Top five things to do in Hampstead and Highgate this week

09:07 07 July 2014

The pop-up children's literature festival will transform Swiss Cottage Library into a den of fantasy

The pop-up children's literature festival will transform Swiss Cottage Library into a den of fantasy


A pop-up children’s literary festival, a talk by satirist Craig Brown and the annual Pup Idol dog competition are just some of the things featured in our top five this week.

1. Saturday and Sunday - Pop Up Festival of Stories

An eclectic melee of children’s writers, illustrators, poets and storytellers will be transforming Swiss Cottage Library into a den of fantasy on Saturday and Sunday, bringing books to life with games, interactive readings and music. The Pop Up Festival of Stories features an array of free events, activities and art workshops celebrating children’s literature.

Colourful sets and costumes designed by the Royal Opera House will transform the library, in Avenue Road, and “spark the imaginations of young readers”.

Supported by the Ham&High, highlights over the two days include a 1950s-era jazz bar with cabaret, an enormous mobile installation of an enchanted city and an exuberant fusion of African music and storytelling. Knights, ogres, trolls and dragons will also be roaming around.

Organisers hope they can “ignite imaginations, inspire future readers and writers, and build more literate communities”.

Dylan Calder, director of the festival, said: “It’s all completely free so that families from all walks of life can join us in celebrating the imagination.”

Events will be on from 11am to 6pm on both days. For more information, visit

2. Friday - Camden Festival

Camden Lock festival returns for its second year with a line up of live music performances and entertainment. A one-day “urban boutique festival”, live music will be twinned with some of the best of London’s street food, bars by famed brewer Brewdog, a Reggae Roast Tent and much more. Playing on the live stage in West Yard will be singer songwriter Jake Isaac, rapper Tigger Da Author, guitar duo Youth Club and solo artist Sam Garrett. Young artists from the Roundhouse and Amy Winehouse Foundation will also feature.

Runs from 10am to 10pm. Visit for more information.

3. Saturday - Pup Idol

Dog show Pup Idol returns for another year where man’s best friend battles it out to be the best pooch in Hampstead in aid of charity All Dogs Matter. The event takes place in the garden of The Spaniards Inn in Spaniards Road, Hampstead. A panel of celebrity judges includes Bill Oddie, Corrie’s Michelle Collins, Emmerdale’s Georgia Slowe, Downton Abbey star Peter Egan and TV vet Marc Abraham. Categories include Miss Hampstead, Cutest Pup and, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks, Golden Oldie.

Runs from 10.30am to 3pm. To book your dog a spot, visit or email All entries costs £5.

4. Wednesday - Craig Brown

Private Eye’s mock celebrity diary, satirist Craig Brown ends the St Mary’s Primrose Hill summer lecture series with an exploration of parody. The creator of characters such as Bel Littlejohn and Wallace Arnold will present his own “one-stop literary festival” with contributions from the likes of Jilly Cooper, D H Lawrence, Anthony Powell and WG Sebald. Starts 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 (£10 concs). Visit to book.

5. Sunday - Alternative Games

Venture to Parliament Hill to take part in the Alternative Commonwealth Games. A day for the whole family, try your hand at Scottish Shinty, Welly Wanging, and “classic Aussie games”. Brush up on your peg-throwing with old South African folk sport Jukskei or give some Jamaican dodgeball a go (known as Dandy Shandy). Food, arts, crafts and storytelling available from across the Commonwealth nations, as well as live music.

Runs from 12pm to 6pm. Part of the City of London Festival. Visit for more information.


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