Last year the Mayor added a new, exciting “festival” to his calendar of events for London – The Story Of London. You can read about this lacklustre affair here, here, here and here.

This year, the festival has been moved from June to October. Like fellow blogger IanVisits, I’d been somewhat concerned that no information about the festival had appeared on the Mayor’s website, less than a month before the event. After Ian’s email enquiry to City Hall last Friday, a map and searchable listing of events miraculously appeared on the same day.

Last year’s event was, apparently, such a runaway success that the number of events has been reduced from 500-odd to, er, 100-odd.

How about the distribution of the events? Ian has produced a much more user-friendly map than the official events map; it’s immediately apparent that our Mayor For Outer London has, yet again, neglected the far north-west, west and south-west of his realm, despite claims that:

The festival will take place across all of London’s 33 boroughs

Indeed, Ian has produced a very useful spreadsheet which lists events by postcode – see at a glance which boroughs have drawn the short straw.

The observations I made last year about the “festival” mainly comprising events which would have been happening anyway is echoed this year by Ian:

Hmm, unless my eyes deceive me, there is a lot less happening this year than last year. Also, no themed weekends – which is actually a good thing – but it does make the event appear a bit more disjointed than before.

My main gripe with the Story of London is that there is actually very little that is genuinely unique to the event. Yes, many of the events are themed around London topics, but most of the venues would have been doing something similar anyway, so what is being laid on that wouldn’t have happened without the Mayor’s Office prodding and poking people?

The Mayoral Decision [PDF] approving the expenditure for The Story Of London claims:

Story of London will act as an extra “reason to travel” for visitors to London both from the UK and abroad.

Really? Come to London to see some stuff that was already happening and is spread out over ten days – at three weeks’ notice? It’s not on during the school holidays, either.

Talking of holidays, what’s happened to USA Day? It’s apparently next month [PDF] but no sign of it on the GLA events calendar.

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