It’s September, back-to-school month! Whether you’re dusting off those trainers after a long leisurely summer or aren’t quite ready to wave the party goodbye, Vauxhall’s got the event for you. From deep dives into local history, thought-provoking queer discussions, long charity walks and bike rides, to boozy festivals, cabaret, and plays, there’s something to suit every mood and motivation.
Hidden in plain sight all along the streets of London are the stories of women who’ve helped shape the course of history. On this free pay-what-you-can walking tour, you’ll be led to the key monuments, statutes, and memorials of prominent women of the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst and Florence Nightingale. As you wander through Lambeth and Westminster, your guide will talk you through the lives of these trailblazers, tracing their achievements through tales of war, disease, murder, suicide, as well as their often unjust and misogynistic treatment. It’s a great way to brush up on your history while getting to know the neglected corners of neighbouring boroughs.
1.00pm – 3.30pm | Outside Lambeth Palace, SE1 7LB | Pay what you can
Get your tightest, brightest lycra out for the queerest bike ride in town! Starting in Vauxhall the ride will take you through the best queer spots in London. Starting at the RVT, it’s an education in all things queer, and you get your cardio in too! The event is organised by London (C=L=A=R=I=O=N<) Cycle Club, a friendly and diverse group that organises rides throughout the year. Membership is £15 and gives you the opportunity to surround yourself with like-minded people exploring some of the most beautiful parts of the country. Past events have included night rides to Brighton, cycling and camping weekends, Monopoly, and treasure hunt rides. It’s also worth signing up ahead of their Essex Lanes ride on 16th September which includes a visit to the oldest wooden church in the world, Greensted Church.
10.00am – 2.00pm | Royal Vauxhall Tavern, SE11 5HY | £15 for membership
This two-part walking tour takes you on a leisurely stroll through Vauxhall and sheds light on the lesser-known stories and histories of your local borough. Over the course of a mile and a half, Geoff Fairbairn will lead you through the long-forgotten tales, neglected details, and quirky characters that make up Vauxhall’s rich history. The second walk will provide the answers to some burning historical questions, conundrums, and mysteries. Who was it that had a private railway station in Vauxhall? Where exactly was the first free lending library in Vauxhall? And who invoked the wrath of anti-vivisectionists? Learn all of this and more whilst properly exploring the sights you go past every day.
2.00pm – 3.30pm | Vauxhall Bus Station, SW8 2LN | £12
Bold, electrifying, and unique, David Hoyle takes to the stage for the second show of his brand new four-part series, Atelier. Having performed on stages worldwide, dazzled on screen, and appeared on his own Channel 4 TV series, the all-singing performance legend returns to his spiritual home, the RVT, to turn his hand to a creative workshop where art and love come together to heal the wounds of a modern world. Described as ‘the greatest living performer’ by Justin Vivian Bond, Hoyle is also the winner of ‘ICON’ and ‘ORIGINALITY’ at the QX Awards 2019. Tickets for the following two shows on 12th October and 9th November will be available on the night.
7.00pm – 12.00am | Royal Vauxhall Tavern, SE11 5HY | £12
This exhibition unites emerging and established artists to explore the untold stories and complexities of the black British experience. By delving into the duality of heritage; ambiguity and ambivalence are celebrated and embraced as opposing but powerful aspects of identity. Ambivalent Paradox unravels the enigma of life in the UK whilst being a celebration of creativity and diversity. The 11 featured artists include Brianna Lois Parker, Kwesi Awotwi, and Sani Sani. The private view is free to attend and the exhibition itself is accompanied by a series of workshops across the course of 3-4 weeks.
5.00pm – 10.00pm | Omaka Gallery, SE11 5JA | Free
After a summer of big voices and even bigger personalities, the final outdoor karaoke event of the year is here! Don’t miss the opportunity to take to the stage and sing your heart out to your favourite feel-good bangers at the Pleasure Gardens before autumn kicks in. With refreshing drinks from Mother Kelly’s beer collection, it’s your last chance to grab friends, family, and the dog for an afternoon filled with sun, music, and the last of the summer vibes. The event is free to attend but don’t forget to pre-register for a ticket on Eventbrite.
4.00pm – 8.00pm | Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, SE11 5HL | Free
Whether you’ve lived in Vauxhall for decades or have just recently moved into the area, it’s well worth taking the time to explore the borough by foot. The midweek bustle, tube, and bus journeys aren’t quite made for discovering all the greening corners the area has to offer. Luckily, Incredible Edible Lambeth has joined forces with TFL to offer a series of free guided community walks to get people outside and explore their local area. It’s the ideal opportunity to meet new people, get some light exercise, and discover places right under your nose!
11.00am – 12.30pm | Garden Museum, SE1 7LB | Free
University College London Hospitals’ annual walk along the River Thames is back. For 25 years, the sponsored walk has been Haematology Cancer Care’s flagship event and raises funds for the crucial work that goes on behind closed doors. Starting at the Pleasure Gardens, the whole route spans six bridges but is open to all ages and abilities with the option to join wherever suits best. Registration is free on Eventbrite and all walkers receive a bespoke t-shirt, walking map, and notes for the day. If you’re unable to join the main event, you’re more than welcome to create your own Bridgathon Local and support the cause from afar.
11.00am – 3.30pm | Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, SE11 5HL | Free
At the beginning of this year, professional photojournalist Bhargav Shandilya equipped members of a women’s garment collective in Tirupur, India, with newfound photography skills and cameras. Over the course of three months, the women took to documenting their lives and experiences as homeworkers in the garment supply chain. This exhibition presents those photographs and documents the challenges and benefits of homeworking in fashion. Between 2pm-5pm and 5:30pm-7pm, the photographs and women’s descriptions will be available in the Foundry’s Conference Room alongside two videos that will explain more about homeworking and this method of photography, before closing with a short talk at 6:30pm.
2.00pm – 7.00pm | The Foundry, SE11 5RR | Free
Queer landmark institutions – Gay’s the Word Bookshop and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern – have joined forces in support of a brand new festival. The first of its kind, Queer Minds hosts a series of informative and thought-provoking conversations, bringing together LGBTQ+ voices, allies, and activists to engage in discussions of issues affecting the lives of the LGBTQ+ community. The event is made up of four sessions with breaks in between for conversation and drinks, in which panelists from a range of specialisms and experiences share their thoughts on history, politics, and literature. As well as hosting an in-depth interview with Orwell Prize Winner for Political Fiction, Tom Crewe, there will be an opportunity to learn about London’s queer history, the journey to putting a stop to HIV in the UK and celebrating trans and non-binary joy.
1.00pm – 7.00pm | Royal Vauxhall Tavern, SE11 5HY | £10
Summer’s creeping away but the fun doesn’t have to! This boozy festival at The Oval brings some of the best guest distillers from around the country with free samples of over 120 of the highest quality gin and rum from the UK and around the world. Be led by one of the festival’s expert guides and taste your way through the stalls whilst soaking up the atmosphere from award-winning DJs and live entertainment. As well as having a free drink Included in the ticket price, you’ll also be given a collectible stainless steel Gin & Run Festival tumbler and reusable stainless steel straw, a branded satchel, and a moreish crunchy snack from Love Corn. Even if gin and rum aren’t quite your thing, the cocktail bar is at the ready serving a selection of delicious cocktails, authentic sipping tequila, beer, and fizz – it’s a no-brainer.
1.00pm – 7.00pm | The Kia Oval, SE11 5SS | £15
You’ve heard the story before but you’ve never seen it like this. This one-man, two-act play has toured venues across England and America, and gives its audience a taste of what it might be like to have been subjected to an ‘audience’ with King Henry VIII. The play catches the King just as he has recently married his sixth wife, Queen Catherine Parr, and is suffering from a bad leg that leaves him in a foul mood. Throughout the course of the ‘audience’, the monarch tells tales from the course of his reign, recounting wives, children, and major events. Unique to the show is the opportunity to question His Majesty on absolutely anything. Brace yourself for some unexpected answers!
8.00pm – 10.00pm | Tea House Theatre, SE11 5HL | £15
Put scientific knowledge to good use and get the kids fermenting their own delicious and healthy pickled vegetables. This free, drop-in session for children upwards of 14 demystifies the processes of lacto-fermentation, giving kids the tools to be able to make their very own kraut from home. The session will be led by Clare Heal, chef, cookery teacher, writer, and founder of Sycamore Smyth. As well as getting the opportunity to learn directly from a self-taught fermentarian, they’ll also leave with their very own jar of pickled goodness and instructions on how to nurture it to perfection. This session is part of the Garden Museum’s series of free events and activities exploring gardening, art, floristry, plant science, history, and design, so keep an eye out on their website if you’re looking for more like this.
11.00am – 2.00pm | Garden Museum, SE1 7LB | Free