A Vibrant Summer Festival Has Launched at Somerset House

By Ellie Smith

2 years ago

From vogue balls to street food and sensory gardens, This Bright Land is all about sparking joy

This summer, the courtyard of Somerset House is being transformed into a festival-style wonderland, complete with an eclectic programme of music, dance, workshops and more. It’s all part of This Bright Land, a cultural celebration designed to champion the spirit and strength of community. 

Created by artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl, the festival features day-to-night entertainment, with an array of installations and interactive experiences to explore. Jo Malone London has helped create a Wonder Garden filled with spaces dedicated to wellness and self-care, while a striking 35m Observation Wheel offers spectacular views of the city skyline. Each gondola of the wheel is home to a new audio sound installation, capturing the stories of Londoners from all walks of life.

This Bright Land at Somerset House

Weekends will be jam-packed with exciting events, including themed Saturday night open-air Vogue Balls, staged in collaboration with London’s weekly Voguing night Vogue Rites. Here, performers and house members will compete for trophies and unique prizes in an outdoor extravaganza of dance, fashion and music. 

Friday nights, meanwhile, will see parties hosted by creative collectives like Daytimers and ESEA Sisters – kicking off with an event on 5 August from Nine Nights, which focuses on platforming Black talent. 

A woman at This Bright Land at Somerset House

Image by Ben Queensborough

And on Sundays, street parties open to all ages will explore ideas relating to race, gender, sexuality and disability through live art, workshops and in-conversation events. Hosting the first on 7 August is acclaimed drag collective Drag Syndrome, who will be putting on a spectacular show from drag Queens and Kings with Down Syndrome. All this will culminate with a final party on 28 August choreographed by Patrick Ziza, centred around dandyish fashions. Visitors will be invited to move and dance, learn how to pose, and enjoy talks on the history of African fashion.

This Bright Land at Somerset House

Image by Ben Queensborough

Elsewhere, plenty of beauty brands will be in residence, putting on a series of sensory pop-ups. Forest Essentials is presenting a sensorial relaxation space where visitors can try a curated selection of products alongside Ayurvedic experts, while Bobbi Brown is offering complimentary makeovers in its ‘Studio Glow’. 

There are plenty of child-friendly activities too, from a site-wide treasure hunt to group games and, of course, the famous fountains, where little ones can cool down in the summer sunshine.

Food at Somerset House

On the food side of things, festival goers will have plenty of choice thanks to an outdoor market curated by Black Eats LDN, which champions culinary delights from Black-owned businesses across the capital. Food spans a range of cuisines, from Caribbean to South American and African, with plenty for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners. Alongside this, Bombay Sapphire will be on hand to serve up gin cocktails.

This Bright Land runs from 1 – 29 August 2022. somersethouse.org.uk

Main image: Photo by Chloe Hashemi. Courtesy of Somerset House.


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