Picture gallery: Thousands enjoy street fair as Hampstead Summer Festival gets off to flying start – after road closure hiccup nearly scuppers day

People of all ages enjoying the day. Picture: Polly Hancock

People of all ages enjoying the day. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

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People of all ages enjoying the day. Picture: Polly Hancock

People of all ages enjoying the day. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The Hampstead Summer Festival started with a bang at the weekend as thousands flocked to a fun-packed fair on the hottest day of the year.

Heath Street was closed to traffic on Sunday as the Big Fair – the main highlight of the annual week-long festival – drew in the crowds amid soaring temperatures.

Visitors soaked up sun and good vibes as they enjoyed live music and performances from two stages, fairground rides, circus acts, animal attractions from donkey rides to falconry and much more.

Few would have guessed that the festivities were hanging in the balance just hours earlier after a mix-up with the road closure.

Festival founder Linda Chung, a Hampstead Town councillor, said: “There was nearly no festival. The road closure was supposed to be at 6am, but the contractors [responsible for closing the road] didn’t have it on their books.

“I nearly had a heart attack.”

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Fortunately, barriers were diverted from a small street party in Camden Town at about 9am and preparations were completed in record time for the 11am start.

Cllr Chung added: “Thank you to everyone who came. It was a brilliant day full of sunshine and it’s very heart-warming to hear how many people enjoyed the event.”

The biggest Big Fair yet also saw a classic car show, tennis coaching for youngsters, lessons in Brazilian martial art Capoeira, an oversized chess board and a mouth-watering choice of international grub.

The organisers also laid on three marquees that formed an “art village” by Whitestone Pond.

Annie Ward, who was in charge of the art village, said: “Art is so much of Hampstead’s tradition and heritage.

“It was just amazing to see Hampstead looking so lovely in the sunshine and the scene by the pond was quite idyllic, it was like a dream of England.”

The fair was officially opened at 11am with a celebratory ringing of the bells at Christ Church in Hampstead Square and continued until about 5pm.

The Hampstead Summer Festival is into its third year and events have continued throughout this week, including pub quizzes, theatre productions, piano recitals and an exhibition chronicling the pubs of Hampstead.

It will come to a close on Saturday with two more parties forming a grand finale.

Age UK’s Henderson Court Resource Centre in Fitzjohn’s Avenue will be hosting its Party Day featuring a balloon race, summer bazaar and raffle draw from 12noon to 3pm.

There will also be a garden party at Fenton House in Hampstead Grove from 11am to 6pm, with Medieval and Renaissance music in the orchard, exotic food and cocktails on offer.

Visit www.hampsteadsummerfestival.com for more information.