Chatsworth fE5tival

We don’t ‘do’ Oxford Street or Regent Street at Christmas.  The thought of fighting with hoardes of other folk who are equally stressed and pissed off whilst hunting down so-called Christmas bargains is too much too contemplate.  Like many people with kids, the convenience of internet and mail order shopping means that we can avoid such trials.

However, we do love a good market and I have always liked the Christmas street markets they have on the continent.  It is for this reason that earlier today we headed off to Chatsworth Road, home of Hackney’s oldest street market, to visit the 2004 Chartsworth Road Market Festival. Although this was our first visit, it came well recommended by those ‘in the know’ on the Hackney Cyclists stall – see picture below – so we were confident of having a good time.

There were over 50 stalls selling jewellery, hats, bags and homemade gingerbread men to candles, pottery and baby clothes. Although our kids didn’t get to see Sedek the Stiltwalker they did recce the kids zone workshops and No.4 had a ball on the Hackney Playbus and bouncy castle.

On the festival stage in Rushmore school, where the kids also saw a certain gentleman in red, we could hear the folk quartet The Drones working through their set ahead of the jazz outfit Mingus and Afro-Latin funksters, Bushtaxi.  Poets Queen Khadijah and Akwafi Rondoh also did sets and The Ramps are on stage as I type.

It was great to be out in the fresh air enjoying the very tangible atmosphere and Christmassy mood whilst we grabbed a few gifts and knick-knacks.  The excellent samosas, pakora and chana (a bargain at £1.50 a plate) were washed down with steaming mugs of tea.  Once this was walked off, mince pies were munched and washed down with a mulled wine or two from the LCC Hackney folks.

If you’re reading this on the day, there’ll be a closing street procession with carnival costumes, samba music and a bonfire, food and drink at Homerton Adventure Playground this evening.  Once darkness has fallen, the fun will continue at the Thang Long restaurant with Vietnamese food and an evening of live music and poetry including Balabustah (toe tapping violin and accordion duo), Queen Kadijah (African poetry) and Otis Orbison and friends (soul poetry). DJ Laurence will be spinning discs for the rest of the evening.

Get along and enjoy it – you’ll be glad you did.

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