The Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (GDIF) has returned to London for another year. The award-winning festival of free outdoor arts and theatre will take place across 18 days, from the 26th of August until the 11th of September. 2022’s program promises to be as eclectic as ever and includes a total of 25 premiers. 

Sky is Filled with Thunder, Fevered Sleep
Sky is Filled with Thunder, by Fevered Sleep

London will be home to the work of a number of international artists from countries including Spain, Germany, Flanders, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Ukraine and The United States. The overarching theme of this year’s festival is common ground and sets out to remind us of the importance of shared values, rituals and togetherness. Artistic Director Bradley Hemmings MBE said that he hopes this year’s festival “will offer audiences a moment of sanctuary from the anxious times that we’ve been living through” and that it will offer them “a glimpse of collective possibility and purpose.”

Charon by Peter Hudson.
Charon, by Peter Hudson © Mitzi Peirone
Charon, by Peter Hudson © Mitzi Peirone

This year’s festival opens with the spectacular UK premiere of SPARK, the creation of Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde. Taking inspiration from the natural phenomenon of fireflies, he has created a reimagined and environmentally responsible public celebration that updates the ritual of fireworks. The result is a poetic performance which will be presented over two nights in Greenwich on 26 and 27 August. During which, thousands of biodegradable light sparks will organically float through the air, inspiring visitors to wonder and reflect.

SPARK, by Daan Roosegaarde

Alongside SPARK are several spectacular and immersive art installations including Peter Hudson’s reconstruction of his 32ft high zoetrope Charon, originally created for the Burning Man Festival. German artist Stephanie Lüning will be enveloping Greenwich Peninsula in mountains of environmentally friendly rainbow foam, for the UK premiere of her ephemeral installation, Island of Foam: Version XVIII. Dutch artist Arjan Kruidhof has created a mindful reinvention of a fairground ride, RELAXERETTE, which invites audiences to escape from the bustle of the city and spend a dreamy afternoon nestled within a hammock, listening to a collection of sounds and stories

Relaxerette, by Arjan Kruidhof © Sophie Sijpheer Terluin

Disabled artist Oliver Macdonald’s exquisite artwork becomes the setting for Tales from The Woven O, a specially commissioned programme of accessible theatre and storytelling from Graeae, the UK’s leading disabled-led theatre company. Discover the transformative power of nature in a unique feast for the senses that will immerse you in reflections of the past, present and future. Through spoken word, movement, and tactile interactions, alongside a beautiful soundscape, you’ll have the opportunity to move in a moon dance, touch butterfly wings and listen to wild secrets from the earth. All performances will be accessible with BSL and audio descriptions.

Look Mum No Hands, presented By Daryl & Co and Mimbre © Rachel Hardwick
House of Oak and Iron, presented by House of Suarez © Guy J Sanders
Sleep Walker, presented by the royal ballet with Joe Powell-Main © Royal Opera House.
Out of The Deep Blue presented by Autin Dance Theatre © Melissa Hommel

Performances from leading theatre and dance companies include original new work as well as touring productions from Graeae, Common Wealth, Speakers Corner and Fuel, Gobbledegook Theatre, Royal Ballet, Protein Dance, Fevered Sleep, Chris Green, Tara Theatre, Middle Child Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company. GDIF’s annual ‘festival within a festival, the Greenwich Fair returns to the Old Royal Naval College and Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich, Dancing City, a two-day feast of outdoor dance at Canary Wharf is also back for a 2022 edition. On Your Doorstep, a hyper-local family-friendly street art programme will also be delivered in neighbourhoods across Greenwich and East London.

Migrare, presented By Cia Maduixa © Juan Gabriel Sanz
Crowd_Ctrl, presented by AndroidX + MHz © Tiu Makkonen