Still three weekends left to attend the River Stage Festival on London’s South Bank

River Stage, the free outdoor Summer festival organised by the National Theatre in partnership with five of the UK’s leading arts and culture organisations begins on London’s South Bank this July

  • London’s largest free outdoor arts festival returns for a fourth year this July and August
  • Five weekends of live music, DJs, family workshops, club nights and theatre from the National Theatre and others who will take over the stage each weekend
  • A selection of London’s finest street food and drink stalls on hand for refreshments

Opening the festival for the third year on Friday 13th July is London’s leading queer performance venue and popular night spot The Glory. A dazzling army of drag queens, underground stars, club kids and cult comedians will create another totally unique family-friendly showcase for what has become an annual highlight for the capital’s LGBT+ community. Highlights include a re-working of Liza With A Z, a Madonna-themed cabaret special and Jonny Woo’s new show with Double Olivier award winner Le Gateau Chocolat.

Director of The Glory, John Sizzle says “River Stage is an amazing opportunity for underground performers to share their work with a big, varied crowd – It’s like a cultural exchange. People ask us all year round when the next one is happening – it gets bigger each year, we can’t wait, see you there!

HOME Manchester return to River Stage from Friday 20th July, following last year’s spectacular debut, bringing an eclectic, diverse line-up of northern performers and musicians to the capital, showing London the best of what Manchester has to offer. Kicking off with an ‘If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It’ opening night featuring sequin-clad satirical weirdos Bourgeois & Maurice and Madchester legend Dave Haslam, the weekend will feature pop-up theatre from The Manchester Project, suffragette sash workshops with Mighty Heart Theatre, live music from MIRO and spoken word from Young Identity to name a few. For those ready to party, Saturday evening will culminate with ‘champion of good music’ and Hacienda legend DJ Paulette on the decks.

Kevin Jamieson, Senior Producer at HOME said “We’re delighted to be asked back to present a weekend of performance and music as part of the National Theatre’s River Stage. We had a great time bringing the best of Manchester down to the capital last year and can’t wait to do it all again. With local artist such as Dave Haslam, DJ Paulette, Manchester International Roots Orchestra and the Manchester Project featured in the line-up, get ready for a Northern invasion (trains permitting!).”

Making its River Stage debut, Sadler’s Wells presents a range of dance styles from 27th July, with hip hop, ballroom, traditional Indian kathak dance, contemporary and flamenco. Alongside performances, there are participatory workshops to get visitors moving including yoga, a family friendly workshop and a ceilidh.

Joce Giles, Sadler’s Wells’ Director of Learning and Engagement said: “I am very excited to be presenting a weekend of fantastic free dance performances on the National Theatre’s River Stage. Breakin’ Convention will get the party started on Friday night with hip hop and freestyle, while over the weekend we present Step Change Studios with ballroom dance by disabled and non-disabled dancers, and family-friendly participatory sessions including flamenco, lindy hop and a ceilidh.”

Also making its first appearance at River Stage is nonclassical, who take to the stage from Friday 3rd bringing together the best in new classical, electronic and experimental music. On Friday night, Klavikon (Leon Michener) plays live techno prepared piano, including hamster wheel, before Tom Richards presents an idiosyncratic and infectious demonstration of his modular synthesizer setup. Elsewhere, there’s renaissance music and live improvisations from cello trio Tre Voci; an exploration of the work of 20th century female composers from Sarah Dacey; music for cello and tape, plus jazz vibraphone, from Cecilia Bignall; a unique performance of Gabriel Prokofiev’s ‘Cello Multitracks’, led by Peter Gregson; the joyfully anarchic jazz/classical/rock collective DOLLYman; while DJs across the weekend include Late Junction’s Nick Luscombe and the genre-bending turntablist Mr Switch.

Eleanor Ward, nonclassical Executive Director, said, “We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of the National Theatre’s River Stage Festival for the first time this year. We’re looking forward to bringing the best of nonclassical to a massive outdoors audience – taking live music and DJs out of our club nights and into the open air on the riverfront.

The National Theatre is programming the final festival weekend from Friday 10th August with a mix of family focused workshops, sing along bands, a groundbreaking new circus show, a tea dance and live music and DJ’s. The weekend will end with a screening of the National Theatre Live recording of the NT’s recent production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Follies, winner of Best Musical Revival at this year’s Olivier awards starring Olivier award winning actress Imelda Staunton. Hertz is the Official Transport Provider to the National Theatre, and will be supporting the weekend with a series of fun activities and prize giveaways.

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre said,’’ I am delighted that River Stage is back for the 4th year running – it’s been such a resounding success for the past 3 years, and has become a vital part of our summer programming. This year’s festival is set to be as thrilling as ever and I am really pleased that we are partnering, once again, with a wide range of organisations from around the UK. The eclectic mix of artists – some familiar faces from previous years and some brand new – will be bringing their music, dance, theatre and more so there will be something for everyone. And the key thrill for me is seeing the crowds of new faces that River Stage brings to the South Bank. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone in July.’’

River Stage is now in its fourth year of bringing free entertainment to audiences outside the National Theatre. With the NT’s mission to be as ‘open, diverse, as collaborative and as national as possible’, the festival showcases the best artists from across the UK, presenting an eclectic and exciting mix of dance, theatre and music. Last year the festival saw over 40,000 people attend making it London’s biggest free outdoor arts festival. Delta is the Official Airline Partner for River Stage.

River Stage runs from Friday 13th July to Sunday 12th August and all events are free. For more details go to