Grab your round sunglasses, put flowers in your hair and get ready to enjoy a free music festival in the heart of town – Croydon Summer of Love Festival is just three weeks away.
The 60s-themed bash is being held for the first time ever in Wandle Park on Saturday, June 17, in the hope of spreading a message of peace, love and unity 50 years after the 1967 summer of love. It is the brainchild of long-time local resident Andrew Dickinson, who started planning for the flower-power themed event last Autumn. He said he wanted to move on and make good things happen after both local and national events last November – namely the tram crash and US presidential election – disappointed him. The self-described devoted passionate resident and Wandle Park officer set about organising a festival devoted to celebrating our differences, spreading goodwill and adding a bit of colour to the town. He said: “It’s just all about putting a bit of colour back into town after the awful end to 2016. There were a lot of negative vibes and a feeling of unsettledness floating around. So I just wanted to alleve a bit of that, just as Croydon has always done historically. Now is the time to adopt all of the positive aspects of the original summer of love – peace, love and unity – a ‘we are all in this together’ message.”
There will be a host of live music performances across three stages, and plenty of flowers, glitter and bubbles to get the hippy shakes going. Some 11 bands have already been chosen to provide the music, including soul, reggae and hiphop from Antarma – can you keep dancing for the whole seven hours? But the event is not just a music festival – hula-hoop dancers, who will be performing as well as leading workshops, will be twirling up a storm while spoken word poets spill their hearts out. A so-called fairy love grotto decked out with mood lighting, colourful hand-woven rugs and dangling vines will also be there for when you need to chill out and unwind alongside arts and crafts stalls. You won’t go hungry either as there will be a whole host of guest eateries serving up street food. You can tuck in to American classics like Philly cheese subs and corn dogs from Surrey Street’s Monster Chefs or opt for healthy vegan fare. And of course, no festival would be complete without a bar. Around 21,000 cornflower seeds have been planted in the Wandle Park community garden, which will be used to make colourful necklaces, garlands and headbands if they bloom in time for the big day.
The original summer of love phenomenon peaked in San Fransisco in 1967 when 100,000 hippies streamed into the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood to live a counter-culture lifestyle. Think sex, drugs and rock and roll. But the 2017 incarnation of the event is family-friendly with more of a focus on the borough’s community – and Mr Dickinson hopes to make it an annual event. If you like the idea of having a full summer of love, you’re in luck because other Croydon businesses and communities are also chipping in. You can watch 1960s movies at the David Lean cinema, go to Love Lane to see a specially-planted flower garden or create psychedelic art at Elizabeth James gallery in South Norwood. The season-long event’s tagline is interactive – “for the summer of love, I will”. Festival-goers are encouraged to add their own promise as to how they will make the town a more peaceful place.
The festival is free and will run from midday until 7pm on Saturday, June 17. Festival-goers are able to bring their own picnic but will not be allowed to use barbecues. Those who want to contribute to the festival’s running costs can buy a T-shirt from https://croydonsummeroflove.teemill.co.uk/. Local businesses are also being encouraged to chip in – for example by naming their products after 1960s songs and bands.