Festivals and events are ten a penny in London.
From the beautiful wedding hotels in London offering dazzling private events throughout the year, to the midsummer madness of British Summer Time Music Festival, there’s something unique to try on every weekend in the city. Whether you’re on the lookout for a spoken word event or some foot-stomping musical madness, you don’t have to go far.
But finding something truly unique is another matter entirely. With many festivals and events offering the same old music and street food, seasoned city guests could yawn in boredom at their second year of Proms in the Park visits, or another Sunday jolly to Columbia Road Flower Market. Entertainment is one thing, individualism is another. How the Light Gets In is a festival that champions both.
What is How The Light Gets In?
How The Light Gets In is a festival which has been held in a variety of locations since its establishment in 2009. The festival itself is a blend of music and other performing arts, as well as talks and lectures from established public figures, artists and intellectuals, all focused on a yearly theme that poses important philosophical questions.
With its first few bases being set in the England-Wales border town of Hay on Wye, How The Light Gets in saw a range of themes including “Being Human” in 2010 and “New Gods: Icons and Ideas in a Changed World” in 2011. These editions saw the likes of Phillip Pullman and Jez Butterworth, both writers, take the stage, alongside poet Simon Armitage and critical theorist Leela Gandhi delivering talks.
This year sees the festival hit London’s Hampstead Heath, inviting a range of performances and talks that include philosopher Slavoj Zizek and politician Rory Stewart. Located on the estate of stately home Kenwood House, the beautiful London park scenery surrounding the festival may have played a part in its selling out. However, the festival will return again next year to either Hay on Wye or Kenwood House.
This year will see the likes of DJ Don Letts, Sam and the Womp and singer-songwriters such as Olivia Fern and Austel take to three different music venues. These include the Hat Stage, large scale Arena and acoustic set staging bookshop-cum-cafe, the Stage. With a range of genres playing, the festival has a laid back atmosphere when it comes to music, blending finely into the other performances taking place. The festival is so packed with talent, that you’ll probably want to book yourself a room in the city for the night so that you can enjoy it all. Our top pick is Montcalm Hotel London City– your guaranteed luxury and you’re well-placed to get around the city with ease.
Speakers at this year’s festival include music wizard Brian Eno and Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats between 2017 and 2019. Alongside the debates and lectures, you can find the IAI Academy and school, which teaches philosophical doctrines in manageable and accessible chunks.
Comedians at How The Light Gets In include Fringe Festival star Olga Koch, surreal standup Tony Law, and Mock the Week Writer Alex Kealy. Amongst others, these unique stand-ups take their personal brands of irreverent humour and lighten up the often heavy subject matter of the talks and debates.