This July, Urban Elephant, a FREE festival celebrating the arts and community is coming to Elephant and Castle, in a bid to put the Zone 1 area well known for its cultural diversity and historically being the Piccadilly of the South, firmly on the map making it a key destination for Londoners to visit.
Taking place across the last weekend of July on the 29th, 30th and 31st, the festival will highlight the best in street art and performances from around the world. Using creative interventions to connect the new and old high streets of the fast-changing area, the animated festival will bring to life the vibrant high streets of Castle Square, Nursery Road Park, Walworth Square, Bagshot Street, Sayer Street, Elephant Park, HEJ , and Elephant Arcade.
Visitors can expect a colorful and vibrant mix of street theater, circus, dance and art, by both world-renowned professional street theater performers as well as local community art groups to celebrate the various cultures and talent in the area.
Acts to watch out for, across the weekend, include Internationally-recognized clown and acrobatic group Ballet Hooligan, who have recently toured Asia-Pacific, Felicity Footlooseaerial circus performers, Mr Bones puppetry and The Tom Show comedy unicycle.
The festivities will kick off at Castle Square on Friday 29th July, where there will be free children’s art workshops hosted by local community groups. This will be followed by Latin American music and dance program Serenata Latina, which will perform for the crowds until the evening alongside a DJ. The dance performances will include traditional salsa as well as Yuruparí, originating from the Colombian coffee region.
On Saturday and Sunday (30th and 31st July) guests can expect to see a host of activities in many locations across Elephant and Castle where there will be something for everyone to enjoy, from live music to unicyclists. And if you want to bust a move you can get inspired from a host of different dance performers including Urban, African, Latino, and tap dancing. For the full line-up please visit urbanelephant.org.uk.
The Festival has been co-curated by two creatives in the local community, Artistic Director of The People’s Company, John Whelan, who has worked across London and Liverpool delivering theater and community arts. Alongside Mike Raffone, who has vast entertainment experience with comedy and circus, and has toured nationally and internationally as a street performer.
Together, in conjunction with the Elephant and Castle Business Forum – a partnership of local firms, retailers, and art and cultural venues, established by the Elephant and Castle Town Center team – they want to promote business and increase trade in the area. Their ambition, working with Southwark Council on their High Street Challenge, is for the Urban Elephant Festival to bring the community back onto the high streets and kickstart the local economy after the tough few years that independent traders have had.