When it comes to arts, music and films, London has always been in the centre of attention. There has never been a dull moment in the capital, whether it’s the middle of a week or a weekend. This year will be one of the most exciting one in the history of London. For the first time, on May 15, 16 and 17 Festival Asia will take over Tobacco Dock.
Constructed in 1811, Tobacco Dock served as a primary store for imported tobacco. Over a hundred years later, in 1990 the building was altered into a shopping centre. However, since mid-1990s the structure has been mostly unoccupied. In 2003, English Heritage placed it on the Building at Risk Register. From time to time, Tobacco Dock is used for large corporate events such as the Tattoo Convention, the Taste Food Festival, Hyper Japan and many more. It is, without question, an amazing venue to organise such a large festival like Festival Asia.
I was thrilled when the event’s organisers said that the festival “is set apart by any other event through encompassing all Asian cultures.” I thought, however, “Is it even possible to arrange such a thing?” I guess it is, because Festival Asia will host most Asian countries: “You will be entertained, moved and enlightened (…)”. You will definitely be able to find various interesting things at Tobacco Dock. It will be like “travelling the whole of Asia in a few hours.”
Sunny Singh- Bollywood Dancer
In those three days the festival will present to us Asian food, fashion, art, traditional and modern music performances from countries such as South Korea, which will be represented by a very talented violinist Eunsley Park and Kaya, who will be playing Kayagum. Apart from South Korea, there will be artists from China– Cheng Yu; internationally renowned pipa and guqin virtuoso and Amy Yuan, Erhu player. Hibiki Ichikawa – Tsugaru Shamiseu player and Akari Mochizaku – Enka singer will represent Japan. Djitron Pah, an Indonesian musician, will show off his talent whilst playing a harp and the Philippines’ Lahing Kayumanggi dance group will show the audience how to move. It is worth mentioning that LK is a “Dance Company rooted in the folk culture and traditions of the Philippines.” I can assure you they are amazing performers who “demonstrates the rich and diverse culture of the Philippines.” I could keep on writing about all the performers, however, there are just too many to mention them all.
Apart from music and performances there will be various other things to experience such as a Cultural Room, where you will be able to find out more about Asian countries. There will be over 100 exhibitors including Japanese Kimono, Yoga Centers, Anime, Clothes, Food, Calligraphy, Games, Massage, Meditation, Traditional Swords, Paintings, Jewellery, Religious Temples and Meditation Centres, Art, Henna, Languages, Travel, Holidays and many more. I am very excited to see and experience Spiritual Room. As you may already know “Asia has traditionally given to the world an enormous wealth of spirituality which has in the last century more and more been penetrated by the west.” The Spiritual Room will introduce you to Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taosim, Jainism, Skikhism, Zoroastranism, Zen and Yoga.
Kaya- South Korean Traditional Musician
I absolutely loved everything that I read about Festival Asia so far. I got so excited about it that I decided to have a chat with one of the Lilisan’s CEOs Corrado Canonici who was greatly thrilled to talk about the event.
It was one of those cold evenings in London when we decided to meet in a small café at Victoria Station. With a giant cup of green tea in my hand, I started our conversation by asking Corrado what was behind the project and how it came about. He was insightful, wryly funny and generously friendly “I was always passionate about Asia. It all started when I was very young, I read many books about it. I was truly fascinated by Asian philosophy and its culture. Years later, I started to work with the Chinese singer Li Li and, after a while, I asked her: why don’t we organise something together like an Asian Festival. I realised that there are events showcasing Asian culture, however, one or two countries. I really wanted to create an event that celebrates the entire Asian continent (…). At first I thought it was a crazy idea. It took us a year to do all the research, collect the data and build up a contact list. Bit by bit we started to plan properly. Look where we are now! The festival will have its debut in May”.
Eunsley Park- South Korean Violin Player
LiLisan Ltd, in collaboration with Barley Arts International, has managed to team up with various people who are currently helping with the festival, especially LycaMobile, a huge mobile phone provider, which became the festival’s official sponsor. With great excitement, Corrado said that “the amount of things that will be showed at Festival Asia will definitely blow the audience’s mind.” As mentioned before, there will be over 100 exhibitors, various musicians and performers participating in the festival. For those who are endlessly hungry “there will be food that will make you lose control of your diet and give you the opportunity to taste the whole of Asia in one go.” I reckon it will be my favourite area at the festival; food is always good.
I noticed that Corrado is particularly excited about Martial Arts performances “We want people to be there to see Japanese Shorinji Kempo, Korean Hapkido, Taekwondo and Karate. I would like them to see as much as possible. Every half an hour we will have different Martial Arts’ performers on stage.” We both agreed that Festival Asia will be a big and an exciting event; Corrado admitted that “Loads of work went into it.” After looking for a proper place to organise the festival, the team agreed on doing it in Tobacco Dock, the place has “an incredible character. First of all, it is very central, it is near Tower Hill station and not too far from London Bridge. As a venue Tobacco Dock is simply amazing to hold a big event such as our festival. There is enough space to do everything. It’s a perfect place for us.”
With big smiles on our faces, Corrado and I ended the conversation. I must admit I am very excited about the festival. Do not forget to get your tickets to the event. Festival Asia will be held 15th- 17th May 2015 at Tobacco Dock, E1W 2SF. Tickets are priced at; Adults £12.50 in advance £15 on door. Children £8 in advance £10 on door. For more information about the event please visit www.festivalasia.co.uk. You can follow Festival Asia on social media for latest announcements and news: Facebook- FestivalAsia and Twitter @FestivalAsiaUK.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Jess Murray
Pictures courtesy of Festival Asia and the photographer