The Bloomsbury Festival 2011
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Bloomsbury is an area of London which evokes an enormous sense of history – the Bloomsbury Set, the British Museum, Blue Plaques on the walls of Georgian townhouses – but in the present day it isn’t really somewhere most Londoners would consider a tangible place to while away a weekend – yes the Bloomsbury Festival shows you just how much the area has to offer…
Sandwiched between the West End and the City, its proximity to the well trodden paths of Tottenham Court Road and Soho, and the transport hubs of Euston and Kings Cross can mean that its subtle charms are easily missed in favour of more obvious destinations; Bloomsbury can lack cohesion and become an area you pass through, but don’t take the time to linger over.
Even as a resident I tend to view the area as a conjunction, and a cycle route, often seeing its many pleasant green spaces as no more than a passing blur from the comfort of my saddle, or I might snatch a jealous glance at patrons of its pavement side cafes and restaurants as I cycle on through to The City.
This weekend’s Bloomsbury Festival sought to change that and showcased this familiar but underrated area of London, encouraging locals to join the dots between Bloomsbury’s many positive attributes.
The area’s museums and galleries, architecture and village-vibe, parks and squares, and the recently spruced-up Brunswick Centre are all worthy of attention, but centre-stage were its quirky and charming independent shopping streets such as as Lambs Conduit Street, Marchmont Street and Store Street which give Bloomsbury a distinctive appeal.
The Festival, now in its sixth year is organised by a group called Hidden Cities, and manages to pack an arty collection of creative and cultural activities into every nook and cranny of Bloomsbury, both indoors and alfresco, from installations of interactive poetry to full scale street parties and showcases the best that Bloomsbury has to offer, reminding us that next time we’re passing through we really should stop and linger, because there’s more to Bloomsbury than just history.
The World According to Bloomsbury
Big Balls: www.bloomsburybowling.com
Small Balls: The Elgin Marbles
Intelligent Thinking: www.theschooloflife.com
Intelligent Drinking: www.newbloomsburyset.co.uk
Traditional Medicine: www.wellcomecollection.org
Alternative Health: www.alara.co.uk
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