London & Partners

Punk.London: From 1976-2016, 40 years of challenging convention

Press Release   •   Jan 20, 2016 09:12 GMT

  • Launching today, a year-long festival highlights the continuing influence of the genre-busting cultural phenomenon
  • Celebrating historic moments to modern day influence, from icons to fans
  • London’s cultural organisations tell the story of punk through art, design, film, fashion, literature, photography and of course, music

40 years ago, youth culture in London - and in towns and cities around the country - was turned upside down with the arrival of punk.

Three chords, a DIY attitude, ripped jeans and safety pins subsequently became the archetypes for a phenomenon that challenged the status quo and provoked outrage. But punk has always been more than a t-shirt or a piece of loud music: it's an irrepressible attitude and spirit that continues to be quintessential to London’s identity.

As Malcolm Mclaren said: "Punk will always come back in new forms always because the attitude is so very very good; it’s to do with people doing things for themselves, controlling their own methods and their own culture.”

Punk.London is a year-long festival of events, gigs, exhibitions, performances and film that celebrates a movement that changed the face of music, culture, art, politics and fashion forever.

Throughout 2016, Punk.London will remind us of the subversive but enduring influence that punk has had since 1976. Events include the Roundhouse’s punk weekender forty years on from when the Sex Pistols and The Clash gate-crashed the Ramones’ dressing room and then changed popular music forever. Other highlights include Don Letts’ film season drawing on the diversity of punk; the British Library pulling from the world’s biggest punk fanzine archive; Rough Trade’s one-off collaboration gigs, to a punk themed closing party at the Design Museum.

Punk.London is not just about history, it is a chance to look at punk as an on-going catalyst that continues to inspire, refuse categorisation and spark creativity around the world. From tattoos to club culture, Hip Hop to literature, graphic design to fashion.

Despite the tagline 'live fast, die young', Punk continues to defy stereotypes and break down boundaries, from female-led bands coming to the fore, like The Slits and The Raincoats, to its influence that has permeated art and design like the graphics innovator Neville Brody, to fashion through the genius of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood and uncompromising visual artists like Bob and Roberta Smith. In music today, that punk spirit is alive and kicking with bands like Slaves and Sleaford Mods and Grime artists such as Skepta and Novelist.

People can find out about more upcoming events, explore London’s punk sites on a Punk London map and how to put on their own DIY events at www.Punk.London.

Punk.London programme listing:

Punk Rock Hip Hop Mash-Up at Chelsea College of Arts Milbank – 19 - 31 January 2016 An exhibition of Janette Beckman's punk and hip hop photography and mash up collaborations with British and US artists featuring original iconic images of The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Specials.

Tattoo London at the Museum of London – 29 January – 8 May 2016

Getting under the skin of what it’s like to be one of the capital’s top tattoo artists and see bespoke London-inspired tattoo designs. Like Punk, tattooing is one of London’s most influential subcultures and the two have long been associated.

Lost in Music at the Print Space Gallery – 5 – 17 February 2016

The Photographic Youth Music Culture Archive (PYMCA) showcase a photographic monument to the subversive and transformative nature of club culture. A testament to the hedonistic revolutionaries who continue to fuel a revolutionary sub-culture, this is a vital documentary on British music.

On|Off: London Fashion Week Punk Shows at Vinyl Factory - 19 - 21 February 2016

In the fearless pioneering spirit of punk and with explosion of colour and vibrant rhythmic flavour, On|Off will light up its home in the heart of Soho celebrating the very best of emerging talent, both on and off the London Fashion Week schedule and return to the Vinyl Factory with these very special punk shows.

Doc´n Roll Films Presents Sounds of London - February – March 2016

As part of a season of cinematic examination of the capital’s musical history, the Sounds of London programme features Q&As with some of Punk’s key figures, as well as the world premiere of Here To Be Heard: The Story of the Slits.

Rockarchive’s A Chuck of Punk at Barbican Music Library – 2 March – 28 April 2016

Rockarchive founder and world renowned music photographer, Jill Furmanovsky, opens her archive to share her mainly unseen collection of anarchic Punk images. Featuring The Buzzocks, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and many more, A Chunk of Punk is a photographic celebration of 1970's subversive culture.

Dennis Morris: PiL - First Issue to Metal Box at the ICA: 22 March – 17 May 2016

As designer of the iconic PiL logo, as well as their first single, album and famous Metal Box, this exhibition focuses on the seminal work Dennis Morris undertook with John Lydon’s PiL between 1978 and 1979.

Punk 1976-78 at the British Library: 13 May to 19 September 2016

Starting with the impact of the Sex Pistols in 1976, this free exhibition will explore punk’s early days in the capital and reveal how its remarkable influence spread across music, fashion, print and graphic styles nationwide. Showcasing a range of fanzines, flyers, recordings and record sleeves from the British Library’s collections alongside rare material from the Jon Savage Archive at Liverpool John Moores University, Punk 1976-78 will celebrate the enduring influence of punk as a radical musical, artistic and political movement.

Stoke Newington Literary Festival: 3-5 June 2016

The festival will host a series of events featuring some of Britain’s most influential writers and cultural commentators. As well as looking at Hackney’s role in the birth of the punk movement (Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious grew up in and around Stoke Newington), it will explore the relationship between punk, reggae & ska, how it influenced – and continues to influence - fashion, film, design and politics way beyond its brief but incendiary years in the spotlight.

Punk fashion exhibition at London Collections: Men: 10 -13 June 2016

London Collections: Men will celebrate punk with an exhibition featuring contemporaneous punk fashion as well as many examples of the way in which it has influenced fashion in the last forty years. Every magazine from i-D to Dazed owes at least something to the youth quake of punk, while its influence can be seen everywhere from Vogue to Vice, and in collections from Alexander McQueen to Katie Eary.

Punk display at the Museum of London – June and July 2016

Held in Show Space, the museum’s topical display area, this display of clothes, fanzines, photographs and ephemera will focus on the quotidian, highlighting the cultural expression that came to define punk in the every day. Early in 2016 the museum will work with Central Saint Martin’s students to find surviving punk objects to add to the museum’s existing collection.

Punk Weekender at The Photographers’ Gallery: 23-26 June 2016

The Punk Weekender comprises an exhibition of iconic images from photographers Derek Ridgers, Anita Corbin and the PYMCA Archive, plus an exclusive performance from punk legends The Raincoats. There are also talks and events celebrating the spontaneity, spirit and diversity of punk culture and its presence within Soho. TPG’s programme explores how and why the DIY/avant-garde spirit led to a range of punk subcultures and a reinvention of personal identity and expression.

Punk Fest at the Design Museum: 25 and 26 June 2016

With this much-loved institution closing its Shad Thames doors in 2016, what better way to end than with two days of creative disruption celebrating of one of London’s most distinctive design movements, with fanzine-making workshops, music, spoken word and other events shaping a fitting last weekend for museum.

Punk Weekender at the Roundhouse: 9 and 10 July 2016

Almost 40 years on since the Ramones played their seminal gig at the Roundhouse there will be two days of music and spoken word fuelled by and rooted in the vitality and energy of punk. With world-class poetry, prose and musical programming celebrating the legacy and continuing influence of Punk including a Women in Punk day in partnership with the British Library.

Don Letts presents Punk on Film at BFI Southbank: August 2016

Throughout August 2016 BFI Southbank will host a season of films curated by the film director, DJ and musician Don Letts. The season will draw much needed attention to the diversity of the punk movement through a broad range of documentary and archive footage, as well as a special African Odysseys event highlighting the intersections between the Jamaican music scene and punk. With contributions from key commentators, and an exciting selection of films, some rarely seen on the big screen, the BFI Southbank’s PUNK season will be a highlight of the PUNK London celebrations. The full programme for the season will be announced in the Spring, but in the meantime head to BFI Player to watch Punks on the Kings Road in a free short film Death is Their Destiny featuring Vivienne Westwood and The Slits singer Ari Up.

Rough Trade 40 in-store and venue gigs: March to October 2016

Opening in 1976, the Rough Trade shop became a true cornerstone of punk – a shop, label, independent distributor, radical meeting place and much more. In honour of the shop’s 40thanniversary, they will host a series of collaborative events, celebrating the participatory camaraderie of both the shop and punk’s original spirit.

With more events added throughout the year, check out www.Punk.London for the most up to date listing and follow #PunkLondon.

Punk.London is backed by some of London's leading cultural organisations – carrying an irony that they recognise – including British Fashion Council, British Film Institute, British Library, Design Museum, Doc ‘n Roll Films, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Live Nation Merchandise, Museum of London, The Photographers’ Gallery, PYMCA, Premier PR and On|Off, Rough Trade, Roundhouse and Universal Music Catalogue.

Punk London is funded by a £90,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and supported by the Mayor of London, but in keeping with punk’s DIY ethos, individuals and organisations across the country are being encouraged to create their own events. Anyone wishing to host an event can find out more on the Punk London website at

London & Partners is the official promotional company for London and owns and manages, the digital home for Lumiere London. We promote London and attract businesses, events, congresses, students and visitors to the capital. Our aims are to build London’s international reputation and to attract investment and visitor spend, which create jobs and growth. London & Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and our network of commercial partners.