The long-standing dormant Crystal Palace Bowl in South London has been transformed ahead of the new 8,500-capacity open-air concert series South Facing, which commences this Friday (6 August).

The series, promoted by Loudsound and directed by Field Day (cap. 40,000) co-founder Marcus Weedon, will run until the 29August and will host the likes of The Streets, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dizzee Rascal and English National Opera.

The site’s revival is being led by The Crystal Palace Trust which raised £61,750 through its Back the Bowl crowdfunding campaign launched in February. This included £18,000 from the Mayor of London via his Make London scheme for community infrastructure projects, along with contributions from more than a thousand individuals.

The site is steeped in history and the revival comes 60 years after the amphitheatre stage was built and 50 years since it began hosting the likes of Pink Floyd, Elton John and Bob Marley. It also held the Great Exhibition 170 years ago where the world’s loudest speaker at the time was debuted. It also hosted the Pageant of London 110 years ago – the UK’s largest event to take place in that century.

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Following the concert series, the Trust will use Ekki timber to restore the stage surface of the ‘Rusty Laptop’ stage, which is located just behind the South Facing stage that floats above a small lake. The first phase of this will start this Autumn with subsequent phases in 2022 to make the venue fully operational.

Free entertainment, including film, music and workshop events will also be held at the park for the local community during the week as part of the August show series. Crystal Palace Park will also host Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival (50,000) for the first time on 10-12 September, just over the hill from where South Facing is taking place.

The Bowl’s architect Ian Ritchie said, “This part of Crystal Palace Park was one of the most beautiful and well maintained, and one of the few areas that has not changed significantly since it was laid out by [Joseph] Paxton.

“The natural bowl has a focus in the small lake with its foliage backdrop. The concert platform exists in two states; empty and silent in the winter as a part of the landscape; full in the summer with orchestra, colour, sound and audience.”

Read the Q&A with South Facing co-founder Marcus Weedon here.

Gallery images: Luis Kramer