The Bowler Hat

Tickets for events go on sale on 8 April to Festival Friends, and 15 April to the general public.

The Bowler Hat

Monday 23 June to Thursday 17 July 2014

Venue: The Bowler Hat, Paternoster Square, London, EC4M

This summer, an inflatable pop-up venue in the shape of a bowler hat will dominate Paternoster Square, next to St Paul’s Cathedral. Standing at over 10 metres high – the equivalent of 3 storeys – the bespoke Bowler Hat will play host to over 100 events, including children’s theatre, cabaret, comedy, and circus. The 212-seat structure will allow audiences to enjoy renowned performers in an intimate space. 

The Bowler Hat will host a busy and eclectic programme, with the likes of world-class puppeteers Little Angel Theatre during the day, commuter-hour debates on City-related themes of Justice, Money and Power, and evening shows featuring stand-up satirists Richard Herring and Andy Zaltzman, award-winning acrobatic circus artists Pirates of the Carabina, and Judy & Liza, a musical homage to the legendary stars of stage and screen, Judy Garland and bowler hat-wearing Liza Minnelli.

The design is modelled on the original bowler hat, created in 1849 by the world’s oldest hat shop, Lock & Co, to protect a gamekeeper’s head from overhanging branches. An icon long associated with the City of London, the unmistakable hat became an essential part of every City worker’s uniform – by the 1950s, businessmen wouldn’t be seen in the Square Mile without one. With its added showbiz connotations, thanks to Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, James Bond villain Oddjob, and celebrities such as Keira Knightley, the Bowler Hat is an ideal motif for the Festival.

Paul Gudgin, in his first year as Director of the City of London Festival, said: “The City of London is an exceptional place for a festival – full of extraordinary spaces, buildings, and people. By taking a City icon and transforming it in this way, we believe the Bowler Hat will prove to be a striking, popular and fun addition to London’s cultural scene this summer”.

Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of London, said: “I am delighted to see one of the City’s historic, and most iconic symbols – the bowler hat – revived for the City of London Festival. We have no doubt that new audiences will be bowled over by the Bowler Hat venue – which is bringing a smile to us all!”

Since the Festival started in 1962, impressive orchestral concerts have been staged under the dome of St Paul’s – providing audience-goers with wonderful and unique acoustics; the Bowler Hat will provide a new dome with its unique acoustics in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. The venue, an impressive 435 square metre bespoke inflatable home for children’s theatre, circus, cabaret, and comedy in the shape of a 3-storey high bowler hat, designed to sit in Paternoster Square from 23 June until 19 July.

Director of the Festival, Paul Gudgin, said about the choice of the bowler shape for the venue “…we’re identifying ourselves with where we are, but it’s a little bit subversive at the same time”.

The image shows an artist’s impression of the Bowler Hat Theatre.



St Paul’s 2mins walk


Newgate Street 8, 25, 56, 100, 242, 521

Access Information for The Bowler Hat

Paternoster Square

This document has been compiled by the City of London Festival event management staff from information taken from our site visits and by consulting venue managers. Although every effort has been made to ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date, some details may be subject to change. If you are in any doubt, please contact the Festival office.

If you have queries, require any further information or would like to comment on Festival access issues, please call the Festival office on 020 7583 3585.

Car Parking

Nearest NCP car park on 158-170 Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4HY

Wheelchair Access

Level access from all around the square.

Disabled Toilet

Paternoster Lodge toilets will have extended opening hours during the Festival: weekdays and Saturdays 7.15 am – 9.15 pm daily, and Sundays 7.15 am – 7.00 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

C-12 Trolleys

Next Story

City Lyrics