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Get creative for Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air this July

Walthamstow Garden Party, the annual east London summer festival which had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis, has been reimagined as Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air, a free community-powered programme developed by the Barbican and local artists and organisations to encourage residents to get creative at home and channel the spirit of the festival from Wednesday 1 July.

Participants are encouraged to share their creations in their windows, on their balconies, in their gardens, and on social media by using the hashtag #WGPInTheAir. More information about the official programme and  resources to get started can be found at:

Rachel Smith, Senior Producer at Barbican, said: ‘This year Walthamstow Garden Party can’t take place in the beautiful surrounds of Lloyd Park, so instead local residents are working together to bring it directly to people’s homes. Throughout July, we’ll be sharing a huge range of free activities and resources, connecting people with the incredible network of local residents who make the festival happen and encouraging families, friends and neighbours to share their own ideas and get creative. We can’t be together in person, but the sounds and spirit of the festival will be “In The Air” and we want everyone to get involved.’

Cllr Paul Douglas, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture said: ‘We want the whole borough to be able to come together, enjoy and participate in the Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air activities. Over the years I have been so impressed with the artists and creators involved in the Walthamstow Garden Party and having lived next door to Lloyd Park and had the Garden Party on my doorstep, I am excited that this year it will be on everybody’s doorstep. With the programme re-invented, this provides an opportunity to get more residents involved so they can get creative and stay connected as we continue to support both our residents and creative community during these times.’

The Barbican has supported local arts organisations to create free resources and share ideas to inspire residents to express their creativity. Highlights of the festival include decorative 'kimono' kite making with Blackhorse Workshop, DIY windchimes with Walthamstow Toy Library and Play Centre and Scribble & Smudge, and crafting birds with local sculptor and animator Esther Neslen and the William Morris Gallery. Anybody who wants to join in will also be able to try their hands at weaving air twig looms with Rezia Wahid MBE from the Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum and explore a range of artist workshops and family activities commissioned by Artillery that take inspiration from the much-loved children’s book Grandad’s Island by Waltham Forest author-illustrator Benji Davies.

Residents will also have a chance to enjoy Drum Work’s mass drumming performance which was filmed in the drummers’ homes with makeshift drumming equipment, and watch a new dance film from Leytonstone-based inclusive dance company DashDotDance inspired by the movement of helicopter seeds from sycamore trees. There’ll also be spoken word, poetry and music produced by young people aged 11-25, part of Voices Rising launched by Beatroots Creative, MVP Workshops and Waltham Forest Music Service, plus videos from African music, dance and storytelling group Mbilla Arts and Leytonstone-based performing arts studio X7eaven.

Moreover, the popular Skate Jam is going online this year, inviting residents to film themselves doing skate, BMX, scooter and inline tricks as part of a virtual competition. The closing date for video submissions is Friday 17 July with winners announced after Sunday 19 July.

Plus, throughout the weekend of 18 and 19 July, East London Radio will be broadcasting live, presenting activities, discussions and music from Walthamstow Garden Party friends hosted by local hip hop artist and mentor Lemzi and Sam Francis from X7eaven. Another highlight will see Barbican music programmers curate an hour of music each day featuring some of the most exciting artists from the Walthamstow Garden Party archives, new artists visitors would have discovered this year, as well as a daily live broadcast of local musicians curated by St. Mary’s Music Hall. People will be able to tune in on the Walthamstow Garden Party website, or by using the TuneIn radio app. All content will remain available to listen after the virtual festival weekend via the Walthamstow Garden Party website.

To celebrate the amazing community spirit and all its creativity, all residents and festival participants will be invited out onto their doorsteps to cheer with their neighbours and share their experiences on 19 July at 4pm. Anyone not able to join in person is encouraged to post their content and creations via social media with the official festival hashtag #WGPInTheAir.

Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air is created by local creatives and residents; produced by the Barbican in partnership with London Borough of Waltham Forest. Supported by Arts Council England.