From bouldering to canoeing, vintage clothing to vegan treats, Hackney Wick offers adrenaline junkies and ethical souls a fun-packed day.
While Hackney Wick may be thought of as a ravers paradise, there are activities galore to keep adventurous and creative spirits entertained. Adrenaline junkies, this is the spot for you, with canoeing, bouldering and axe-throwing all practically next door. We dare you to try all three in a day.
Home to the highest concentration of art studio spaces in the world with over 600 individual venues, Hackney Wick is filled to the brim with creatives looking to share their art. Whether it’s photography, theatre or visual artwork that brings you inspiration, this area has some of the best.
If you’re looking for designer shopping, keep walking. Just a short hop over the River Lee into Newham and across to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, you’ll find a homage to consumerism at Stratford’s Westfield mall.
But, if you want to treat yourself, and the planet, come on in. Organic, vegan, repurposed, local and handmade are the orders of the day; there’s nothing throw-away about this culture. Here in Hackney Wick, consumption is limited to art, food, drink, fun, and frivolity.
Hackney Wick Boulder Project
In the warehouse next door to Thierry Noir’s giant mural of two colourful guitar players, you’ll find the Hackney Boulder Project. If you’re unsure of the entrance, look for the white and black painted circle of a climbing shoe. Inside, you’ll find bouldering walls – indoor climbing walls without ropes – suitable for all levels of experience. They’re open weeknights until 10 pm, so you’ll even have time to fit in a climb after working late.
117 Wallis Rd, London E9 5LN
Moo Canoes wants you to get out and explore London’s waterways. Pick up one of their cow print canoes from Sweetwater (next to Barge East). Moo also has outposts in Limehouse, where you can hire kayaks, and at Poplar Union too, where you can hire paddleboards (SUPs). Aswell as canoes, the Hackney Wick site also offers a floating licensed bar called The Milk Float, making it a good option for special days out.
Carpenters Road Bridge, Sweetwater, Lee Navigation
Skeeters Axe Throwing
According to Skeeters, ‘Nothing smashes through social awkwardness like throwing an axe at a chunky target,’ so this is the perfect spot for a first date, right? If you haven’t quite got the guts for that, bring down your colleagues, birthday party or family crew for what must be one of the most unique activities in London.
96 White Post Ln, London E9 5EN
The Yard Theatre
Set up by artistic director Jay Miller in 2011 in a disused warehouse, The Yard Theatre and bar was only intended to have a three-month lifespan. Now, The Yard puts on theatre and performances, as well as late-night DJ events on most nights. The Yard also manages the Hackney Wick community centre, Hub67, and runs creative projects for young people aged 4-19 years. Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams, which later transferred to the National Theatre and became the hit BBC show Chewing Gum, originated as a one-woman show at The Yard.
Unit 2A, Queen’s Yard, London E9 5EN
The London Centre for Book Arts
At the LCBA, ‘a sedate, tranquil atmosphere reigns. It feels like stepping back in time.’ Dedicated to the craft of bookmaking, the centre is full of old machines: hand-cranked proofing presses, cases of antique type, foil blocking presses, a range of specialist hand tools. Here you can do everything from printing a single poster to producing a full book, binding and all. Owners Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura welcome all kinds of people into their space, from artists to hobbyists.
Britannia Works, 56 Dace Rd, Bow, London E3 2NQ
Hackney Wick is absolutely packed with photography studios, tucked away in the corners of bright, airy warehouses. CHEEZ, however, makes you the photographer. With all the professional setup including a camera and lighting, you get to choose when to press the shutter with a small remote control. This makes it perfect for those seeking solo or group portraits that either want a bit of privacy or the freedom to explore their creative talents.
Unit, 9B Queen’s Yard, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN
Hackney Wick Underground
Not the train station. This creative hub provides a dedicated work and retail space to small-scale creatives and is a delight to meander around. Inside you’ll find; Butter Cut, providing precise, gorgeous and low-maintenance haircuts; Repot, hand-painted jazzy and vibrant plant pots; and Hackney Wick Sewing, mending and making everything from masks to curtains, cushions and clothes; as well as artists and photographers. You’ll also find Doh bakery, on your left as you enter the building, offering freshly baked sourdough bread, pastries and cakes, organic fruit and veg, and of course, tea and coffee. The makers’ market is open each weekend allowing artists and crafters from all over The Wick to pitch up and sell their wares.
Unit 3, 66-78 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN
Barge East Farmers Market
Having only opened in 2018, floating restaurant Barge East has upped their game in 2020 with a small but perfectly formed food market. Make sure to say hello to the cheese-mongers at Eager to Cheese, who specialise in British cheeses from Lincoln to Bath. You won’t find any of these fares in the supermarkets.
Carpenters Road Bridge, Sweetwater, Lee Navigation
Vintage Hackney Wick
Accessible to pedestrians walking along the Hertford Union towards the River Lea, this vintage shop-cum-market is packed to the rafters with suede jackets, retro ski wear, authentic 60s silk kimonos and funky retro go-go dresses. Note, however, it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. After selecting some wavy garms, head next door to White Post Bar and Cafe for pints or coffee overlooking the canal.
92 White Post Lane E9 5EN
The Library of Things
Ok so you can’t actually purchase anything at The Library of Things, but when the average power drill is used for just 13 minutes in its lifetime, why would you need one of your own? This recently opened social enterprise housed inside the Old Baths is making “borrowing better than buying” in order to create a more sustainable future. You could borrow a jigsaw for £7 a day to finally do that DIY, or spend £13 on a projector for a spontaneous movie night in.
The Old Baths 80, Eastway, London E9 5JH
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