Best Happening 2011: Alma Street Festival

1. Alma Street Festival 2. The absence of looted shops in August 3. 2am summer swimming on the Heath When …

1. Alma Street Festival
2. The absence of looted shops in August
3. 2am summer swimming on the Heath

When we asked for your ‘Best of 2011’ lists, certain categories lent themselves to a more creative type of response. And ‘Best Happening’ is surely one of those, encouraging some very personal replies – all of which were great – and one clear shared community experience as the runaway winner.

We thought AU’s ‘2am summer swimming on the Heath’ – despite its dubious legality and safety – perfectly celebrated the glorious free spirit of all activities enjoyed on the vast natural resource we’re lucky enough to have on our collective backdoors. Mark Williams preferred the delights of fireworks night views from Parliament Hill, a classic Heath ‘happening’, alongside other more obvious choices like the live music at Kenwood House.


Another vote that we’d never have thought of but totally sums up what was important in 2011 was Ben’s ‘the absence of looted shops in August’, which we’ve put at #2.

Neighbouring Chalk Farm took the brunt of the action (as our snaps from the morning after attest), so we should all be very grateful that our area and its businesses weren’t otherwise badly scarred, as many were around the country, by the madness that took place on that strange midsummer night.

In fact, many KT residents may not know how close the High Street came to a major incident. The Safer Neighbourhood Team’s (SNT) Sergeant Peter Ryan and 2 police carrier vans chanced upon a group of up to 200 rioters who had barricaded the main road just before 2am. They were setting about the SNT office (near Chamberlaine Cycles, who had been saved looting by their steel shutters) and Sergeant Ryan was in no doubt that the whole building would have been set on fire shortly.

But the overwhelming consensus for local ‘happening of 2011’ came for the Alma Street Festival. All that’s good about Kentish Town is celebrated at this summer party, one that’s purposefully only promoted to locals and feels all the more fun and vibrant for it.

From chart bothering local music heroes like Mr. Hudson up on stage to a home cooked curry and rice served on the doorstep with a huge cupcake for afterwards, or roadside osteopathy sessions courtesy of The College Practice, or how about Camden Town Brewery selling out of their delicious local brews in the hot sunshine.

The weather was glorious, the vibe eclectic, ethnic, electric and even though the event clearly hasn’t won over quite everyone – especially some residents – with its noisy swagger, there’s no arguing with the voters. It’s multiple thumbs up for the Alma St Fest.
Perhaps next year it could move to a more spacious location.

Monday: Best Coffee
Words: Tom Kihl


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