Merge Festival, Bankside

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.

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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.

Merge Festival Bankside

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!

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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!

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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

Merge Festival Bankside

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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

Cost: Free

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.

Have you made it down to Merge yet? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!