On Saturday 21st July, Alexandra Park and Palace played host to an exciting new festival, set across the beautiful grounds and historic palace with the backdrop of the London skyline. The iconic location was the perfect setting for festival-goers to enjoy the summer celebration and there was something for everyone across the day.
The Flaming Lips headline set was a visual spectacular, incorporating giant unicorns with a spectrum of lights and confetti, showcasing a back catalogue of hits such as “Flight Test” and “Do you realize??”. The main stage, perfectly positioned with all of London as the backdrop, was graced with performances from the American psychedelic rock pioneers, who were preceded by a resonant sung-spoken set from Ghostpoet as well indie-rockers Mystery Jets. There was also the action-packed show from The Go! Team, stunning folktronica courtesy of Beth Orton as well as London African Gospel Choir’s stunning rendition of Paul Simon’s classic, Graceland. Providing the soundtrack at Cloud 10 up on the terrace were DJ sets from legendary DJs Norman Jay MBE, and Don Letts that had festival-goers of all ages up and dancing.
The multidisciplinary programming featured a dedicated Words & Comedy stage playing host to sharp tongued comedians and thought-provoking talks, debate and spoken word. Northern punk legend Dr. John CooperClarke delivered a slew of captivating lines in effortless fashion, there was also the hilarious Katherine Ryan and Mark Watson whose respective performances incorporated plenty of observational humour with dry wit.
Meanwhile, Fringe favourite Andrew Maxwell previewed a hint of what to expect in Edinburgh. Literary collective Caught By The River inspired with their talks of nature, art and the great outdoors while Funzing Talkswelcomed Annie Machon, Carne Ross and Beate Peter to the stage for more thought-provoking conversation. There was also the musical satire of Johnny & The Baptist, with stand-up poetry courtesy of Bang Said The Gun and swirling rhythmic poetry from Mike Garry.
In the rarely-opened Victorian Basements, RIFT took over the space to create a theatrical experience like no other, inviting festival-goers on an immersive escape, deep beneath the palace. The piece took inspiration from Alexandra Palace’s place in history as the birthplace of television. Audience members became extras in Oberon Studio’s fledgling production: “Pyramus & Thisbe” as well as taking in performances on a hidden cabaret stage.
Providing refreshments were the likes of Kalmira dishing out mouth-watering Greek wraps, the original mac and cheese truck traders, Anna Mae’s, and for the plant-based festival goers, Bow Belly.
Speaking about the festival, Kaleidoscope founder Simon Fell said: “It’s been amazing to see so many people of all ages enjoying such a diverse mix of music, theatre, comedy and performing arts this weekend. And what better place to do so than in one of the most beautiful locations in London – we heard many people saying every festival should take place on a hill! There have been so many highlights, The Flaming Lips headline set was incredible, Rift Theatre’s takeover of the basement was very special and John Cooper Clarke made a welcome return to the palace after his last performance in 1980. Something magical took place on Saturday and we can’t wait to welcome people back next year.”