Image credit: © Jonathon Vines

4 July 2013

Residents, office workers and visitors to Waterloo experienced a ‘Fantasy High Street’ today

Fantasy High Street, the brand new arts festival that celebrates the local high street, unveiled its first pilot festival today in Lower Marsh, Waterloo. Visitors and passers-by dined at Waterloo’s pop-up Fantasy Café, visited vintage clothing boutique What the Butler Wore for a Fantasy Window Display and discovered the Loveliness of Lower Marsh in a new exhibition at Café del Marsh.

Fantasy High Street is a completely new model for arts festivals that explores the social, cultural and economic values of the high street and public space. This brand new festival commissions high profile artists to take over empty shops and work with existing businesses and retailers to create interactive events and experiential shops over 3 days. The Lower Marsh pilot festival is its first major event, and is delivered in partnership with local business improvement district Waterloo Quarter.

Fantasy Café, created by immersive performance wizards StampCollective, is a unique dining experience. Diners meet at Emma Cons Gardens, opposite the Old Vic Theatre, and play an interactive game in order to discover Fantasy Café’s secret location in Lower Marsh. At Fantasy Café the meals are surreal, memories are on the menu, and the diner is at the heart of the performance. Open between 10am-5pm from Thursday 4 – Saturday 6 July, Fantasy Café costs £8 per person.

The Loveliness of Lower Marsh exhibition is a collaboration between theatre and adventure makers Coney and Waterloo’s local community to explore the lovelier and playful sides of Lower Marsh. Open Thursday 4 July 10am-11pm, Friday 5 July 10am-5pm, Saturday 6 July 10.30am-5pm, and continues Monday 8th-Thursday 11th July 10am-5pm. FREE at Café del Marsh, 44 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RG

Fantasy Window Display is the result of a competition to find an exciting window display for the vintage clothes boutique What the Butler Wore. Visual artist Carrin Emma Robertson has transformed the shop window into a magical Kaleidoscope of Prints inspired by the vintage clothing boutique’s 60’s and 70’s clothing. OpenThursday 4 July to Saturday 6 July 11am-6pm

Food 4Thought is a multiwalks mobile phone app which allows anyone to visit Lower Marsh any time and from anywhere in the world! Artist Ali Zaidi offers a glimpse behind the street facades in Waterloo and reveals a feast of what’s grown, cooked and served in the neighbourhood.

Speaking about Fantasy High Street, founder and Creative Director Lydia Fraser-Ward said: “We’re incredibly excited to be working with such a stunning line up of renowned, high quality artists for our very first adventure in UK high streets. The Lower Marsh pilot marks just the beginning for Fantasy High Street; our plans are to work with other partners like Waterloo Quarter throughout London and the UK to creatively explore how arts and culture can play a crucial role in rejuvenating the high street and shaping its future role within local communities.”

Helen Santer, Chief Executive of Waterloo Quarter said: “Fantasy Café marks a hugely important partnership between Waterloo Quarter and Fantasy High Street. We have worked together to pool our expertise from cultural and business sectors to deliver an exciting new project which prompts important questions about the future of the British high street and tests new approaches to its reinvigoration.”

Fantasy High Street events launched today, Thursday 4 July, as part of national Independents’ Day, which celebrates UK independent businesses. The Lower Marsh pilot is also part of the annual Waterloo Quarter Food Festival which launched on 27th June 2013 and runs until the end of July.

Fantasy Café is one of a series of projects delivered through The Waterloo Portas Pilot project, supported by the Mayor of London and delivered by Waterloo Quarter BID in collaboration with the London Borough of Lambeth. The collaboration with Coney and forthcoming exhibition has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The Food 4Thought mobile phone app is part of motiroti’s multipliCities project, supported by the European Cultural Foundation, Arts Council England and Creativeworks London.

To find out more visit or follow Fantasy High Street on Twitter at @Fantasy_High_St

For more information about the Waterloo Quarter Food Festival visit