The Best Annual London Art and Design Events

The capital is the best place in the UK by far for delivering some top notch quality art/design festivals and events. Where else can you be surrounded by the best in new british talent? You definitely won’t be bored here.

With something to suit everyone, keep your eye out for some of my alternative annual london highlights:

London Design Festival

The Design Festival is an annual event which celebrates London as the creative capital of the world. Set up as a programme of over 200 exhibitions, events and exciting design happenings, this is well worth checking out, as there are plenty of things going on all around the capital during this time. Events include open studios, pop up shops and debates fueled by cupcakes (my favourite!) and other goodies. Welcoming both old and new talent, this festival is highly diverse and at the forefront of design. It’s easy to join as a partner as well, which allows you the freedom to show the world your own creative ideas and plan your own events should you wish to do so.

Bird’s Eye View Film Festival

Before you ask, this unfortunately has nothing to do with Birds Eye fish fingers..however, it is a brilliant alternative film festival – hooray to women filmmakers! Birds Eye View celebrates all that is female and film related. As a registered charity and established in 2002, this festival is growing in stature and reputation as an organization that supports the work of creative women around the world – and what better place to hold it than London. This year the festival was based around BFI Southbank, ICA and Picturehouse Cinemas, but keep a look out for tours happening around the country and the 2010 programme.

London Fashion Week

Famous in it’s own right, I’m pretty sure that any fashion savvy follower would have heard about London Fashion week. However, I did feel it would be rude not to include this on my list! This is the design week made of dreams – featuring high end designers and new talent from around the world. Keeping it British, our own crop of established talent last year included the likes of Louise Goldin, Luella, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood. The catwalk schedule is always amazing and the parties infamous. However this is a difficult festival to walk into unless you’re press, so keep your eyes peeled for anything going the public way. This includes the exhibition, which will relocate to Somerset House from September 2009. Make sure you get your tickets early which normally includes goody bags, and prepare to gawp at all things beautiful and glorious in the name of fashion.

Art Car Boot Fair

This is right down our street here. Set in the heart of the east end at the old Truman Brewery, I think the reviews say it all:

“The hippest car boot sale you’re likely to come across in quite a while” THE INDEPENDENT

“Hang out with some of the best contemporary British artists and pick up a few bargain buys to boot” SUNDAY TIMES, STYLE

Perfect for the credit crunch art fiend, there is entertainment, food and joy to be found in all things arty. With an enviable list of artists that contribute to the fun as well as a line up of live performances and art related bargains to browse, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Look out in particular for the artist commissioned customised cars, organic barbecues and burlesque for a truly alternative east end festival of happiness.

The London International Documentary Festival

The London Documentary Film Festival is a unique event that showcases the best in documentary film making from around the world. Personally, documentaries are a love of mine, and whether you’re old or new to documentaries, there is bound to be something to capture your imagination, or in my case get you a bit weepy.

Now in it’s third year, the festival’s outlook is to capture socially diverse, cultural and political issues within the media of film and with the intention of creating ‘conversation’ between film makers, the public and experts in the field. If you want a challenge, then this is the festival for you.

London Festival of Architecture

As the architecture hub of the UK, London’s Festival of Architecture is a great series of events, talks and exhibitions designed to help novices and experts alike question the city and their surroundings. It’s all about taking a ‘fresh look of London’ – which can sometimes be hard amidst the pollution and madness!

From pavilions and walks to sheep herding and bicycle rides, this a festival with something for everyone. There are also temporary student installations in and round the centre, which helps to celebrate and showcase young architectural talent. If you find architecture dull, check out some of the Festival of Architecture’s programme and get ‘park’itecturing and archiloving! Yes, I can be cheesy..

Annual Graduate shows

Wanting to check out the latest graduate talent from some of the top art and design schools the capital has to offer? Then look no further than the undergraduate and postgraduate shows which happen during the summer of every year. There are normally some brilliant opening exhibition parties to attend, and the shows tend to stay open for the next few weeks afterwards. For example, what better way to celebrate the opening Bartlett show last year than with a jelly banquet complete with jelly wrestling? If you want to see the essence of London eccentricity and madness, these are some of the places to be.