A controversial K-pop festival is going ahead in Southwark Park this summer, the organisers have announced.
MIK, which will see part of the Bermondsey park shut off for two weeks in late July and early August, is going ahead on the weekend of July 30-31.
Festival organisers Magic Sound were originally given permission last year, before changes to the Covid rules meant it had to be called off.
Local councillors, the Southwark Park Association 1869, and the park’s cricket club had all called on the council not to give permission for the festival.
The festival will run for two days from 12pm to 10.15pm, with a capacity of 15,000 people. Organisers have also got a license to sell alcohol on site until 9.30pm both nights – despite an initial consultation document on the council’s website saying there would be no alcohol sold at the event. The council said there will be no alcohol allowed on the site.
MIK is set to be the first open-air K-pop festival in Europe. Organisers want to make the event an annual occurrence.
The festival would take place on the cricket pitch in the southern part of the park, bounded by the cafe and gallery to the north, and the athletics track to the south.
Building this year would start on the morning of July 20 and the dismantling process would finish in the evening of August 5 – meaning disruption to the usual functioning of the park over more than two weeks in total.
A spokesperson for the Southwark Park association 1869 said: “We are disappointed but sadly not surprised at the decision to go ahead with MIK K-POP. This deal was done long ago for purely monetary reasons. Southwark Park has simply been rented out for a large-scale commercial event because the locality suits the organisers, who laughingly are claiming the event is “embracing nature.”
“Tell that to the public whose normal access to the park will be disrupted and reduced during the heart of the summer holidays! Seriously, where are the benefits for local people? The Council have noted people’s objections but ignored them. All this in the year that the funds for the popular, long-standing Bermondsey Carnival have been slashed.”
Rachel Bentley, a local resident and councillor for North Bermondsey ward, said: “We are opposed in principle to the use of public parks for commercial profit and are disappointed that the council has failed to listen to concerns of local residents. We ask that a portion of the revenue made by the council from the K-Pop festival be used to restore full funding to the Bermondsey Carnival.
“This is particularly important in light of the cost-of-living crisis where many local households are struggling to meet every day expenses. The community would benefit from an opportunity to come together to attend the free Bermondsey Carnival in their much-loved park. Many local residents do not have access to private gardens and the past two years have really brought home the value of our precious shared green spaces.”
Cllr Alice Macdonald, Labour cabinet member for equalities, neighbourhoods and leisure, said: “Income from commercial events, like the MIK K-Pop festival, is a major source of funding for all of our council-funded, free, community events.
“So the K-Pop Festival is already helping to finance Bermondsey Carnival. But it is also supporting nine other events that celebrate a wealth of different cultures, here in Southwark. These events are led by and happening within communities across the borough, this year.”