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All you need to know about the new festival in King's Cross

Plus, we ate at The Constitution to ponder the return of a cherished local pub

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There’s just a month to go before Camden becomes home to a brand new 4-day summit of sustainability, e-mobility and other climate-friendly innovation - Earthfest - and best of all, locals are invited to come along and enjoy it for FREE.

Over the weekend of 20th-21st April, the entire King’s Cross estate, and key neighbouring destinations such as the British Library and Camley Street Natural Park, will play host to a programme of workshops, talks, art, eco fashion, a live music stage, a large innovation expo and even the chance to test drive the latest electric bikes.

It’s being put on by the people at Camden Clean Air Initiative, and features loads of locally-based companies and social enterprises, ready to surprise you with new and fun ways to make life more sustainable, at a time when we all know it really is vital.


Musicians and DJs are supporting their local pubs

Perhaps some of your favourite recording artists are fervent Camdenist readers 😉, as there seems to have been a welcome flurry of ‘on message’ activity in recent weeks following the launch of the Camdenist Culture Campaigns, as multiple musicians mobilise to support their favourite pubs.

Biggest splash of the week was the ‘secret’ free live gig from alt-punk superstar Yungblud, who popped up in the heart of Camden Market and announced his very own festival, which will debut this summer.

Alongside acts like Lil Yachty, Soft Play and Yungblud himself on stage, the artist has decided to build a replica of his favourite boozer, Camden Town’s The Hawley Arms, out in the fields at the festival.

You can see him sat upstairs with a pint at the iconic pub in this exclusive new NME interview, too:

It was also really good to see the large sunken space in North Yard (currently shuttered by the departure of the short-lived Tomb Raider Experience) being used in this high profile way.

The Camden ‘amphitheatre’ has great potential as a showcase spot, and a crop of Insta videos of Yungblud cavorting around it in his tight PVC trousers can only have a positive impact on the position of the area as relevant to younger artists, not just heritage acts.

Alongside this, currently popping-up all over the shop, DJs who more commonly play stadium-sized gigs are throwing parties in pubs, attracting the hordes out to support the cause, as reported in more detail here:

There’s something very special about a Great British pub rave, and if things get a little too hectic, you can always spill out into the street, right? Talking of which, look out for the Homebass guys, who take things inside out, and duly help the nearby Elephants Head do some brisk trade when they quite literally drop in to occasionally roadblock Buck Street with their wild jump-up scenes.

Elsewhere in nighttime news this week, Night Tzar Amy Lame’s poorly received recent comments calling London a ‘24-hour city’ rapidly spiraled from online exasperation (complete with photos of empty pre-midnight streets in the West End) to piquing the mainstream news agenda for a hot moment.

This included a feature in The Times entitled ‘Everything shuts at 11: how it’s all gone Pete Tong for London nightlife’ and a front page of the Evening Standard, none of which said much we haven’t talked about here before, but hopefully the fuss does raise awareness of the cultural losses currently being seen.

Meanwhile, we really liked this take from Michael Kill, of the Night Time Industries Association, on the ingrained prejudices society has about the dark. As he so rightly says “by highlighting the cultural richness and social value of nighttime cultural events, we can challenge the narrative that the night is solely a domain of danger and vice.”

Hear, hear. Read the full post:

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Art to see, birthdays to enjoy, openings to anticipate

🖼️ Chalk Farm Rd’s Proposition Studios have a free open studio this Saturday (3pm-7pm) where you can meet and see the work of local artists with a curated exhibition, performances, live music, and food and drink.

👩‍🎨 Hawley Wharf’s under-the-radar newcomer, the Howard Hue Gallery, has modern art to view and purchase, so drop by for a gander if you’ve not noticed it yet, alongside the Camden Coffee Roastery. Find out a bit more on the artists via the breathlessly written website.

🎨 Canny next level King’s Cross attraction Lightroom have announced that their popular inaugural show, which delves deep into the art of David Hockney, is set to return alongside the current show, (the Tom Hank’s narrated Moonwalkers), for a limited June to October run, with tickets now back on sale.

☕Meanwhile also on Lewis Cubitt Square, the hotly anticipated King’s Cross branch of Mare Street Market, is taking shape, and looks set to have an opening date announced for us all fairly imminently…

🥩 Much-lauded foodie destination The Parakeet turns one year old with a bit of a bash this Saturday night, including a DJ. Here’s how we welcomed this exciting opening to the neighbourhood a year ago, and trawled up some very intriguing history about the pub…

🍷 Then on Sunday (24th), just up the road, Tufnell Park wine bar Authentique hits the ripe old vintage of six years old, with - you guessed it - vinyl DJs, a special menu and loads of celebratory fun all day.


Live and in the area this week…

Liam Gallagher & John Squire

💃 Dip a toe into the world of Kurdish music and dancing with a Kurdish Newroz celebration at King’s Cross Jamboree featuring Suna Alan and special guest Mir Serhed on Saturday (23rd).

🧷 All next week (Mon 25th - Fri 30th), No Sleep Till Hellfest is a Punk and Hardcore contest running heats and finals at Camden Assembly. The ultimate prize? A slot to perform on during the first day of Hellfest 2024.

💍Fancy hearing a 16-piece orchestra play big brassy renditions of Beyonce hits? The Story of Destiny's Child will give you just that, as they take an R&B nostalgia trip live on stage at Lafayette this Tuesday (26th).

🎸 Manchester icons Liam Gallagher and John Squire are touring their self-titled collaborative debut album across the UK, and London fans can witness the show rolling into town at the 02 Forum Kentish Town on Monday (25th), although a word of warning - there are only some fairly pricy resale tickets left.


What’s The Constitution like now it’s reopened?

The weekly column: reflections on living, working and playing in the borough…

TUESDAY: So finally it’s open again. After the best part of half a decade sitting dark and forlorn, plum canalside garden boozer The Constitution reopened at the weekend, following an uncompromisingly big bucks total refurb. As you may remember, Camdenist went on a tour of the site late last year, where we posted and compared some then/now historic photos. It’s safe to say that now the transformation is complete, there’s little left of the old trad boozer, at least inside anyway. Instead, owners Young’s have finally realised their delayed vision for a showstopper of a new gastropub, focused on making use of its location on the popular towpath walk in between the ever-bustling food offerings at Camden Market and King’s Cross, and eventually the proposed Highline elevated park walk, too. Overall, sentiment seems to be positive at seeing the old place open again, and of course the new landlords are keen to welcome back all the locals and regulars, but it remains to be seen whether even a touch of the community bonhomie of old can ever really return to such a different kind of pub.

Intrigued to see the finished rooftop terrace, vastly expanded ground floor spaces and revamped cellar bar, we took up their offer of a meal on a sadly drab Tuesday lunchtime, meaning the swish retractable roof of the new terrace had to stay firmly in place. My guest, Ben Osborne, used to programme music events and DJ at the pub for many years, and having followed its history closely myself as a local journo, including a proposed ‘booze deli’ idea that never flew back in 2015, and the sudden eviction of all the staff pre-pandemic, we felt collectively well-versed in more recent Constitution lore to give a qualified verdict.

The menu is a posh but not unreasonably priced (at least by today’s soaraway standards) selection of innovative twists on pub fayre. Everything has a certain finesse, without being too fussy. A starter of Earl Grey-cured trout with segments of blood orange performs some kind of fish/fruit alchemy to taste almost like cubes of dayboat Turkish Delight. Crunchy lamb belly croquettes come atop a thick and liberal shock of bright green tarragon mayo, making for a rich, moreish and very shareable plate.

Around us, the staff are busy showing a steady stream of people their first look at the place in all its glory, while a few brave souls drink outside in the famous (and largely much the same) elevated waterfront garden. The Constitution is now spacious enough, with its sprawl of nooks, terraces, alcoves and bar rooms that there seem to be temperate zones to suit all moods. A glass of Jealousy Pino Noir is working nicely with the menu upstairs, while it’s heartening to see several old boys establishing what may become regular pint-nursing vantages in the original opened-out front bar area, too.

Wild stone bass, curried clams and samphire proves a creamy hit with Ben, while my smoked pork rump is tasty, but surprisingly cooked a little tough, so the n’duja drenched hispi cabbage, plus another very generous dollop of brown-sauce-like walnut ketchup need to do a bit of heavy lifting. On a different day when things have bedded in a bit, this is no doubt going to be an accomplished dish, and the kitchen is displaying ambition far beyond the burgers and fish ‘n chips of familiar other gastro-billed Young’s pubs nearby. A flawless tart tartin rights the ship as we descend to check out the cellar bar.

Famously a dark but popular live music spot just off the beaten Camden track, the team here today say they are keen to bring music, comedy and more back to the space soon. It doesn’t really feel like a venue though, with bright tiling, lots of mirrors and all the quirky ephemera that a top pub fit-out now brings to the interiour design party, so we will have to see what kind of events do end up taking place here. Nice to see the canalside doors open after many years though.

As we remember the crisp platters, darts and pool table contests, let alone the raucous live band sessions in the main bar, it’s hard not to feel that the spirit of the place has been gastro’ed right out, but pubs always need to shift with the times to swerve the rapacious eyes of developers, and this one has its sights set on a bold new future, still very much as a public house.

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What's your view on the growing proliferation of street art in London?

Love it: super-talented artists are improving our environment with glorious work
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 70% 

Loathe it: public walls should be clean and tidy, let's keep art in a gallery
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 6% 

Meh: some of it's aright, but I'm not really that impressed
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 24%

In the week that Islington’s new Banksy has caused the usual sensation, you lot declare a huge collective hug for street art brightening up our public walls. Comments included:

“Love it, love it, love it - more murals!”

“Love it and love the artists who do it - frankly let’s face it, it has to be better than the mindless tags that the talentless other ejits leave”

There’s plenty of new pieces going up, too, with this one at The Lock Tavern over the weekend, and a big new piece currently underway at Castlehaven…

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