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Hit the water 🌊💦💧 this bank holiday

Boat trips, festivals, music, food and exercise on the Regent's Canal

The imminent May Bank Holiday weekend gives us the perfect excuse to signpost a selection of delights offered on the Regent’s Canal, the working body of water that cuts through the borough with a shimmering strip of aquatic urban calm.

This period marks the point when many of the canal’s modern-day industry returns to life after hunkering down through the chilly challenges of a waterborne London winter.

Write off as ‘just for tourists’ the jolly boat trips and tow-path sorties at your peril, for there are many ways locals can take advantage of this wonderful resource for fun, exercise, enlightenment and much more.

Here are just a few:

🎉 The quintessential celebration of the glorious industrial history of these waterways is surely the Canalway Cavalcade. This year it runs Sat 4th through to Mon 6th May, offering bunting-decked narrowboats, live music, kids activities, loads of food and drinks, plus Sunday night’s famous illuminated procession. It’s all free, all weekend up at Little Venice, and we suggest you walk there along the canal alongside the Zoo, which can often prove a faster passage over to West London than taking the bus.

🛥️ Take a boat trip, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are plenty of different type to choose from. Newish operator The Copper Quay run a premium tour service with food and drinks served on board, plus a programme of live music cruises, too, all from Granary Square steps.
Long Tom sets out from nearby Battlebridge Basin and chugs through the darkness of Islington Tunnel out East to Victoria Park. Look out for their cream tea cruises.
Camden Market sees plenty of operators (ok, these are fairly heavy on the tourists, (especially the Venetian-style gondola and serenading of The Music Boat), but there’s also the iconic Walker’s Quay duo Jenny Wren (which every Camden school kid must surely have been over many decades) and floating restaurant My Fair Lady, plus the Market’s own London Waterbus Company. All these head towards the Zoo and beyond. Or head over to Paddington and catch a ride back home with Jason’s or bring a gaggle of mates on larger party boat The Electric Barge.

🏴‍☠️ Crew your own craft, by hiring a cute GoBoat (from Paddington) for up to 8 people, or try out canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding from The Pirate Castle, surely the closest spot from which to enjoy these watersports when living in central London. Special sessions for women only, men’s mental wellbeing and LGBTQ+ groups are always popular.

📺 Watch it all on the telly. Channel 4 has just started screening Narrow Escapes, a daily series (weekdays at 4pm throughout May) following people from all walks of life living, working and travelling on the UK’s canal network. Camden’s very own Pirate Castle features heavily in the final week, from May 20th.

🍨 Delve into the history, with a visit to the fascinating London Canal Museum in King’s Cross, complete with heritage ice wells from back when the canals brought huge slabs of the stuff all the way from Norway. Canny entrepreneur Carlo Gatti owned this building, and become the person who first introduced ice cream to the masses. Or take one of the Inland Waterway Association’s guided walks where an expert will tell you loads of stories about these wonders of Victorian engineering.

🐟 Take a mini-holiday via lunch or dinner aboard a London Shellco boat. The Prince Regent cruises up to Camden while you slurp oysters and quaff fabulous wine pairings, or for the full a la carte experience, the static Grand Duchess at Paddington offers Cornish dayboat catch and more quality booze.


🍻 Corner 7 is quite the picture

The hub of creativity around Rochester Square has expanded of late, with the addition of Corner 7, a new project space for exhibitions, workshops, lectures and events run by artist Rose Davey.

Her dream was to create a place that would support creativity in Camden, and also to offer temporary accommodation to visiting clay artists working at nearby Rochester Square’s nearby ceramic studio and food gardens.

You can read more about her building’s architectural conversion, from dilapidated bedsit into stunning art space in this RIBA feature.

Meanwhile, check out the monthly life drawing with ceramics classes being run there by local young artist Jake Fisk - the next one is on Monday 6th May.

🎨 Tufnell Park deli The Fields put on regular art exhibitions in their flower kiosk, located right outside the tube station. The new show is by fine art graduate Eloise Tery, and you can see her mural and purchase art whenever the flower stall is open, or via the online shop.

📸 A new show featuring Kentish Town-based photographer Rankin's iconic decade of work for Dazed & Confused magazine opens down at The Strand’s 180 Studios at the end of the month, but tickets are already flying so we advise booking early for Back in the Dazed, Rankin 1991-2001.

👚 Start-up platform Wecandoo aims to bring artisans and enthusiasts together for workshops and fun new experiences, and they’ve got in touch to flag up Camden-based textile dyer Mariana, who runs natural dye technique classes from her studios off Camden Street.

🐖 It's the arts, crafts, maypole dancing and animal extravaganza that is Kentish Town City Farm's Mayday celebrations on Monday (6th), for a wholesome and creative free day out with something for absolutely everyone.

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Pub discounts for a more affordable bank holiday + a guide to eating in NW5

🥘 Think and Do Camden have just launched the Cholo Khā’i Cafe, serving planet-friendly vegan and vegetarian Asian bites made by a team of talented local Bengali women. It’s open every Thursday 8am-4pm at Somers Town Community Association Cafe on Ossulston Street.

🍕 It's Slice Day tomorrow (Say 4th) at Dartmouth Park’s hot new Yard Sale Pizza, where you can drop by to grab free slices (yes!) and Gypsy Hill Brew beers (yes again!) from midday to 4pm, or while stocks last, so don’t sleep…

Camdenist in partnership with

🎭 Performances, pirates and peacocks to check out

Between The Lines

📡 Between The Lines is a powerful new play with music that examines freedom of expression, the strength of community and the foundations of one of Britain's most celebrated subcultures of rebel music - London's vibrant original pirate radio scene. It’s on at the New Diorama Theatre in Euston from Saturday through until 1st June.

👩‍🎤 World class Spanish company of singers The Opera Locos combine physical comedy, pop hits and opera classics at Holborn’s Peacock Theatre (Wed 8th May - Sat 11th) for everyone from opera buffs to those who don’t know their Aida’s from their arias.

🛂 A new satire about being migrant actors in the UK, Miss Brexit features real people dealing with the consequences of the UK’s exit from the EU, which affects their lives in England and their future as performers. It’s on at the Etcetera Theatre this week (5th-6th May) and then Camden People’s Theatre (29th-31st).

🎤 Upstairs at the Camden Eye every single Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night you can enjoy a full bill of stand-up for only £3. Comedy In Your Eye features established comedians and upcoming talent


🎶Live and local this Bank Holiday weekend

Eek-A-Mouse at the Jazz Cafe

⭐ There’s a Texan music hoe-down at Belsize Park’s lively Sir Richard Steele tonight (3rd May) with Tommy Hare’s Soul Cowboys and Ash Grey playing an acid-fueled, country rock, road trip songs infused with heartache and wild rides.

🐭 Reggae dancehall star Eek-A-Mouse is back at the Jazz Cafe on Saturday (4th), bringing his distinctive scatting vocal style to the bank holiday weekend proceedings.

A proper pub jam led by local legend Whiskey Mick is always a joy to behold, and this weekend (Sat 4th) he’s playing a free acoustic brunch session from 3pm at Camden Assembly on Chalk Farm Rd.

🎶 Weaving together a global soundscape that reflects the nuances and complexities of her mixed Zambian and Scottish heritage, singer songwriter Namvula transports listeners into different worlds at The Green Note on Sunday 5th.


📊 This week’s 1-click poll

We've been running regular theatre and comedy listings as well as the usual live music gigs for a few weeks now - so what do you think of the current format?

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Is Thomas Heatherwick right about the wellbeing catastrophe of 'boring' buildings?

Yes! We need much more daring architecture in this city
🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️ 42%

No! He's just being a right show-off
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 14%

Maybe! But there are more important things to fix first
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 44%

Some of your comments:

Yes! “Although interesting architecture doesn’t have to be aligned with Heatherwick’s view of it!”

No! “Thomas Heatherwick was responsible for the dreadful design of the London double decker buses that I guess he never uses. Made the windows like a bicycle visor so the wonderful light filled views have been reduced to that seen by a mole. Created a heat trap by putting in windows that don't open which had to be refitted at great expense to TFL / the taxpayer and put those ridiculous seats in on the bottom floor, designed to look like a 19th century wagon which wastes space and makes everyone uncomfortable facing the wrong way and crushed in like sardines. Sure the design looks ok but practically its useless and Londoners have to put up with them for 14 years till the contract runs out. The man’s an idiot and shouldn't be given a platform to voice his opinions ever.”

Maybe! “By all means design innovative and pretty buildings, but it doesn't matter what a building looks like if it's just flats that only the mega wealthy can afford, shopping outlets or offices no one is in more than 3 days a week.”

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