Bartholomew and Cloth Fairs 2023

The City of London Corporation’s visitor site has the full programme for the main Bartholomew Fair. See below for more details of programmes, and a map of locations at the bottom of the page.

The Fair has returned to its roots in Cloth Fair and Smithfield during the third week

Cloth Fair 2023

Cloth Fair – St Bartholomew the Great on the right 41-42 Cloth Fair on the left

Yvonne Courtney introduces the Cloth Fair programme which has been coordinated by Matthew Bell in association with St Bartholomew the Great. Yvonne is running a reinvented clothing popup shop from 10-16 September.

“Cloth Fair itself runs alongside the St Bartholomew the Great church, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital – both celebrating their 900th anniversary in 2023.

“Besides its textiles heritage, the area also has a strong literary tradition – with this in mind, to complement Bartholomew Fair – Cloth Fair’s community are celebrating their locality’s rich heritage with a series of cloth-related and written and spoken word happenings.

“A revival of two longstanding, much-loved traditions – both of which originated at St Bartholomew the Great. The now commonplace tradition of ribbon-cutting first took place in Cloth Fair. Signifying Bartholomew Fair’s new beginning and its historic origins in and around Cloth Fair – Damien Hirst has designed a special ribbon for the City’s Lord Mayor to cut as the opening ceremony.

“The first disputations took place at St Bartholomew’s in the Middle Ages and were the forerunner of parliamentary debates, initiating the concept of a lively and rigorous exchange of ideas designed to persuade an audience”.

St Bartholomew the Great

St Bartholomew the Great gatehouse in West Smithfield

All Bartholomew Fair – Cloth Fair events at St Bartholomew the Great

Ribbon cutting and The Great Disputation

Reports and video of these opening events

Wednesday 30 August 2023
St Bartholomew the Great
57 Smithfield London EC1A 9DS
The event is free but you need to book – details here

The ribbon cutting will take place outside the church gatehouse in West Smithfield at 6.30. Google map link.

The bar is open from 6pm. The debate will be from 7pm – 8.30 pm. The bar will be closed during the debate and open from the end of the debate until 10 pm.

The proposition ‘This House believes that the love of money is the root of the nation’s evils’ will be debated by high profile speakers from the City, politics and the Church – including Michael Gove, MP, Eddie Dempsey, Aaron Bastani and Alan Smith, chaired by the Bishop of London, The Rt. Revd. Sarah Mullally.

Direct link to Eventbrite

Parish Garden Party

10 September 2023 12.30
Free at St Bartholomew the Great

In celebration of our 900th anniversary, we are holding a parish garden party on this day, Sunday 10th September, to coincide with the City of London’s celebration of Bartholomew Fair. The party will start after the 11:00 Choral Eucharist. All are welcome and there are no tickets. The bars will be selling wine and soft drinks. We are asking people to bring food. If you would like to come to the party, please consider bringing an edible contribution. More information on how to contribute.

William Blake Society talk by Stephen Pritchard

14 September 1pm
Free at St Bartholomew the Great

This illustrated talk will introduce the poetry, prose and art of William Blake and explore his complex relationship with London through his life and work.

William Blake, 1757 to 1827, was a visionary poet, painter, engraver, and musician. He had no formal education but read widely in Greek philosophy and that of his contemporaries, and studied and challenged the psychological and philosophical ideas of the age. 

Book launch and Q and A: 41-42 Cloth Fair

14 September 6pm
Free at St Bartholomew the Great

To celebrate the paperback edition of Fiona Rule’s splendid book, The Oldest House in London – no. 41-42 Cloth Fair, owned by City councillor Matthew Bell.

The Cries of London: The Gentle Author

15 September 7pm
Free at St Bartholomew the Great

The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life presents a selection of images from his book, The Cries of London. For centuries, people who had no other means of income could sell wares in the street, and turned their presence into performance through song, winning the hearts of generations while embodying the spirit of London.

Drawing comparisons with Samuel Pepys, Henry Mayhew and Charles Dickens, The Gentle Author has gained an extraordinary following in recent years by writing hundreds of lively pen portraits of the infinite variety of people who live and work in the East End of London. Since 2009, The Gentle Author has published a daily story at SPITALFIELDS LIFE amounting to over 4,000 tales about the culture of London.

St Bartholomew the Great Music Festival

20-29 September 2023
Book events on Eventbrite.

Below is the programme for what promises to be an amazing festival in the extraordinary setting of the Church.

Reinvented Clothing Popup Shop

10-16 September 2023, 12-6pm
38 Bartholomew Close, Clerkenwell, London EC1A 7HP (Barbican tube)

An impromptu pop-up by local clothing label Goff Courtney, which reconstructs tailoring and shirting into ‘popovers’ – aka scarves, gilets, bibs and aprons. Modern classics with a subversive element. Predominantly age, size and gender inclusive.

Cut from the same cloth – more about the pop-up with a location map and video.

Bartholomew Fair 2023

Over three weeks of free stunning performances and cultural events as the City of London’s historic Bartholomew Fair is reimagined.

From 31 August to 16 September, the City will become the stage for an array of exciting, unique entertainment, and live performances taking place across the Square Mile. 

Bartholomew Fair, which dates back to the 12th century and was last held in 1855, began as a cloth fair and quickly became London’s pre-eminent event, entertaining visitors for over 700 years. It drew acts and crowds from all over the country and further afield. The City’s revival, which takes place from 31 August to 16 September, sees a programme of UK and internationally renowned artists bringing a modern twist in a spectacular celebration of contemporary culture and the City of London’s unique heritage.

The epic recreation of Bartholomew Fair in the City of London will see over 30 free events, live performances, and unique spectacles in a contemporary reimagining of the capital’s greatest historic event.

The exciting full programme includes the world-premiere of RESURGAM, a stunning vertical dance performance on St Paul’s Cathedral; Dinner for All, a major immersive theatrical circus experience; and Carnesky’s Showwomxn Spectacular, a new promenade theatrical show directed by Olivier award winner Marisa Carnesky.

Day-to-day programme and map

View official Bartholomew Fair schedule and map

Unofficial map of locations

Map and list of information sheets