The GDIF is returning in spectacular fashion

Dan Acher, Borealis

Dan Acher, Borealis ©David Solm


If you’ve never seen the northern lights in real life, this year’s Greenwich+Docklands International Festival is giving you the chance to enjoy Swiss artist Dan Acher’s recreation of the celestial phenomenon this August.

Borealis will light up the sky over Greenwich in spectacular fashion on the first day of London’s leading outdoor performing arts festival. 

This mesmerising installation will be one of two installations from Dan Acher, joining We Are Watching, a flag as tall as a 10-storey building, which will be raised in Greenwich on 27 August to open the Festival, and in anticipation of the forthcoming COP26 Climate Change Summit.

Taking place from 27 August – 11 September across Royal Greenwich, the City of London, Canary Wharf, Thamesmead and the Royal Docks, this year’s Festival programme is responding to pressing current issues including climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, disability access and community resilience as we emerge from the pandemic, while also providing some much-needed optimism and hope with its uplifting and spectacular theatre, dance, street arts and installations.


Dan Acher, Borealis

Dan Acher, Borealis ©Chloe Elizabeth

Dan Acher, We Are Watching

Dan Acher, We Are Watching ©Miguel Bueno


Bradley Hemmings, artistic director of GDIF, said: “Last year, GDIF became the first major live festival in the country to take place since lockdown, and this year we’ve set out to build on this with productions offering audiences an experience, which will be every bit as rich and diverse as anything they might traditionally expect in theatres or cultural buildings. Over the last year outdoor theatre-makers have proved themselves to be resourceful and resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges and this year’s festival will demonstrate the extraordinary quality and originality of their work.”

Closing the festival, on 10 and 11 September, will be a programme of installations, street arts, theatre and circus entitled Healing Together. These will build on the Festival’s previous work with communities in Woolwich and North Woolwich. Reflecting on our collective lockdown learnings and hope for society and nature post-pandemic, Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) will present the Recovery Poems. Through talking and listening to communities, artists Robert Montgomery and Deanna Rodger have created an inspiring light poem that will visit public spaces as a backdrop for workshops, performances and reflections.

Many events will be ticketed but free to enable social distancing, in line with current government guidelines. Visit for information and tickets.