Once again, the organisers of the annual Alma Street Fair effortlessly show us how to run a ‘hyperlocal’ festival that manages to be buzzy, peaceful, and representative of our multicultural and diverse community.
Hundreds packed the pretty backstreets of the Inkerman conservation area yesterday, whilst residents enjoyed the spectacle from their rooftops, Notting Hill Carnival stylee. For the first time, an Art Street was laid out featuring 22 artists curated by Melissa Hardwick, including impressive work by Leslie Wilson-Rutterford and Steven Williams.
On the food front, we first swung by Arancini Factory, one of the busiest outlets, where we couldn’t resist their huge garlic wraps, stuffed with apples, peppers, tomatoes – and some meltingly soft rice balls.
Falafel connoisseurs were in luck as Hoxton Beach dished up superior offerings (secret? Melt-in-the-mouth aubergine), best enjoyed standing upwind of the bubble-machine.
Cupcakes were pretty much everywhere. We loved the beautiful spread from Dahlias Delicacies (pictured here at 1pm and demolished by 6) and there were many grateful recipients of the free cupcakes and real lemonade being dished out by handmade clothing stall My Sharona at the end.
For those in need of a cool-off, local ice cream specialists Ruby Violet – imminently opening their first shop in Tufnell Park just in time for summer – cleverly provided special kid-sized cones (all the fun, less of the manic sugar high).
On the eastern fringes up towards Raglan Street, Michael ‘Flaxon’ Ptootch got the party started with a fast-drained cocktail bar and some ace reggae and dance classics which saw the tent bumping by about 5pm.
But it was so hot that Camden Brewery ran out of Hell’s Lager on more than one occasion – and Kentish Town fire station brought two trucks down, deliciously flouting the hosepipe ban by dousing squealing kids with icy water in the sunshine, like a scene from a New York block party circa 1970.
As the sun beat down relentlessly, we hung out for a while in the western fringe of the festival, where the acoustic stage had its own laidback vibe, with folk lazing on wooden benches and soaking up the sounds. This low-key atmosphere permeated all the way to nearby Map Cafe, who were doing brisk trade with their own bar set up outside.
On the main stage, a succession of bands did their thing before a magnificent performance by Kentishtowner faves BIGKids, whose new single (which we premiered here) ‘Superhero’ is set to be a Kentish Town anthem, its video shot exclusively in NW5. And as is the custom of Alma Street, Mr Hudson had everyone singing along to ‘Forever Young’ as encore.
It’s not for everyone, of course. Some residents tweeted us to say they’d be avoiding the street until nightfall. But we believe this is an important annual event for Kentish Town.
And Alma Street Fair also has a special place in the story of The Kentishtowner, as it was where a couple of old mates ran into each other last year, having lost touch for a while, and set about relaunching what was a weekly blog into north London’s only daily magazine. So heck, a nice cold Hell’s Lager cheers to that (or three).
Words & Pics: Stephen Emms & Tom Kihl
Why It Matters comes in association with Discount Insurance, whose big boss bloke Steve lives in NW5 (maybe you ran into him at the fair yesterday?) Anyway, he’s offering Kentishtowner readers a £10 M&S voucher with every new policy. Which seems like quite a nice deal to us.