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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Fun at Southbank's Festival of the World

The Bank Holiday may be over, but there's still plenty of fun and inspiration to be had at the Festival of the World at London’s Southbank Centre. The grey concrete areas around the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall have been transformed into an outdoor gallery by a series of exuberant art works. Look out for the beautiful baobab tree, 15 metres high and covered in fabric rings (left), the giant map made with Lego bricks, the row of little adobe houses and sculptures (great for children to play in), and trees lovingly decorated with balloons.

A real crowd-stopper is this sculpture of two giant robots which seem to be climbing the side of a building. Appropriately, it's called Everything is Beautiful When You Don’t Look Down.

The terraces overlooking the Thames have become home to a series of colourful pop-up restaurants with food from all corners of the globe, complementing the treats on sale in the Real Food Market on the courtyard behind the buildings.
And when you’ve exhausted the complex’s lower levels, climb the yellow spiral staircase to the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall to discover a wonderful place to relax – a garden, complete with scarecrow, created with the help of the Eden Project.

Here, much of the planting is done in raised beds, which hold flowers and vegetables from around the globe. But there are also unlikely containers which have gained a new lease of life.  I especially loved the Victorian toilet bowl and these old watering cans.

Blackboards list the plants and vegetables currently flourishing, bees and butterflies flit around, and best of all, visiting youngsters are actively encouraged to get involved. Go there while you can.

The festival runs until September 9.

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