here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/destinationcity.
Picture credit: Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral / Graham Lacdao