VAULT Festival in London - 27th January to 6th March

By Phoebe Wood

In the vast underground space that spans Waterloo station an eclectic mix of entertainment is coming to London from the 27th January to the 6th March. For 6 weeks the cavernous tunnels will play host to an unending selection of comedy, theatre, one-man shows, films and music that capture everything from real life to the unbelievably abstract.

Like London’s version of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (but not all free, unfortunately) you’ll find enough culture at VAULT Festival to last the year. Open every Wednesday to Sunday for the 6 weeks you can find:


The VAULT Film Festival, new this year and only on every Sunday in February, but they’ve packed the four days with showcasing all the range from micro shorts to foreign films, with a general rule of ‘Pay What You Like’. The longest film is 31 minutes long and the selection comes from a range of European countries so you won’t find yourself nodding off at any point.


For Food & Drink the Suffolk Punch is a pub-style pop-up restaurant that is catering the whole festival. It’s got all the usual comforts on the menu that you’d expect, such as burgers and pies, but all with a gourmet twist. Relax in between shows with unique food or while away the winter evenings in the late-night bar. It has an award-winning team behind it and Sunday is Pizza Day with 2-4-1 between 3 and 6.

LATES encompasses all the vein-throbbing, skin-tingling, after hour events for those wanting to carry on until the sun rises. Every Friday and Saturday night hosts exclusive ticketed events, while Thursday is where the weekend officially starts with a selection of DJs. If you’re partial to a bit of Folk Wednesday night is run by The Nest Collective, named BBC Folk Club of 2010. One-off LATES events include:

  • Fat Tuesday brings Mardi Gras to the Vaults on the 5th & 6th February. Tipped as London’s biggest, baddest Mardi Gras party, Mississippi is being brought to the banks of the Thames through the avenues of dancing, revelry and rhythm ‘n’ blues. The party continues in the dark of the tunnels where you can sin, judgement free, until the early hours.

  • For anyone looking to make a weekend of it, the 12th and 13th February play host to the Love Potion Valentine’s Ball, hosted by The Artful Badger. As the name suggests magic will be brewing, for those single and socialising or taken and revelling – either way there’s something for everyone with secret rooms, games, bands and more.

  • Time Out partners with Denim (a 5-part drag girl band) to present Leap Year Party on the 28th February, a night of entertainment from only queer performers. Raising money for MAC AIDS Foundation this is a night unlike any other you’ll have been to, so just open your eyes, ears and minds to one hell of a spectacular drag experience. You won’t regret it.

  • Of course LATES wouldn’t be complete without a Silent Disco. Showcased as ‘FILTH’ this is sure to be a silent disco with an exceptionally naughty twist. Exactly what that is you’ll just have to find out on the night of the 19th February.

SURGE is the undercurrent to the whole Festival and provides free, brain-stimulating events. Including workshops, talks, Q&As, from script-writing to addressing mental health, SURGE offers you the chance to get involved, voice your ideas, listen to interesting discussions and meet like mind people.


For something a little calmer throughout the festival hours the VAULTS Gallery is open with multi-media piece from photography to video to live performance art. Free to attend, it adds a whole expressive dimension to the Festival. Discover and be inspired.


And lastly for any of you with under-11s to entertain there’s a whole Mini VAULT Festival made up of a circus, face painting, storytelling, games and more – it’s even extended to the very young with free soft play for under 3s.


This is just a picking of a few highlights from the programme to give you a taste of what will be pulsing under the pavement of Waterloo come the 27th January. For more details on these events, and many more that will clear your winter blues, check out the full VAULT Festival info at

Alistair RedfernComment