Why It Matters Special: Alma Street Fair 2012

Once again, the organisers of the annual Alma Street Fair effortlessly show us how to run a ‘hyperlocal’ festival that …

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.


  • Show Comments

  • Leslie

    Fantastic write up. It was a fabulous day and makes me so happy to be a part of this viby, mixed community. (Thanks for nice mention, too)

  • HighStreet Ken…tish

    Lucky us you bumped into each-other last year. Well done guys and what a superb festival for a superb community – people of all ages from all walks of life, Kentish Town indeed!

  • Kentishtowner

    Glad everyone enjoyed it. Can anything be done better or was it spot on?

  • Leslie

    Here’s some photos of the day, including some of my work. Your pics are much better as you caught the height of the sunshine. I was stuck at my exhibition station so only got out towards the end to capture some moments on camera. Hope you enjoy them amyway. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150911822098279.435464.535068278&type=3
    If you prefer I send them on a different platform let me know. Leslie x

  • David J

    Not quiet effortless…. see our website for some mention of Those That Should be Thanked. and a link to a brilliant panorama of the day.

  • lisaleaf

    i’ve lived in KT all my life and am getting on a (little) bit now!
    whereas lots of people moan that their area is ‘not as good as in the old days’… i think KT just gets better and better.
    Life in KT is better than in the OC by a long way… there it’s sunny all the time, but here it just shines on Alma Street festival day.

  • Jorge Pablo

    Hi Guys

    I’ve got few pics of this event I’d like to share with you… do you have any place, address, etc where i can send them over?