How Walthamstow Garden Party is helping families get creative during lockdown

8/3/2020 1:10:43 PM
How Walthamstow Garden Party is helping families get creative during lockdown
Fantasic For Families
  • Gar Powell-Evans

Walthamstow Garden Party has made this year's shortlist for our Best Family Event Award for their most recent event. Here they tell why this annual party has always been about creating something for everyone to enjoy.

We’re delighted Walthamstow Garden Party’s been shortlisted for Best Family Event at the Fantastic for Families Awards 2020. Families come in all shapes and sizes and our festival, powered by the ideas and creativity of local Waltham Forest residents, has always been about creating something for everyone to enjoy.

For six years, Walthamstow Garden Party has taken place in beautiful Lloyd Park with music, theatre, circus, spoken word and crafts from extraordinary local artists and organisations alongside an international Barbican Music Stage. The two-day festival is free and more than 30,000 people join in the fun. Last year, over 500 children also participated in the festival in some way – from performing to helping with programming or production.

So how can you and your family get involved? With a programme packed full of family-friendly activities there is lots to choose from but one highlight is always Fellowship Island.


This vibrant area of the festival – curated by local arts organisation Artillery – celebrates two of the things most important to us: community and sustainability.

Last year, Fellowship Island transformed into Grandad’s Island, the much-loved children’s book by local author/illustrator, Benji Davies. In the lead up to the festival local artists worked with schools to create the site décor. Over the festival weekend children gathered here to join parades, sing, create, paint, play, learn about sustainability and hear stories inspired by the book’s themes.

Another highlight is Art for All, our dedicated area for under-7s, entirely programmed by local families. Residents were invited to submit activity or workshop ideas before we, together with Walthamstow Toy Library and Play Centre, held decision-making sessions for local children and families to select their favourites. Last year this resulted in a brilliant mix of children’s yoga, pottery, puppetry, storytelling, music, outdoor play activities, sensory play and more.

Family-friendly arts and crafts activities are also on offer at the Useful & Beautiful tent and you can watch unforgettable performances from children and young people on our News from Nowhere stage and Earthly Paradise Tent including local dance academy X7eaven and Walthamstow Youth Circus.

Oasis zone curated by Muslim Cultural Forum

‘There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere at Walthamstow Garden Party and we were delighted to see how many other families there are in the area.’ Local parent, 2019

What's happening this year and how can I get involved?

Sadly, this year Walthamstow Garden Party wasn’t able go ahead due to Covid-19. Despite this, we knew we needed to find a way to continue to reach families and keep the festival’s spirit alive.

But how to transform a live festival into something people can enjoy from home? Meet Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air.

This free community-powered programme has been developed by the Barbican and local creative organisations to encourage you and your family to get creative at home.

One of the best things about Walthamstow Garden Party is the incredible network of local artists, residents and organisations (our festival family, if you like) who help make it happen each year. And another bonus of reimagining our event was that we could continue to fund local artists, makers and creatives during these tough times.

All activities can be accessed via the Walthamstow Garden Party website. Highlights include 'kimono' kite making with Blackhorse Workshop; air twig loom weaving with Rezia Wahid MBE from the Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum; and the chance to make your own bird sculpture with Esther Neslen and the William Morris Gallery. We’re encouraging everyone to post their creations via social media using our hashtag #WGPInTheAir.

Plus, throughout the weekend of 18 and 19 July, East London Radio will broadcast music, discussions and activities from our friends, hosted by local hip hop artist and mentor Lemzi and Sam Francis from X7eaven. You can listen via our website (both during and after the weekend), at or by using the Tune In radio app.

Join in the fun at:

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.

See the full Fantastic for Families Awards shortlist What now? Find events near you, online-events, or activities to do at home with kids.

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