Old arcade games, beer tents, the greatest fireworks ever, the coolest old dodgem cars you’ve ever seen – welcome to Paradise Gardens and the Steam Fair!


merry go round

The bank holiday weekend was celebrated in the East End with an unusual carnival-style fair. It was partly based on the history of the Victoria Park gardens (old pleasure gardens like these are huge, and have pockets and twists and turns everywhere. In the old days much mischief would have happened here – tents with illegal drinking, whoring, gambling and circus style acts). The idea of the tents was taken on, but this time round they were inhabited with shops, food, performances and other strange and wonderful sights.

Rifle Range

Laughing Gas


In one corner was a true old-style carnival-ground, with rides and arcade games. But the rides were creaky and old-school and the arcade games were wooden and skill based. No flashing lights here, only the sound of pinging metal balls and swivelling levers!


Steer ball

The night was a total hit with the most awe-inspiring fireworks I’ve ever seen. The stage was filled with five drummers wearing crazy electric drums harnessed to their bodies. They all whooped and danced and drummed away, and fireworks happened over their heads and around them for thirty minutes. It was the coolest stage show I’ve ever seen. Fireworks even came out of the instruments (yep – actually out of their drums, shooting into the air) and from all around the stage and filled the sky above us.

drummers on stage