City of London Festival opens

The City of London Festival opened the market at London Stock Exchange with a song for the first time in history, to mark its annual launch. A combined office choir, featuring singers from various City organisations including the Bank of England, sported bowler hats to sing ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ from Mary Poppins to bring in the opening bell. New Festival Director Paul Gudgin conducted the choir for this historic occasion. 

Outside London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square is the Festival’s ground-breaking new iconic theatre in the shape of a bowler hat. The inflatable pop-up venue presents a diverse programme for a wide audience, from families to financiers. Standing at over 10 metres high – the equivalent of 3 storeys – the bespoke Bowler Hat is playing host to more than 100 events, including children’s theatre, cabaret, comedy and circus. Each year the Festival uses about 50 City buildings new and old as its event venues including St Paul's Cathedral and The Gherkin; the new 212-seat theatre is the first venue the Festival has owned itself.     

The Festival is entering an exciting new era under the directorship of Paul Gudgin, who saw the Edinburgh Fringe Festival double in scale during his 8-year tenure as Festival Director. This summer the 52-year-old City of London Festival is animating the Square Mile in new and exciting ways, enjoying a new lease of life. 

The Festival features an innovative, eclectic programme of music, dance, spoken word and street performance. It will, as always, be a celebration of the City, its architecture, skyline and streets, and its energy, stories and relationships with the rest of the world. Over its 52 years, the Festival has brought the world's finest artistic talents to the Square Mile, commissioned and premiered artworks, animated remarkable spaces not normally open to the public, welcomed children to its annual Parade, placed pianos on the streets of London, and hosted stimulating debates and discussion. 

The Festival runs from 22 June - 23 July 2014. Visit colf.org for more details.