If you can’t afford Hackney, head for the birthplace of David Beckham: Leytonstone. It sits in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which is Sadiq Khan’s first ever London Borough of Culture for 2019. This means a massive year for culture in Leytonstone, much of it inspired by its previous residents including Damon Albarn, Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Fanny Cradock, and spanning music, theatre, film, immersive experience – and street parties.
London Borough of Culture aside, Leytonstone has plenty going on to keep its residents occupied. Luna Lounge is an independent bar with live music seven nights a week and has been recipient of the Time Out Loves London award many times over. New music venue St John’s Music Hall is a 350 capacity church venue with a dynamic program of world music.
Leytonstone Arts Trail is now in its 10th year. It’s where residents are encouraged to display their artworks in windows and gardens through the summer months. Head to Leytonstone Library on the first Wednesday of the month for the Pop Up Cinema film club.
Shake the High Road is Leytonstone’s annual one-day music festival which spans Luna Lounge, the Red Lion Pub and Ex-Servicemen’s Club – last year saw snooker legend Steve Davis spinning disks! Leyton Technical Pub is the gloriously refurbished old town hall with a 1 a.m. licence, monthly comedy nights, pub quizzes and pop-up markets. They have regular acoustic nights, plus soul and blues jam sessions.
If that’s not enough culture for you, hop across to Walthamstow to visit the beautiful William Morris Gallery, and catch the exhibition of exquisite paper cuts by Rob Ryan.
OK, so you don’t come to Leytonstone for Michelin stars, but there’s a blossoming bar and restaurant scene developing here nonetheless.
Head to Marmelo Kitchen for minimalist decor, sustainable food and a seasonal menu mixing innovation with timeless classics.
Family run Wild Goose Bakery is a wonderfully cosy place to while away an afternoon of reading scripts with vintage furniture, bone china teacups and a tantalising array of treats and cakes.
The Heathcote and Star Pub has been slickly refurbished and has a new menu encompassing burgers, hot dogs, comfort food and roasts. They have a monthly club night and draw on Leytonstone’s rich musical heritage to bring together local talent pool of killer DJs, producers, collectors and selectors. Ping pong, pool and live football also feature at the pub. Saturday is brunch day. Wednesdays diners get 20% off food. The Coach and Horses is a landmark boozer dating back to 1863. It has just been refurbished and has live music twice a week.
London Underground: It takes 20 minutes to reach the centre of town on the Central Line from Leytonstone Underground Station.
Overground: Leytonstone High Road is served by London Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
Buses: Bus 257 heads towards Stratford, W15 goes towards Hackney and the N8 travels to central London ending in Tottenham Court Road.
Crossrail: Maryland Station is in the South End of Leytonstone where the Crossrail Line passing from Shenfield to Liverpool Street Station will be running by the end of 2019.
Leytonstone is one of the more affordable areas of London. Single rooms in a house share start at £85 per week and one-bedroom flats start at around £215 per week.
Plenty of open spaces to choose from here. Wanstead Park and Leyton Jubilee Park are great spots for a run. Epping Forest is close by, where you can hire a rowing boat at Hollow Ponds or just cycle around the lakes. The City of London oversees 60 football pitches at Wanstead Flats and there are 5K parkruns there weekly.
If cycling is your thing then join the North Star Vélo cycling club. Leytonstone Leisure Centre has a state-of-the-art gym over two floors, 25m swimming pool, badminton and fitness class studios. Head there for serious workouts, or head to Leytonstone Lagoon for a fun splash about with flumes and jets.
Sahaja Yoga meditation offers a free yoga and meditation class every Thursday night. Leyton Yoga has a full timetable of yoga classes with drop-in classes starting at £12. Pause Yoga includes pilates and barre work in its timetable. Classes are bookable online and available to buy in bundles.
It’s in the London Borough of Culture!
Festivals aside, there’s not a lot of theatre.
Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!