Skip to main content Skip to footer

Museum of London Docklands announces street party to mark its 20th anniversary, with Vanity Milan, star of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, to headline

RuPaul's Drag Race star Vanity Milan side-by-side with the MoLD20 commemorative mark.

Drag Race star Vanity Milan and the MoLD20 commemorative mark. Top image © Vanity Milan

Friday 28 April 2023 -

  • The big Docklands street party will take place on Saturday 10th June 2023, 7pm-10pm
  • Twenty years after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the museum, Drag Race Royalty Vanity Milan will help lead celebrations for the 20th birthday bash
  • The street party and museum late will include live performances, street food, pop-up bars, talks and tours, workshops, film screenings, a makers market, pub quiz and after hours gallery access
  • The street party is one of many events for the museum’s year-round anniversary programme celebrating and exploring London’s East End including a radical architecture walk, queer beer crawl and scavenger hunt, as well as dance workshops, supper clubs, and a mudlarking festival
  • Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online for £20 (£13.50 concession), with a special £12 ticket price for twenty-year-olds across the country

The Bow Bells will ring on 10th June 2023 as the Museum of London Docklands marks its 20th anniversary with a street party celebrating the history, cultures and communities of the East End. Headlined by drag queen Vanity Milan, the late night event will include a mixture of food stalls, pop-up bars, live performances, talks, film screenings and a makers market celebrating the best of its local neighbourhood. The event is part of a year of programming for the anniversary celebrating and exploring east London.

Traditionally it was said that to be a true Cockney one must be born within earshot of the Bow Bells, and on the 10th June the ceremonious ringing of St Mary-le-Bow’s church bells will mark the museum’s big day. Now commonly associated with the East End, Cockney is part of a melting pot of cultures and creativity that make east London such a vibrant place to live. Home to everything from grime music and the Columbia flower market to the iconic graffiti of Brick Lane, its long history as London’s gateway to the world has brought a unique buzz to the area, with its communities inspiring a tonne of cultural gems. Celebrated names range from David Beckham, Idris Elba and Bimini Bom Boulash to Tinchy Stryder, Gilbert & George and Lord Alan Sugar.

Parking up on the Docks for the museum’s street party, party pioneers Hackney Showroom will lead the evening’s entertainment with their outdoor stage, the Bobby Dazzler. They’ll be throwing a ‘Russell Harty’ (party) on the Quay with a line-up of live music and performances throughout the night.

Serving charisma and talent, Drag Race finalist and lip-sync assassin, the iconic drag queen Vanity Milan will make a star appearance at the event, hosting the museum’s East End pub quiz. Visitors can drop in to flex their London knowledge and raise a toast to mark twenty years since the museum’s doors opened. Having slayed on Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and most recently Canada Vs The World, Vanity Milan is back in London and said “I’m back and ready to serve the Museum of London Docklands sugar spice and everything nice. Ooh, we’re gonna have a good o’time!”

In honour of east London’s creative thinkers, a unique makers market will showcase the best small businesses selling everything from handmade ceramics to jewellery and fine art. For those who are Hank Marvin (starving) - street food stalls and pop-up bars will be offering food & drink from the local area, including Jamaican patties and filled roti, rum cocktails and craft beer.

The museum’s galleries will stay open late with a range of curated talks, tours, and film screenings that bring new light to London’s history. From the origins of street parties to the iconic Notting Hill carnival, the event will take a deep dive into the festivities that bring Londoners together.

The big Docklands street party is part of a year-long 20th anniversary programme celebrating and exploring the history of London’s East End. Lunar New Year events kicked off the anniversary celebrations, a stone's throw away from London's original Chinatown in Limehouse. Co-curated with community partners - performances, storytelling, and workshops recognised Southeast Asian cultural heritage and its mark on modern day London. This was followed shortly after with Speak Cockney Day on the ‘fird of the fird’ (3rd March), exploring Cockney heritage, identity, life, and lingo, with rhyming slang workshops led by London’s Pearly Kings and Queens.

The wider programme will include a new free display Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture (19th May –19th November 2023), exploring the history of Indian indenture in the British Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean culture in London today. A Q&A and screening of the award-winning film Dal Puri Diaspora will be held at the museum, following the global journey of this famous Indian cuisine and the role of food in conserving culture.

Later in the year the museum will open its new major exhibition, Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners Shaped Global Style (13 October 2023-14 April 2024).The exhibition will uncover the contribution of Jewish Londoners to the global fashion industry, putting the museum’s extensive Fashion & Textile Collection front and centre for the first time in two decades, featuring objects from iconic designers known to have dressed high society and royalty including Otto Lucas, Mr Fish, Cecil Gee, Rahvis, and Madame Isobel. Representing all levels of the fashion industry at key moments throughout the twentieth century, the exhibition will allow visitors to step into the world of a 1960s Carnaby Street shopping boutique and a traditional tailoring workshop from the heart of London’s East End.

Other events throughout the year will include an evening to mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush, bringing together performances and readings to explore themes of migration, home and community. There will be a queer pub crawl, themed walks, and a scavenger hunt that will take visitors through key locations and museum objects, shining a light on lesser known stories of the docks. Later in the year, the museum will launch its first mudlarking festival and a series of supper clubs.

Douglas Gilmore, Managing Director of Museum of London Docklands said: “For our 20th anniversary, we look forward to welcoming new visitors and old friends to celebrate this corner of London we’re proud to call home. Through our events, we’ll be championing the culture, music and food of London’s vibrant East End and exploring important histories that have shaped the city we live in today. From dance workshops to film screenings, talks to displays, I hope people will find plenty to enjoy and much to take away from our programme.”

Press images saved here

Further information and tickets:


Notes for editors

For more press information please contact Mariam Hussein, Media Officer at the Museum of London on 07713 565805 or [email protected].

Listings Information

Dal Puri Diaspora screening + Q&A (31st May, paid advance booking)

Screening | Ages 14+ | 6.30pm-8.30pm

Follow the journey of dal puri across space and time; from indentured workers from India’s Gangetic plain in 19th-century British and Dutch Caribbean colonies, to today’s global Indo-Caribbean community.

As the wrapped roti has moved from home fire to street stall to restaurant, and from festival to fast food, it has transformed in ingredients, cooking method, ways of eating and identity. Shot in Toronto, Trinidad and India, this film by Richard Fung explores colonialism, migration and the globalisation of tastes with interviews from leading food writers and scholars including Pushpesh Pant, Naomi Duguid, Brinsley Samaroo, Radhika Mongia and Patricia Mohammed.

Featuring a Q&A with Chandani Persaud, discover stories of Indo-Caribbean heritage and the role of food in conserving culture while you enjoy a complimentary taster of traditional Trinidadian doubles.

This event is part of a special series inspired by our new, free-to-visit display, Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture.

The big Docklands street party (10th June, paid advance booking)

Special event | Ages 18+ | 7pm-10pm

Join us on the Docks for a street party and after hours event inspired by London’s East End.

Watch the sun set on the Quayside as party pioneers Hackney Showrooms host an evening of live performance on outdoor stage the Bobby Dazzler, and enjoy street food and pop-up bars showcasing the best local food and drink from rum cocktails and craft beer, to Jamaican patties and filled roti.

Head inside to explore our galleries after hours, hear a range of curated talks and tours, and watch film screenings that bring new light to London’s history. From the origins of street parties to the iconic Notting Hill carnival, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the festivities that continue to bring us together.

Think you know London? Flex your knowledge at our pub quiz and don’t forget to visit our makers market on the third floor - a homage to east London’s creative thinkers, makers, and craft-lovers!

LGBTQ+ life in Limehouse: a queer beer crawl (17th June, paid advance booking)

Walk | Ages 18+ | 2pm-4.30pm

Join The Urban Rambler, Nick Collinson for an afternoon jaunt through the streets of Limehouse - the former Chinatown of London, and favourite haunt of foreign sailors. You will hear all about the vibrant history of the area, focusing on the LGBTQI+ community, both historical and contemporary. We will also be taking a number of stops along the way at LGBTQI+ friendly/led pubs to keep the stories flowing!

Untold stories: a Docklands scavenger hunt (24th June, paid advance booking)

Walk | Ages 7+ | 2pm-4pm

No birthday celebrations would be complete without a scavenger hunt. Put together your team and solve clues that take you through the untold and lesser known stories of the docks. Our hosts and actors will take you through both the museum collections and the living history in the immediate areas surrounding the Museum of London Docklands.

Spitalfields ballad walk (1st July, paid advance booking)

Walk | Ages 14+ | 11am-1pm

Join folk singer and researcher Vivien Ellis for a unique musical walking tour focussing on the rich history of street vendors and others who used song to make a living on the streets. You’ll learn more about the unsung heroes of East End and get first-hand experience of how music and song were crucial for bringing communities together.

Vivien Ellis is a singer specialising in early, folk, and new music. She is part of the growing field of arts and health research and practice, and an Associate of The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health.

The radical city – architecture and revolution through old Finsbury (22nd July, paid advance booking)

Walk | Ages 14+ | 11am-1pm

Nestled on the banks of the River Fleet at the fringe of the city’s core, the old Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury was once one of the most overcrowded places in London. Shaped by rapid population growth and the fallout of unchecked industrialisation, in the late 19th century worsening poverty and dire living conditions incubated revolutionary politics and it became an epicentre for urban reformers, progressives and other social agitators whose ideas on housing, healthcare and the public city would have a legacy across the UK.

In this walking tour, urban historian Mike Althorpe – aka The London Ambler – charts radicalism, urban change and big ideas through the architecture, streets and spaces that changed London.

Mike Althorpe is an urban historian, architectural researcher, storyteller and guide 'The London Ambler' with a background in fine art and architectural history. Between 2006-2009 Mike was part of architectural think tank Building Futures and from 2011-2015 was public programmes curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects. Since 2016 he has worked with Karakusevic Carson Architects and in 2017 co-authored the practice-led book Social Housing and curated the exhibition of the same name in London in 2017 and at New York’s Center for Architecture in 2018. In 2019, he was the recipient of RIBA Research Fund and published Revolutionary Low Rise – a publication exploring international low rise, high density housing with Abigail Batchelor.

Party parlour games (30th May, free tickets allocated upon arrival)

Special event | Ages 5+ | 11am,12.15pm, or 1.45pm

Roll up! Roll up! Join in the festivities by dancing, singing and being silly at our Victorian fete. Turn back the clock and get everyone involved for traditional games and old-fashioned family fun.

Family knees-up! (30th May, free drop in)

Special event | Under 5s | 11am, or 2pm

Cor blimey, Guv’nor, it’s only the museum’s 20th birthday! Sounds like a chance to have a good old-fashioned East End knees-up. Join Tom Carradine (of Carradine's Cockney Singalong) at the ol' Joanna for a lively, interactive family event. He'll have you and your little ones doing the Lambeth Walk, pondering How Much is That Doggy in the Window, marching with inflatable bananas 'down the Strand' and much more! Enjoy bubbles, puppets and plenty of singing along for adults, babies and children of all ages. Described by audience members as “Brilliant fun and very interactive”, “joyous” and a “fantastic family event”, come and celebrate our 20th birthday the East End way!

The Curious Tales of Polly Pickles! (30th May, free tickets allocated upon arrival)

Workshop | Under 5s | 10.45am, 12.15pm, or 2pm

Step right up, folks, and hear the curious tale of Polly Pickles! This interactive and musical family show takes you back in time to Victorian London where you will meet Polly, a pickpocket with a penchant for danger.

About Vanity Milan

Vanity Milan is a London Drag Queen who is best known for being a finalist on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3. She finished in 4th place and was the lip-sync assassin of her season. She has since made an appearance on Canadas RuPaul’s Drag Race Canada Vs The World representing the UK. Vanity is an incredible performer and crowd-pleaser which works wonders at any live event. The recipe for a Vanity Milan performance is Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice.

About Hackney Showroom

Hackney Showroom is a development space for experimental theatre and performance artists and an award-winning arts company. Following on from their hit theatre show BURGERZ by Travis Alabanza, 2023 sees them mount two new shows: Tomorrow Is Already Dead by Ms Sharon le Grand at Soho Theatre in June and The Legends of Them by Sutara Gayle at Brixton House in September. Based on Kings Crescent Estate, Hackney, their venue is a thriving space where they programme creative and cultural activity for local residents. 2023 also sees the creation of Hackney Showroom's new touring stage on wheels, the Bobby Dazzler which is being launched on 10 June at the Museum of London Docklands 20th anniversary.

About Craft Central

Craft Central hosts a wider community of Makers, Crafters and Artists through membership schemes. Members benefit from being part of a collective community and through a variety of offers that we provide to help build your profile and your business.

About The Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, this grade one listed converted Georgian sugar warehouse specifically tells the story of the port, river and city – focusing on trade, migration and commerce in London.

The museum is open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm and is FREE to all. You can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added regularly. Recommended last entry is 4pm as the museum takes at least an hour to look around. Please note, we begin to close the galleries 20 minutes before closing time.