Punch and Judy festival in London

Punch and Judy Festival in Covent Garden, (photo by James Macdonald)
Punch and Judy Festival in Covent Garden

Happy 350th Birthday Mr. Punch

If you are looking for things to do in London this weekend you may be interested in a unique free festival taking place in the grounds of St Paul’s church in Covent Garden on Sunday (13th May). Long a staple of British seaside entertainment, the characters from the Punch and Judy puppet show are also linked to the centre of London. Samuel Pepys mentioned the puppet show taking place in Covent Garden back in 1662 and since then the market area has been the spiritual home of the terribly behaved menace to society. The tale of his misdemeanors, gruesome antics and occasional murders have delighted children ever since.

The courtyard of St Paul’s church will see shows take place from around the world with an incredible array of interpretations of the story, from the traditional tales (showing violence and capital punishment), past some modern politically correct updates, through to frankly surreal versions. The key characters are on the receiving end of boos and heckles throughout, with appearances from crocodiles, policemen, babies and sausages – lots and lots of sausages.

As well as the short puppet shows you can also immerse yourself in maypole dancing, live music and a welcoming open church. If the weather is good, it is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, comparing the different ways the same story can be interpreted by the 'professors' (puppeteers).

Take some coins for the collection box after each show and marvel at the stalls selling everything from handcrafted Mr. & Mrs. Punch to bubble mixture and cupcakes.

All together now… “That's the way to do it!”

If you are interesting in discovering more unique and interesting events, places and inspirational ideas for a day in London, look to our Select guide to the city.