Fun of the festivals: Four of the best art festivals around the UK this summer

Published 20 June 2016

Summer is the season when artists let their hair down and get seriously creative as a string of art festivals springs up in cities across the UK. RA magazine follows the trail

  • Bob and Roberta Smith, Art Party Parade

    Bob and Roberta Smith, Art Party Parade.

    Photo by Benedict Johnson.

  • A day at the Royal Academy...

    On a sizzling day last July, the inaugural RA Burlington Gardens Festival brought the Mayfair street behind the Academy alive with performances, artworks, artisan food and drink stalls and live music – including an Art Party Parade led by Bob & Roberta Smith RA. This year’s festivities (2 July, 12–6pm), which accompany Brown’s London Art Weekend, celebrate Yinka Shonibare RA’s colourful, imagistic installation across the Academy’s façade.

  • Alexandra Bachzetsis, From A to B via C

    Alexandra Bachzetsis, From A to B via C, 2014.

    Performance. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Then a night in the West End...

    When the music stops at Burlington Gardens on 2 July, art-lovers can take to the streets of Westminster as part of Art Night. This new annual festival features for-one-night-only art installations and performances in unusual locations – a luxury flat on the Strand, a disused station platform at Charing Cross and NeoGothic mansion Two Temple Place, which is taken over by choreographer Alexandra Bachzetsis.

  • Barbara Rae RA, Spring Tide, Lacken

    Barbara Rae RA, Spring Tide, Lacken, 2015.

    Courtesy of Open Eye Gallery.

  • Before a month in Edinburgh...

    There is more to an Edinburgh summer than theatre and comedy, as visitors to the city’s art galleries can discover. The Edinburgh Art Festival (28 July–28 Aug), now in its 13th year, sees significant exhibitions staged at the same time as the main festival, including the first Scottish survey of acclaimed American portraitist Alice Neel at Talbot Rice Gallery, a Fruitmarket Gallery show of Mexican artist Damián Ortega’s spectacular sculptures of found objects, and the lyrical landscapes of Barbara Rae RA at Open Eye Gallery.

  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Jesus and Barabbas Puppet Show

    Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Jesus and Barabbas Puppet Show, 2014.

    Film. Courtesy of Cricoteka, Krakow and Sadie Coles HQ, London.

  • And a biennial in Liverpool

    This year’s Liverpool Biennial (9 July–16 Oct) invites international artists to make new work in response the city’s past, present and future. Childhood is a key theme: Japanese-born Koki Tanaka re-enacts, with the help of original participants, 1985 protests by school children against the Youth Training Scheme, while young people produce a film with British performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.


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