Bill Oddie wows the crowd as thousands flock to Hampstead Heath summer festival

Thousands descended on Hampstead for a village festival with international flavour yesterday (Sunday, July 15).

Although Hampstead Heath has enjoyed a summer fair since the late 19th century, the fledgling Hampstead Heath Community Summer Festival has become a red letter day for people far outside the confines of South End Green.

Local celebrities, Springwatch presenter Bill Oddie and guitarist John Etheridge - one of the most anticipated acts of the festival - played a rousing set with great patter with the crowd. But the former Goodie resisted calls to play the group’s famous hit The Funky Gibbon.

There were also performances by local stars Zada and Dado - film composer Dado Dzihan, who wrote the soundtrack to Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut movie, and his daughter Zada.

Festival director Jonathan Bergman said: “It was great to see children and their parents having a great time and strangers getting to know one another.

“That’s what happens when everyone unwinds and that’s what we all need.

“It was a friendly, convivial and exciting atmosphere to be in. When the community connects with each other you can see the potential there, with everyone getting along.”

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South End was closed off for the sprawling street party, with punters mingling with the likes of impressionist Jon Culshaw and comedian David Baddiel, as they enjoyed stalls and foodies tucked into the world cuisine on offer.

Festivities spread to the World Peace Garden with some more musical offerings and tiny tots enjoyed a collection of bouncy castles and fun-fair rides on the Heath.

Live entertainment director Catherine Arden said: “I was really delighted with the line-up this year. It was a real eclectic mix, with all ages and all cultures represented, which is a sign of a true community.”