The countdown is now on for London Borough of Culture's opening weekend Welcome to the Forest! To help you prepare for your trip, we've put together some frequently asked questions from what to expect from the show to how to get here.

You can download a handy PDF of all the information listed below here.

About the event

What is Welcome to the Forest?
Waltham Forest is the first ever Mayor’s London Borough of Culture in 2019. The award is a major new initiative launched by the Mayor of London to put culture at the heart of London’s communities. Through collaboration between local residents, artists and creatives, the year will be a once in a lifetime celebration of the place we call home.

Welcome to the Forest is the opening event and will be the biggest party that Waltham Forest has ever seen, with a projection onto the Town Hall, a winter carnival along Forest Road and Nest, a huge light installation and soundscape on the island in Lloyd Park.

Find out more about each event site here

Where is the event happening?
Welcome to the Forest will take place in Walthamstow, East London. The main installations take place on Walthamstow Town Hall Campus (E17 4JF) and at Lloyd Park (E17 4PP) with activity along the length of Forest Road. You can download a map here. This will also be available in printed form at the event. 

When does the event take place?
The event takes place on the evenings of Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January 2019 and will run from 6pm until 9.30pm.

Do I need to be there at 6pm?
No, you can come at any time between 6pm and 9.30pm. The Town Hall show will be on loop every 30 minutes and Nest is repeated every 20 minutes, so just turn up at any time. Forest Road will include a variety of performers throughout each evening, so you could have a different expeirence every time you walk down the road. A perfect reason to come to all three evenings!

Is the event ticketed?
This is a FREE event and you do not require a ticket to gain entry to the site, everyone is welcome to come down and experience Welcome to the Forest

How long will it take to experience the event?
The installations at the Town Hall and in Lloyd Park take place on a loop, with the first installation beginning at 6pm and the last installation finishing around 9.30pm.

We estimate that it will take no longer than one hour to see all parts of the event. 

General event information & accessibility

Is the show suitable for children and families?
Yes, this event is suitable for families and people of all ages. 

Please be aware that we’re expecting the event to get very busy so please make sure children are supervised at all times.

Is the show wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the installations take place in step-free access areas of Waltham Forest Town Hall and Lloyd Park that are accessible for wheelchairs. The Town Hall and Lloyd Park have a significant amount of grassed viewing points, however there are hard ground routes through at each. This also applies to mobility scooters.

Is it suitable for those who are hard of hearing or deaf?
The installations are predominantly visual, but all include an audio soundtrack. The works have been designed to be enjoyed with or without audio.

BSL (British Sign Language) interpreters will be available for communication support and interpretation at this event for audiences who communicate using BSL.

There will be four BSL assisted walk-throughs of the show on Friday 11 January at 7pm & 8.30pm, and on Saturday 12 January at 7pm & 8.30pm. Places are limited and must be booked in advance. Please email with your preferred date and time allocation, including your full name and contact details.

Is there accessible parking available for Welcome to the Forest?
Accessible parking is available at both installation sites of Welcome to the Forest for Blue Badge holders.

For Nest at Lloyd Park this will be on Winns Terrace, which should be approached from the North via Winns Avenue.

For the projections on the Town Hall, accessible parking will be located behind the Magistrates Court. This should be accessed via the A112 onto Chandos Avenue and then through Farnan Avenue. The one-way system on Farnan Avenue will be suspended to allow Blue Badge and resident access.

Stewards will be briefed to direct vehicles displaying a Blue Badge to the routes above, and will permit entry via resident access.

Forest Road will remain closed to vehicles, and more details on the road closures can be found here.

Is the show suitable for someone with photosensitive epilepsy?
The installations contain flashing lights which could trigger photosensitive epilepsy.

What advice is there for people with sensory needs?
We expect the area to be very busy. If you or your child have a sensory need such as autism, you could plan to come towards the beginning or end of each evening. The first installation will begin at 6pm, and the final loop will finish around 9.30pm. Projections will include lights and sound, which could cause sensory overload. There will also be fire installations and neon lights on Forest Road. 

Will there be allocated seating available?
There is no outdoor seating provided at this event and fold out chairs will not be permitted within the event site. Visitors are permitted to bring their own walking stick seat if required.

What food and drink is available at the event? 
There will be a small number of food and drink traders selling a range of hot food and drinks adjacent to the Magistrates at the Town Hall and in front of the William Morris Gallery. There are also a number of businesses, cafes and other establishments that will be open in the local area. 

No other alcoholic drinks of any kind may be brought onto the event sites. Bags and full body searches will be in operation and any unopened containers may be confiscated. 

What do I do if I have any concerns about the event?
We hope that residents and visitors have very few concerns about the event, as measures have been taken to ensure it is enjoyable for all. There are security deployed throughout the event site and environmental impacts, such as noise, have been tested to ensure they are within limits allowed by the Council’s enforcement team. However, if you have any concerns about the event please contact the Council by calling 020 8496 3000. 

Will there be filming and photography at the event?
Yes. By entering this event you give your consent for your images to be used without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by LBWF including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, books, newspapers, magazines, television and websites.
If you have any concerns please raise them with the staff at the information marquee.

Full LBWF terms & conditions can be downloaded here

Travel, road closures & diversions

How do I get to the event?
All visitors to the event are being encouraged to use public transport, cycle or walk.

The nearest stations (within a 10-20 minute walk to the main event site) are:
•    Walthamstow Central Station (underground, overground and bus station)
•    Walthamstow Queen's Road (overground) 
•    Wood Street (overground) 
•    Blackhorse Road (underground and overground) 

Can I bring my bicycle to the event? 
You are encouraged to cycle to the event, but you will not be able to bring you bike onto the two event sites. yThere is cycle parking along Hoe Street, and on Forest Road, outside of the event area.

What roads are being closed? 
Forest Road will be closed between Shernhall Street heading west and Winns Terrace heading east between 5.30pm and 10pm on Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January. 

Hoe Street and Chingford Road will remain open, with usual buses, with additional traffic control at the junction with Forest Road to ensure safety of visitors and traffic during the event period. A detailed PDF is available here which displays the alternative diversion routes to enable as much access around the area as possible.

When do the roads reopen? 
All roads will reopen at 10pm on Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January.

How do I know where to catch my usual bus?    
Buses will continue to run as normal between Walthamstow Bus station and north to Chingford Road. Bus routes 123, 275, 212 will be diverted around the event site from 17:30 to 22:00 on event days. Bus routes are unaffected at other times. Detailed information about bus routes can be downloaded as a PDF here.

What are the parking restrictions for the opening event?
The car park facilities at The Mall (E17 7LT)  in Walthamstow Town Centre is 24 hours (charges apply) and more details are available here

We are expecting a high demand on local parking and strongly recommend that audiences travel by bicycle, on foot or use public transport. 

Parking will be prohibited in the following parts of the area to ensure the safety of participants in the event and prevent any potential damage to vehicles:

•    Forest Road – Shernhall Street to Winns Terrace 
•    Chingford Road – Evesham Avenue to Forest Road 
•    Hoe Street – Forest Road to Greenleaf Road 
•    Kenilworth Avenue – Two-way section by Tesco Parking and opposite side of road 
•    Winns Terrace – Full length of road, along the parkside only 
•    Farnan Avenue – Both sides of the road from the Magistrates Court to Forest Road.
•    The Assembly Hall Car Park will be closed off from Tuesday 8 January – Monday 14 January

This enforcement will be between 5pm and 10pm on Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January 2019. Any vehicle remaining within the prohibited area may receive a Penalty Charge Notice and be towed away.  Signs will be in position at the enforced areas. 

Are there any changes to Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) Restrictions?
To minimise the impact to residents parking, there will be temporary parking suspensions in place on Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January 2019 in the surrounding CPZ areas. Residents with valid permits will be exempt from the parking suspensions. These suspensions will ensure that parking on roads near to the event are reserved for residents and valid permit holders only. 

Suspension notices will be installed along the road in advance which will state the additional hours of parking restrictions.

Some Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) will be extended and further details are included in document ‘Information for Residents’ which has been distributed to local residents and is available to download here.

If you are a resident in an area where the resident's permit has been extended, and you don't have a permit, you will need to use a visitor's permit. If you are in a suspended parking area you will need to adhere to the signs. 

Residential access: where is access restricted?
There will be restrictions on the following roads, preventing access onto Forest Road. 

These will be in force from 5pm and removed at 10pm each day of the event at the following sites:

•    Hurst Road
•    Farnan Avenue
•    Falmer Road
•    Kenilworth Avenue
•    Bromley Road
•    Hawthorne Road
•    Bedford Road
•    Gaywood Road
•    Ruby Road
•    YMCA
•    Waltham Forest College
•    YMCA
•    Walthamstow Town Hall

Further details are included in the ‘Information for Residents’ document available to download here.

As some of the roads are only able to be accessed from Forest Road, the one-way systems will be removed during the event hours. 

To aid access and assist in traffic movement, the access to these roads will be controlled by a traffic marshal who will allow access to persons with this letter or proof of address on that road. 

Food deliveries will not need proof of address or this letter to deliver during these times. 

Info about the William Morris Gallery & Lloyd Park

What are the opening hours of the William Morris Gallery on event days? 
The William Morris Gallery will be open 10am-2pm on Friday 11 January and 10am-4pm on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January.  

Why is the William Morris Gallery closing early on the 11, 12 and 13 January? 
The William Morris Gallery will be closing early to accommodate and prepare for the opening event.

Will the café at the William Morris Gallery be open as normal? The café will be open during the revised opening hours at the William Morris Gallery, and will serve until half an hour before closing of the Gallery.

Will I be able to park outside the William Morris Gallery during Welcome to the Forest
There will be two spaces for parking for disabled visitors to the William Morris Gallery, during opening hours of the William Morris Gallery on 11, 12 and 13 January.  However cars need to be moved by 3pm on each day.

Can I walk my dog in Lloyd Park? 
Yes, you can. There will be restricted access from 8 to 15 January to the island and the front of the William Morris Gallery. All other areas of the park, including the café, Le Delice in the Park , will be open for their normal opening hours.  

Can I bring my dog? 
You may wish to bring your dog but please be advised this event may not be suitable for dogs as we are expecting high volumes of visitors and loud noises and flashing lights may upset your dog. We may also ask you to leave if the event has become unsuitable for animals due to loud noise or crowding. 

What dates will Nest be set up in Lloyd Park?  

From 8 January the island will be closed for the installation of Nest, and on show days, until 15 January.

Will there be any impact when the Nest is being set up in Lloyd Park.  

Yes. Access to the island in Lloyd Park will be restricted from 8 January until 15 January.  All other areas of the park, including the café, Le Delice in the Park , will be open for their normal opening hours. The café will remain open during the evening shows.