The holidays are here and London is teeming with opportunities to hear proper oral storytelling. Stories for children of course, but also for adults. If you want to enjoy the magic of storytelling, start by visiting smaller museums near to you, arts centres, city farms and local festivals- you may well be lucky. Events are quite often free as well.
But what if you can’t find anything? Let me help! If you want to enjoy storytelling with a child, a baby or with some grown up friends, here’s ten places to start.
(Forest Hill) This museum has championed storytelling for many years and no matter when you check in you will find some kind of storytelling for everyone- tours with Miss Horniman, under fives stories and songs, sessions around special collections, tales for adults…
(Blackheath) Fantastic professional storyteller Debbie Guneratne is the only person in London (as far as I know) to run and facilitate regular ongoing weekly storytelling workshops for children and teens in London. If you would like to teach your child how to tell stories in a workshop environment, I cant think of a better way.
3. Spark London
(Hackney and around London) An irresistible and addictive night of “true stories told live” by members of the public. If you have a story to tell, this is the place to start. It’s an intimate and hilarious night if you love gossip, shock, and moving insight into the lives of other people. Current venues include the Brixton Ritzy and Hackney Picturehouse.
(Wimbledon) This little theatre is a champion of traditional storytelling. As well as interactive storytelling-themed events, they run regular a “Sunday Stories” with various well known and fantastic professional tellers from around the world. I loved telling stories there!
6. The Embers
(Across London) This adult-storytelling and music collective is going from strength to strength, catch them under a tree, in a pub, at a festival or round a campfire for mystical magical evenings!
(Kensington) Historic Royal Palaces are obsessed with storytelling and Kensington is truly a magical palace of stories. I’ve worked there many times! Check in regularly to discover fascinating storytelling sessions and costumed interpretation. They also have regular “Tiny Explorers” storytelling sessions for under-fives.
8. London’s local libraries
(Local to you!) Check out your local borough library! There are often storytelling events there throughout the holidays, as part of the Summer reading Challenge and to mark special events such as Black History Month, Holocaust Memorial Day and more. Many sessions are delivered by professional storytellers but most libraries also use librarians to lead storytelling sessions for under fives on a regular basis.
(Hackney) I can’t leave this blog post without a mention of Stories on a Sunday with the Last Tuesday Society. Although the day-of-the-week themed titles may sound rather mundane, don’t be put off! This is a superb storyteller (Giles Abbott) weaving tales in one of the most bizarre and extraordinary settings you can imagine!
10. London Dreamtime
(Across London) Magical, exciting, scary and fantastical stories for adults in the city’shidden corners, derelict housing estates, muddy foreshores, murky tunnels, urban forests, midnight cemeteries… (didn’t think I’d leave this out did you?) This night attracts the most wonderful audiences in the history of ever not that I’m biased! Come and see us this month, info here.
Of course I could barely touch the surface with only ten selections! So here’s some more to look at.
Just drop each name into google for up to date information.
Also check out: Museum of London, Storynight at Torriano, The Stow Tellers, The Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, The Museum of London Docklands, YOUR LOCAL INDIE BOOKSHOP, Maritime Museum, 40 Winks Bedtime Storynight, Storytelling in Hope, Discover Story Centre in Stratford, the Crick Crack Club, the Southbank Centre, the V&A, … and many more!!
(Below, half term storytelling on a giant bed at the Southbank Centre)