The Greenwich and Docklands International Festivals has announced its 2021 plans, with the much-loved south east London festival opening at the end of August.

GDIF 2021 will return for two weeks this summer, running until September 11 after being forced to launch the stripped back ‘Reimagined’ edition in 2020.

On August 27, the show will open with Swiss artist Dan Acher’s ‘We Are Watching’, a large-scale artistic response to the climate crisis, whilst the full programme will be announced shortly.

The eye-catching piece, which will fly over Greenwich and later in Glasgow for the COP26 conference, is essentially a giant eye made up of thousands of digital portraits and presented on a giant flag.

The portraits are made up with contributions from people from over 191 countries, coming together to produce a “striking” giant eye on a “monumental flag” which will be 10 stories high.

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Sending “a clear message to world leaders with the power to affect decisions about climate change”, the exhibition will fly over Greenwich from 27-30 August, opening GDIF 2021.

Bradley Hemmings, artistic director of GDIF, said: "GDIF is keen to play its part in promoting environmental responsibility and responding to the climate emergency.

“Dan Acher's We Are Watching will offer a spectacular opportunity for Londoners to reflect on and engage in the forthcoming COP26 Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow.

“Flying this extraordinary artwork as the opening event of this year's festival, close to the line of zero degrees longitude (the symbolic centre of time and space) will further reinforce the resonance of this act of art and activism."



The yearly free event is one of London's biggest outdoor arts festivals, usually taking place at the end of June across south east London in a colourful, nine-day celebration.

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Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe said that “as things become more hopeful, I can’t wait for summer and once again, GDIF are leading the way!

“I’m really proud of the ongoing partnership with Greenwich Council, and can’t wait to meet, see and enjoy some culture again!”

He added: “Greenwich is going to be where it’s at this summer!”

In 2020, with Covid-19 raging across the country, GDIF was launched ‘reimagined’ to keep audiences and artists safe.

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Outdoor art installations, street-theatre and even doorstep performances delivered some art and joy despite the pandemic, although the event was heavily stripped back.

GDIF usually organises over 200 performances attended by over 80,000 people, and is described as a "part of life in Greenwich and East London for almost a quarter of a century," and the summer staple will be looking forward to  full return this year.