Last week I headed on over to check out what was going on at Merge Festival – an annual arts, music and performance festival held in Bankside.
It’s on until the 4th of June, so you’ve got a few days left to catch live music and performances throughout the neighbourhood. The weather was absolutely stunning, so we managed to catch some of the live music on the Thames Clipper, but you can still catch some of the acts at Borough Market, or at Citizen M.
We also made it to Drive Dead Slow, which is the trippiest bumper car experience I’ve ever experienced – personality tests and all. I’ve popped down the rest of the events until the 4th below – get yourself down there before it’s over!
12th May – 4th June – Drive Dead Slow – the ultimate dodgem experience
What: The world’s first artist-designer bumper car arena: a collective of visual, sound and light artists have each adapted a 1960s Supercar to give each vehicle a personality to match your mood. Career around a disused fire station and see which car/ personality you’ve chosen!
Artists include: Marcus Lyall, Bompas & Parr, Jimmy Cauty, Luke Morgan, Ed Baxter, Tony Pletts and Dave Cranmer.
Where: Southwark Fire Brigade, Southwark Bridge Road (entrance on Sawyer Street), SE1 0EG
When: 12th May – 4th June (ongoing through MERGE), 12:00 – 19:00 daily (until 22:00 on Friday nights)
Cost: Free from 12:00 – 16:00, £5 after
12th May – 4th June – Candy Chang Confessions – Hilton London Bankside
What: A top-secret confession booth set up by Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang. Divulge your innermost thoughts, facts and quirks and write whatever you’d like on a wooden plaque, and leave behind anonymously. Throughout the festival, a gallery of these hanging confessions will be created outside the booths where you can delve into others’ thoughts – some may be shocking and some might show we are not alone in our quirks!
Where: Outside Hilton Bankside, Prices Street, SE1 0UG
When: 12th May – 4th June, all day, every day
12th May – 4th June – Acoustic Buskers at Borough Market
What: Perk up your lunch break with live acoustic sessions at Borough Market, featuring local musicians Tim Newman, Lucy May Walker, Alex Monk and Marku Michelucci.
Where: Market Hall at Borough Market, 2 – 4 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
When: Monday – Wednesday during festival, 12:00 – 14:00
12th May – 4th June – Skyline Sessions at Mondrian London
What: Head to Mondrian’s recently revamped skyline bar, Rumpus Rooms, for live acoustic music and excellent drinks throughout MERGE.
Where: Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
When: Every Wednesday during the festival, from 19:00
Cost: Free to enter
12th May – 4th June – Jonny Drop at Boro Bistro
What: Adding extra musical flair to the MERGE line-up are Boro Bistro’s Thursday night DJ sessions, playing Latin, Jazz and Soul on vinyl.
Where: Boro Bistro, 6 – 10 Borough High Street, SE1 9QQ
When: Every Thursday during the festival, from 19:00
12th May – 4th June – Live music at Union Street Café
What: A celebration of the humble olive at Union Street Café’s Olive Grove. Drink and dine under an olive tree canopy and sip on martini cocktails whilst enjoying live music.
Where: Union Street Café, 47 – 51 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BS
When: Every Friday during the festival, from 20:00
Cost: £25 for four small plates and a cocktail (quote MERGE Bankside)
12th May – 4th June – Sunday Sessions at Bedales
What: A weekly Sunday musical experience at the legendary Borough Market bar.
Where: Bedales, Borough Market, 5 Bedal Street, SE1 9AL
When: Every Sunday during the festival (excluding 14th May), from 18:00
15th May – 3rd June – ‘This is Not Culturally Significant’ at Bunker Theatre
What: A darkly comic one-man show that explores various characters’ eccentricities. Performed entirely nude, it’s both uncomfortable and mesmerising.
Where: Bunker Theatre, 53A Southwark Street, SE1 1RU
When: 15th May – 3rd June, 20:00
Cost: Tickets start at £10
24th May – 4th June – Patrick Tresset’s Machine Studies
What: Immerse yourself in a classroom of 20 robot pupils, each with a distinct personality. Watch how they respond to English, maths, science and art lessons. In another room, have your portrait drawn by a robot as they now turn their gaze on you.
Where: Platform Southwark, 1 Joan Street
When: 24th May – 4th June, Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 19:00
Cost: Free, pre-book a portrait drawing at mergefestival.co.uk
31st May – 2nd June – Caravan Shorts
What: A 15-minute theatre production from a caravan, produced by Robert Linde. Nine audience members at a time can experience one of eight short dramas in this intimate and exciting setting. The caravan will move locations throughout the Bankside area over the course of the festival.
Where: Flat Iron Square (Union Street)
When: 31st May – 2nd June, 12:00 – 14:00, 17:00 – 19:00
1st June – Electronic DJ at citizenM
What: citizenM gets into the MERGE spirit with a special electronic DJ night.
Where: citizenM, 20 Lavington Street, SE1 0NZ
When: 1st June, 17:00 – 19:00
4th June – Super Glad at the Union Theatre – musicians
What: Music nights return to showcase local talent at this Bankside institution, paying homage to legendary pub ‘The Gladstone’s Sunday sessions. The day will be jam-packed with live music and drinks, featuring Billy Bones, The Swamp Stomp String Band and Vinyl DJs.
Where: Union Theatre, Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR
When: 4th June, 18:00 – 22:30
More details on the festival, now in its seventh year, can be found at mergefestival.co.uk, as well as links to purchase any tickets.
Merge Bankside is a festival curated by Illuminate Productions, created in collaboration with Better Bankside, a Business Improvement District dedicated to making Bankside a place to work, live, and visit. It is also supported by Tate Modern.