Festival in London (1951)

This film documents the Festival of Britain, held in 1951 to mark the centenary of the Great Exhibition.

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Film details

Alternative titles

  • London in Festival Year Alternative


The Festival was seen by the Labour government as a ‘tonic for the nation’ and a national celebration of recovery from the privations of the immediate postwar years. The film was produced for the Central Office of Information and directed by Philip Leacock, an experienced documentarist who would shortly direct his first fiction feature, Appointment in London (1952).

With stirring music in the form of William Alwyn’s Festival March, Festival in London was a propaganda tool for international distribution announcing that Britain was back in business. The Festival itself would also be the precursor to national celebrations of the New Elizabethan Age in 1953.

With London still coping with the devastation of war, a site was chosen on London’s South Bank to create a vision of the future. Fantastic structures, including the Dome of Discovery and the Skylon, were built alongside the Royal Festival Hall and the Telekinema. A pleasure garden was created at Battersea where families could enjoy all the fun of the fair.

The Festival Hall remains and in 2011 celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain. The Telekinema, built to show specially–commissioned 3D films, was renamed the National Film Theatre and was later rebuilt a short distance from its original site. It is now BFI Southbank.

Cast & Credits

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