Fitzrovia Festival is a non-commercial celebration of the neighbourhood’s life and history through literature, exhibitions, guided walks and other community events.
The first Fitzrovia Festival was held in 1973 under the banner “The People Live Here Festival”. The early Festivals were organised by a committee made of members of the Charlotte Street Association, a residents group who campaign for better — and affordable — housing and an improved environment.
Tower community newspaper produced a special Festival issue for the event.
The name Fitzrovia may have been first used by the founder and editor of Poetry London M. J. Tambimuttu who used the name to describe a pub crawl of pubs from Soho to Charlotte Street in the 1930s. It first appeared in print in a newspaper column by Tom Driberg in 1940 but was later popularised by the chronicler of 1940s Fitzrovia life Julian Maclaren-Ross.
After falling out of use in the 1950s, the name Fitzrovia was suggested by Eric Singer a German immigrant who recalled the use of the name in the 1940s to the organisers of the first Festival. The name Fitzrovia was taken up and came back into common currency reinforced by the annual Fitzrovia Festival and residents who wanted to define a neighbourhood where people lived. Hence, The People Live Here Festival.
Since the 1980s Festival has been organised by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association (registered charity) as part of its charitable objectives. In recent years Festival has been a smaller affair than it was, especially since the close of the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre in June 2019.
Festival now consists of a series of small events, organised by the Fitzrovia Community Newspaper Group, celebrating the life and history of this often forgotten residential community where a great many people have their main home.