Tower Bridge, Holborn Viaduct and London’s sewers among ‘fantastic feats’ celebrated by City Corporation’s outdoor events programme

Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Archive (City of London)

London’s historic achievements across architecture, engineering and invention provide the focus of an exciting series of public events commissioned by the City of London Corporation next year.

Fantastic Feats: the building of London (31 May – 1 December 2019) will celebrate London’s long-standing history of architectural and engineering firsts, and looks at how these innovations have contributed to improving the lives of Londoners over past centuries.

The programme is inspired by a number of key historical dates in these fields, including the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette (1819–91), the civil engineer responsible for creating London’s sewer system, which was key to relieving the city of cholera epidemics; the 125th anniversary of the completion of Tower Bridge; and the joint 150th anniversary of the openings of Blackfriars Bridge and Holborn Viaduct.

There will be a wide range of events, exhibitions, guided walking tours, street theatre, and art installations including a special commission by French artist Olivier Grossetête, best known for his giant outdoor architectural recreations of landmark buildings in cardboard. Street performances, featuring aerial and pyrotechnic displays, will also feature in the programme, as well as a 360-degree film experience of the City’s history inside Dome 360 and a moving trail of choreographed dancers across the City with Willi Dorner’s ‘Bodies in Urban Spaces’.

The events will take place around the Square Mile over six months, alongside London- wide initiatives through collaborations with multiple partners, including Culture Mile, the London Festival of Architecture (LFA), and Greenwich+Docklands International Festival.

Overall View © Illuminated River, Leo Villareal Studio, 2018

Partner initiatives include the River View design competition run by the City Corporation, in collaboration with LFA and Illuminated River Foundation to encourage greater public interaction with the River Thames, as well as the Illuminated River Project. Led by American artist, Leo Villareal, and London architects, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, 15 central London Thames bridges will be illuminated to create the world’s longest public art commission. The first four bridges – London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Cannon Street Bridge, and Millennium Bridge – will be lit in the City in summer 2019.

‘Architecture of London’, a new exhibition at the City Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery, will run from 31 May to 1 December 2019 to explore how the capital’s buildings have been depicted by, and provided inspiration for, artists over the centuries.

Graham Packham, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said:

“Over the course of its six-month run, ‘Fantastic Feats’ will celebrate some fascinating achievements, using a wide range of events including street theatre, music, art, and walks aimed at highlighting their significant impact upon London and Londoners.

“My colleagues and I at Guildhall are looking forward to the programme, and to being reminded of how remarkable – and fantastic – these feats were.”

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £100m every year.

The City Corporation is leading the development of Culture Mile along with its core partners the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London. Stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate, Culture Mile is a multi-million-pound investment which will create a new cultural and creative destination for London over the next 10 to 15 years. This includes £110m funding from the City Corporation to support the Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield and £2.5m to support the detailed business case for the proposed Centre for Music.

The full programme of events will be released in early 2019. For further information on Fantastic Feats: the building of London visit or follow @visitthecity or #FantasticFeats.