Man in crowd at the River Stage

River Stage Festival 2019 returns to the South Bank

This free festie celebrates London's brilliant diversity with a programme over five summer weekends

The National Theatre’s free outdoor artsy festival has become something of a summer institution and – as sure as a rainy bank holiday – it’s back in force this year.

The schtick is simple: each weekend a bunch of eclectic London folk take over the river-facing stage and offer a full line-up of events for all ages, from family workshops and theatre to queer club nights and DJs. And it’s all for nada.

This year the impressive line-up includes Haggerston’s awesome LGBTQ bar The Glory, Shubbak Festival, National Park City Festival, Frantic Assembly and a finale closing party with the National Theatre.

Some highlights? First up (5th–7th July) is The Glory, the east London drag hothouse which stages a three-day Pride party with the best of London’s alternative drag and cabaret stars.

Two weeks later (19th–21st July), the National Park City Festival, hosted by the Mayor of London, celebrates everything green and wild about the city with a mix of dance, theatre and music to mark London’s new status as the world’s first National Park City. No, we didn’t know that either.

Elsewhere is the Shubbak Festival (12th-14th July), celebrating the best of the Arab cultural scene, while theatre company Frantic Assembly (26th–28th July) marks its 25th birthday, and, on the final weekend (2nd–4th August) the NT itself curates its own headline shows.

Need feeding and watering? Take your pick from sweet or savoury options with Melt Ice Cream, Campfire Pizza, The Cheese Iron, The Otherstudy and The WineBox. Plus weekly tap takeovers from London’s favourite breweries, while the Apothecary Cocktail Bar will dish up harder libations.

See you down the waterfront.

The River Stage runs 5th July to 4th August. More details here

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