Welcome to Waltham Forest Tours, a travel agency with a difference. We specialise in journeys to a parallel universe, where you might discover the extraordinary hidden beneath the seen. We're here to show you a whole other world – and you don't even have to leave your neighbourhood to reach it.
A new creative adventure at the heart of London's first Borough of Culture, Waltham Forest Tours offers a series of close encounters to delight residents, artists and visitors. Whether you've recently moved to the area or can trace your roots back to Boudicca, we can point you towards everything eccentric, charming and surprising about the places we call home. And if you're a visitor from somewhere else in London, Europe, the world – or, who knows, another planet altogether – there's plenty to entice you too.
First off, it's sturdy shoes at the ready for a series of walks with Leytonstone’s psychogeographer-in-residence, John Rogers. Author of This Other London – Adventures in an Overlooked City, John will be the perfect guide to the unexpected as he tours the borough’s topography, culture and overlooked heritage. Each walk will be recorded in a film and accompanied by a hand-printed map by Waltham Forest printer Russell Frost, as well as a video guide, so even if you can't attend in person, you don't have to miss out.
From the pavements to the roads: performance-maker Rhiannon Armstrong has had a soft spot for buses and the people who ride them ever since she was befriended by a bus driver as a child in her native Montreal. She's lived in our borough for over a decade and as Waltham Forest Tour’s artist-in-residence will spend a couple of months “on the buses”, talking to people she meets to make a new audio tour, The Soothing Presence of Strangers. This will be available for free from September on a bus route to be announced (in association with Transport for London and GeoTourist).
For those who prefer to eat their way around the borough, Walthamstow-born tour guide AbdulMaalik Tailor will lead a series of Culinary Walking Tours of Waltham Forest's diverse communities, travelling from cafes and bakeries to people's homes to introduce your taste buds to every sensation this vibrant place has to offer. Remember to wear loose clothes, bring a good appetite, and don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere else – these tours could last from brunch till dinner! And if you're interested in hosting a meal, we'll be looking for volunteer cooks – watch this space for details.
The cuisine theme continues with world-famous culinary artists the Domestic Godless, who present their own guide to keeping standards high in the kitchen when everything else is descending into chaos. What do you do when the supermarket shelves are empty and your only larder is the local swamp? How does a little selective breeding turn an invasive pest into the next gastronomic delicacy? These questions and more may be answered at Café Abyss, taking place at Gnome House, Blackhorse Road in July. This travelling eating experience, which has already travelled the world, taking Domestic Godless to dilapidated luxury hotels and a garbage-skip at the gates of City Hall in Belfast, is a walk-in experience: come to watch and listen – and fill your belly if you're brave enough.
For those who have always longed to travel in time, we offer Do Not Worry: a celebration of Walthamstow's forgotten history as the Hollywood of the silent movie era. Led by our movie-buffs-in-residence Janek Turkowski and Iwona Nowacka, we'll spend the summer recreating the film Anarchy in Britain – itself a recreation of the 1907 Tottenham Outrage, originally made by Wood Street’s very own Precision Studios and shot on location in Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford. This is your chance to become a silent-movie star in your own high street as Janek and Iwona are looking for literally hundreds of extras to be part of this silent movie remake. You'll be able to see yourself in the remade movie gem at a series of screenings at the close of the Borough of Culture year.
Wherever you'd like to go in the borough, Waltham Forest Tours are the people to take you there. And watch out – we might have some sneaky extra(-terrestrial) visitors come to check out what's happening. You have been warned...