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Summer is festival time, and we don’t just mean the bank-breaking, big field and music in the country variety. London is teeming with small-scale local festivals offering al fresco entertainment for an affordable fee.

Take this weekend’s The Chap Olympiad. It celebrates the true English gent in all his corduroy-wearing, moustached glory. It’s tongue-in-cheek, of course, with chaps and chappesses dressing up in their Remains Of The Day-style finest. Pipe smoking is obligatory and gin-quaffing essential as ‘chap’ skills are put to the test in events such as umbrella jousting, butler baiting and moustache wrestling.

Competitive they are not, though. In fact, sporting skills or aptitude of any kind are detrimental to any hopes one has of winning. 

“There are no competitive sports at the Olympiad,” head chappess Bethan Garland tells us. “In fact, points are deducted for sporting prowess of any kind. We do, however, have some leisurely new pastimes this year, such as tea pursuit and beach volley bowler.” 

Chaps must possess, Garland tells us, “sharp trouser creases, well groomed facial hair and an air of rakish charm”. Antipodeans are not excluded from showing off their chappish charisma, either. “We are true admirers of our Antipodean cousins, for we are all true to one Queen,” Garland explains. “As long as no flip flops are seen! In fact, we had an Antipodean winner of the gold cravat last year,” she hastens to add. 

If the no jeans policy is not your thing – or your facial hair is too poorly groomed – fear not, there are loads more local fests over the course of the summer months. 

The Ealing Comedy Festival, turning 20 years old this year and forming part of the borough’s wider arts and culture summer season, is five days of stand-up tomfoolery and has an assortment of stars featuring on stage. 

Kiwi act The Boy With Tape On His Face will be showing off his silent skills, alongside Paul Chowdhry, Lee Mack, Omid Djalili, Piff the Magic Dragon (above) and Paul Sinha (below), who TNT caught up with.

Sinha, who has six Edinburgh Fringe shows under his belt, turned his back on a prestigious medical career to go the stand-up route (or play the clown, if you listen to his parents).

“The show will have the usual mix of incisive social comment and emotionally involving anecdotes,” he says. “And crude nob gags!”

Sinha’s stand-up is observational and personal, drawing on his transition from the white coat brigade to stand-up, a career change his parents have forgiven him for since he bought them Sky+ (“bribery will get you everywhere”). 

He has a forthcoming Radio 4 series, too, Paul Sinha’s Citizenship Test, all about what it means to be British.

“It looks at what the government thinks you need to know to call yourself British, what we actually know, and what we should know,” he tells us, demonstrating his trademark mix of the serious and silly. “It covers everything from the Magna Carta to JLS.”

From iron board surfing to clowning doctors, London has it all this summer...



Chap Olympiad, July 13. £20  
Bedford Square, WC1B 3RA  
Tube | Goodge Street 

Ealing Comedy Fest,
July 12-13; 17-19. £18.50  
Walpole Park, W5 5EQ  
Tube | Ealing Broadway


Local summer festivals: From literary love-ins to gin-drenched chap-offs and comedy events
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