London is one of the most famous cities in the world and with nearly 9 million inhabitants and over 1,000 years of history, it has become well known for its eclectic mix of cultural experiences. Usually if visitors want to delve into London’s culture, they will head to the centre of the city where there are museums, art galleries, the best London restaurants and a range of historical sites to explore but, this year, the Mayor of London has announced that Waltham Forest will be the become the cultural hub of the city for 2019.
In 2017, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, created The Mayor’s London Borough of Culture award which was brought in to provide two boroughs with over £1 million to hold a range of activities and cultural events for an entire year. For the year 2019, Waltham Forest was given the honour and began in January with Welcome to the Forest, an audio-visual film that explored the past, present and future of the borough. Created by local artists Greenaway & Greenaway with the help of local musicians Addictive TV, it was a celebration of the diverse communities that live and trade in Waltham Forest.
Waltham Forest is situated in North-East London and can be reached via the Victoria line and the Overground, both of which are easily accessible from the Grand Hotel Hyde Park. It has a deep history with many archaeological finds that date back to the Stone and the Roman Age as well as a direct link to the First World War where two Zeppelins killed 18 people in the area. The borough was known as the seat of the Arts and Crafts Movement which was led by William Morris and so it seems only fitting that Waltham Forest is now the hub of culture for 2019 with tourists and residents alike being able to enjoy the plethora of events that are being held throughout the year, including the Waltham Forest Jazz Festival in February; an incredible display of African and Western music in Africa Express: Together towards the end of March and the Chingford May Day Fayre in May.
From the middle of the year, the sole focus is on art beginning with an Art Night on the 22nd June. This is a free all-night art festival that showcases the local artistry who will be using their commissions to highlight the identity and culture of Waltham Forest through their work. June through to December will see the Bauhaus Centenary at the William Morris Gallery which offers a huge exhibition as well as an artist’s residency for all art lovers to peruse. For those who prefer films to art, the Leytonstone Loves Film takes place in September and offers the chance to view local and international films all around Waltham Forest itself for a unique experience that will allow you to truly appreciate the beauty of the borough.