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Waterloo Festival 2021: Respair | May & June


Respair, the return of hope after a period of despair, is a word that fell out of use many centuries ago but we’re reviving it as we celebrate the brighter future that vaccines will bring and the rebirth of real-life creativity and shared experience.

We’re also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, a “return of hope”, for which St John’s, badly damaged by a war-time bomb, was restored and made the official Festival Church. Now, as then, out of a period of crisis and loss comes a fresh determination to make the world a better place. We’ll be championing the renewed focus on equality, inclusion and climate change that has emerged during the pandemic.

At the end of the Festival, St John’s will close for a major restoration, its first since 1951. Before it disappears under cladding, we’re inviting creative partners from across London to use our much-loved London landmark, its crypt and churchyard, as their canvas to celebrate respair and to anticipate the re-opening of St John’s in 2022, restored to its Festival of Britain glory, fit to serve the community, and a beacon of hope for the century to come.


Drawing of the garden at St John's Waterloo by David Bassadone

Featuring La La Land by Peter Avery as it appeared in Nothing Endures But Change:

An outdoors sculpture exhibition curated by Susan Haire, Waterloo Festival 2018