Our complete guide to London’s Culture Mile Nights

Culture Mile presents Tunnel Visions: Array created by 59 Productions as part of Barbican OpenFest in the Beech Street tunnel on 17 and 18 March 2018.

Culture Mile Nights, a nocturnal three-night festival taking place from Thursday 21 until Saturday 23 November, will explore and celebrate the nightlife and night-time economy of the West Smithfield area.

Performances and pop-up events in pubs, cafes and clubs across the area will connect and celebrate the people, places and stories that come to life after dark, as well as an exploration of the history of the area.

Culture Mile Nights is inspired by and in response to the Barbican’s Into The Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art exhibition, which explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world and the Museum of London’s The Clash: London Calling display. Here are a few highlights for the three-night festival.

Last Night of the Pleasure Fair

Coney will host an evening of entertainment, interactivity and play around the theme of London’s counter culture, responding specifically to the history of Smithfield & the surrounding area. The Bartholomew Fair ran from 1133 to 1855 in Smithfield. It was both a trading event for cloth and other goods – and a pleasure fair that drew crowds from all classes of English society. The fair featured sideshows, prize-fighters, musicians, wire-walkers, acrobats and wild animals and was the thorn in the local Parish’s side.

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Experience all the cheap thrills at the Pleasure Fair

Denounced as a “school of vice which has initiated more youth into the habits of villainy than Newgate itself’ in 1855, the fair was closed down by the City authorities for encouraging debauchery and public disorder. Join Coney for some Saturday night frolics and explore the fair through games, challenges and live performance. The event will be inspired by elements of historical research and explore how counter culture in London is now under threat and what problems this will have for the future of the Capital.
23 November, (8pm till late), free
The Rising Sun, EC1A 7JQ

Oi Barman! in the City

Spoken word artist Joshua Idehen draws on a decade as a bartender in London’s liveliest cocktail bars, to capture a cross section of London life. A lovesong to bar life, this specially commissioned show for Culture Mile Nights by Poet in the City, Oi Barman! in the City tells the stories of bar staff in and around Smithfield and the City of London; an area market traders, city traders and clubbers all call their own. Featuring DJ Ellie Prohan and artists Shay D and Eklipse, it promises to capture the energy and diversity of London’s club culture.
21 & 22 November, 7.30 & 8.30pm, tickets £8
Bird of Smithfield, EC1A 9LB

Tribute to Dread Broadcasting Corporation

Culture Mile with the Museum of London are hosting a tribute to Dread Broadcasting Corporation, exploring the history and legacy of the first black-owned radio station in Europe and the first UK pirate radio station to play reggae and predominately black music. Over three nights in November, the Museum of London will bring the spirit of DBC back to life, with a series of public broadcasts, interviews and live happenings that mark 40 years since Rebel Radio sounds hit London’s airwaves.
21-23 November (6pm-late)
Catering Meats, 307 Central Markets EC1A 9LY

The Jazz Mile

The Culture Mile Jazz Club is showcasing jazz musicians from Guildhall School for a unique night of music played by some of London’s finest emerging talent. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance Jazz scene of the 1920s, seven will perform contemporary re-imaginings of music from the era in the atmospheric confines of Smithfield’s Piano bar.
Sat 23 November, 6pm until late, free
Piano Smithfield, EC1A 9PN

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The Culture Mile Jazz Club showcases brilliant young and emerging talent

Culture Mile Night Tours

Smithfield comes to life after dark, as the ancient meat market cranks up alongside the pubs and clubs. In medieval taverns, Victorian saloons, underground wine bars and converted warehouses, the spirit of ancieant London revelry lives on in this alluring part of town. With the area on the cusp of major change, follow Tom Bolton on a walk around Smithfield’s many pubs to explore the area’s layered history of trials and executions, riotous summer fairs, buried rivers, lost neighbourhoods, slaughterhouses and markets – ending, of course, with a drink.
22 & 23 November, 6.30 & 8.30pm, free
Meet at Farringdon Tube Station

Push to Play: an interactive installation

Push to Play is an interactive installation by MadeByPlay and Karl Toomey that activates playful engagement between the people and places of Culture Mile at the touch of a button. For Culture Mile Nights, audiences can Push to Play in Smithfield, with a specific set of playful activities co-curated by play experts MadeByPlay and Culture Mile to encourage exploration of the area.
21-23 November, free
Smithfield Rotunda EC1A 9DY