Kensington and Chelsea Festival

Kensington and Chelsea Festival

Showcasing amazing performances and bringing people together

Kensington and Chelsea Festival – Returning for the third year the festival will be showcasing amazing performances and bringing people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired, a celebration of creativity and culture for everyone.

Spanning the summer – from Saturday 1 July to Thursday 31 August 2023 – the Kensington and Chelsea Festival will take place across the borough in a reimagining of its spaces. From the best-known cultural venues to the less-discovered areas and outdoor spaces, Kensington and Chelsea Festival will make use of every inch of the borough to host a multitude of live art performances, large and small, showcasing exceptional established artists alongside the very best emerging talent.

With a cultural offering that spans theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, family shows, participatory activities, talks, walks and public art pieces, the festival was born out of a desire to lift spirits by celebrating culture and creativity.

Run and funded by Kensington and Chelsea Council the festival was established in 2021 with a firm goal of ensuring the myriad events offer everyone in the borough and beyond a chance to experience the widest variety of culture on their doorsteps.

Here is your opportunity to have some fun and experience something new, alone, with friends or with a family group.

Festival’s main programme highlights

Kensington and Chelsea Festival

Luke Jeram’s Mars: War & Peace: One of the most exciting projects to appear at the Festival will be Mars: War & Peace, the touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the artwork features 120 dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Martian surface. At an approximate scale of 1:1 million, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 10 kilometres of the surface of Mars.

The artwork allows us to view Mars from the air, as though we are a satellite mapping and studying the surface in perfect detail. Every valley, crater, volcano, and mountain are laid bare for us to inspect.   We are transported to this desert wasteland, to imagine what it’s like to step foot on this incredible planet and in comparison, really value our life on Earth.

Mars was named by the ancient Romans for their god of war because its reddish colour was reminiscent of blood. Accompanying the Mars sculpture is a specially created sound composition by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Dan Jones. Featuring the sounds of seas, deserts, and clips from NASA missions to Mars, it also incorporates the sounds of distant bombing and people marching, as if to war. This new soundtrack allows viewers the opportunity to reflect on the current conflict in Ukraine and the history and notion of war.

Mars: War & Peace follows on from my other touring astronomical artworks Museum of the Moon and Gaia, allowing a close encounter with the Martian planet. Presented with a new soundtrack for the first time at Kensington & Chelsea Festival, I hope that visitors will feel transported to its inhospitable desert wasteland, whilst also being faced to contemplate the bleak realities of war on our planet.”

 – Luke Jerram

The installation is a fusion of Mars imagery, light, and surround sound composition. Each venue also programmes its own series of events to contemplate not just the beauty of the red planet and the wonder of space science, but also to highlight injustice and the effects of war.

Mars follows the hugely successful appearance of Luke Jerram’s previous works at the Kensington and Chelsea Festival each attracted up to 3,000 visitors per day. This summer will be the first time that Mars has been installed in a Church setting and a new soundscape has been created especially for the festival.

Extensive Outdoor Arts Programme: Another key exciting strand to the festival’s programme is its extensive and free-to-attend outdoor art programme, which has been carefully curated to be suitable for – and appeal to – all ages.

The Chelsea Theatre 

The Chelsea Theatre and Kensington and Chelsea Festival launch an annual Open Call each year to enable 18 fringe shows to be presented at the Theatre over the summer. These are professional companies delivering work to audiences on a “Pay What You Want” basis, with a guaranteed fee from the festival. Content ranges from theatre to music, spoken word to dance. Programme announced shortly.

Notting Hill Carnival in Holland Park

A return of one of the most popular collaborations from last year’s festival sees Notting Hill Carnival bring together two of West London’s most well-loved musical institutions for Carnival Culture in the Park; four nights of calypso, Steelpan and Caribbean jazz during Notting Hill Carnival with support from the festival.

The Festival programme is updated each week. For more information visit here.

Poppy Watt

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