North London's Cultural Guide

Alma Street Fair 2022: back after 3 years

Kentish Town's best annual festival returns in full force. Plus Highgate Festival and Fair in the Square

Need a hit of good news? North London’s favourite community street fair is back again in all its post-Covid glory. Not seen – quite unbelievably – since the heady summer of 2019, it returns to Inkerman Conservation Area, one of Kentish Town’s most appealing backwaters, on Sunday 3rd July.

It’s been organised for over a decade by the residents’ association – collaborating with the community, charities, local schools and commercial enterprises – with local hairdressing ledge Michael Ptootch at the helm. “Kentish Town will be jumping again,” he says – and he ain’t kidding.

So what to expect? More than a hundred stalls will be offering food, art and crafts, coffee, cake, ice cream, and more, with a bar, of course, too. Hic. There’ll be a grand parade of dancers and performers, as well as live acts and performances all day on the Map Cafe stage and main stage, as well as in the comedy tent and acoustic lounge. And as usual, local heroes the Dig It Sound System will be in full force on DJ duties.

Neck and neck: Alma Street Fair. Pic: Stephen Emms

Elsewhere expect plenty of family-friendly fun including art workshops, music, dancing, games, a children’s talent contest, and face painting, as well as a raffle. (And in case you’re wondering, the Fair is not run for profit.)


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If you can’t wait that long, this Saturday 11th sees the Highgate Fair In the Square (1230pm-530pm), which takes over the whole of London’s hilltop village in genteel style. Expect eclectic stalls, an up-for-it bunch of locals and a varied programme of music, dance and theatre performed on the Pond Square stage.

And one more for the road: the culmination of this year’s Highgate Festival is a street party taking place on the corner of Swain’s Lane and Highgate Road on June 18th (12-5pm), with all local businesses on that thoroughfare participating with stalls and special menus.

Alma Street: the potted history

Alma Street
It wasn’t as packed as this in Victorian times. Photo: SE
Dating from 1856, its name commemorates the Battle Of The River Alma, the first indecisive victory for the Allies in the Crimean War. (History buffs will know that Crimea was considered the first modern war, with daily reports appearing in newspapers, tactical use of railways, and pioneering old Florence Nightingale in the thick of it.)

Gillian Tindall, in her excellent bible of Kentish Town ‘The Fields Beneath’ (read our interview with her here), talks in detail about Alma Street. Together with the other roads in Inkerman Conservation Area (est 2001), it ‘soon filled up with pianoforte makers, wood engravers, dressmakers and railway workers, all helping to swell Kentish Town’s industrial proletariat, which was now threatening to swamp the middle-class inhabitants.’

Alma Street symbolized the ongoing struggle between, on the one hand, the poorer and more industrial west, and on the other, what was in Victorian times called New Kentish Town (now Caversham, Gaisford, Patshull Roads et al) and their insistence on creating upper middle class housing to ‘counterbalance’ the less desirable elements elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

Yet current residents will be pleased to see that by 1898 Charles Booth’s poverty map show the street ‘very decent indeed; two families to a house generally.’

And don’t forget, a river runs through it. Several years ago the owners of No.8 dug out their cellar – only to discover the long-submerged Fleet right beneath their house. After all, neighbouring Anglers Lane was once a bucolic fishing spot. Read more history here.

Follow @almastreetfair for the latest. Alma Street Fair is free to attend and runs on Sunday July 3rd 12-7pm in Alma Street NW5

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.