Bankside to celebrate its rich Frost Fair heritage with a multi-media art trail that reimagines the frozen Thames and the strange spectacle of a visiting Elephant

Better Bankside has today announced the launch of its inaugural modern day ‘Frost Fair’ – a homage to the area’s unique history, celebrating the characters and fascinating stories from past winters in the Southwark borough.

Between 1605 and 1814, the surface of the River Thames froze over 24 times, bringing all trade on the water to a standstill. The people of Bankside turned catastrophe into opportunity, creating pleasure grounds known as the ‘Frost Fair’, hosting markets, selling food and drink, organising gambling and games on the ice, and guiding tourists across the frozen water. 

Inspired by the area’s rich heritage and its lively characters, from 1 December 2022 – 31 January 2023, Bankside will be reinventing these strange happenings, through a series of innovative augmented reality (AR) installations, street art murals, animations, cinematic film and AI collaborative digital art, located throughout the area, as well as events, workshops and food & drink experiences.

Bankside’s Frost Fair will officially launch at 18.14 on Thursday 1 December, with the revealing of the spectacular moving image and AR enlivened artworks that reference one of the Frost Fairs strangest tales. Legend has it that when the Thames last froze over in 1814, an elephant was walked across the ice, adding an unforgettable spectacle to the Frost Fair.

Visitors to the event will also be able to relive scenes from these historical winters and reveal layers of information about the Frost Fair, the artists and their inspiration behind the artworks through the use of AR on their phones, via the Graffio Arts app whilst also accessing Frost Fair inspired  food and drink  promotions at Bankside’s many restaurants and bars. 

A specially curated street art trail will be revealed in the borough on Thursday 1 December where visitors will find murals displaying historical scenes and modern interpretations of the Frost Fair from renowned street artists Mr Cenz, Dreph, Nomad Clan and Peachzz. 

Cutting edge digital animation (Everfresh), cinematic film (Julia Fullerton-Batten) and an AI generated moving image piece (Jason Slabber) will complement the street art murals in the area.

Meanwhile, guided tours will take place throughout December and January where people can discover more about the games, events and markets that took place on the river in these icy winters.

Bankside businesses will also be creating Frost Fair inspired menu items and food & drink experiences, hosting themed club and music nights, workshops and events with donations  going towards supporting local homeless charity The Manna Society.

Events will be regularly added to the official Frost Fair programme which can be found at

Bankside’s Frost Fair is being  delivered  through a neighbourhood partnership between Better Bankside,  Borough Market, The Venue Group, Borough Yards, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Bankside Yards, Fabrix, Uber Boats by Thames Clipper, and supported by  The Africa Centre, Union Street Arches, Hilton Bankside, KBH Group & SMP (Print division), The Circular Cup co. with more to be announced. For more information about Frost Fair, visit: