This weekend attracted almost 20,000 people for the return of Brisfest. This time around it was bigger and better than ever with a whopping 15 stages showcasing over 200 acts. Alongside the musical line up was a packed schedule of comedy and theatre to keep festivalgoers entertained all weekend.
Set in the beautiful grounds of the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol, Brisfest is a unique festival with undeniable charm. Brisfest was set up back in 2007 by a team of volunteers after the sad demise of the Ashton Court Festival. This small team has grown over the years and so has the festival. 2013 marked the second year at Ashton Court after it had outgrown it’s home on Bristol’s harbourside.
Brisfest isn’t just built for adults and this year the team built an entire mini festival in one corner of the site for families and called it ‘Kidz Fest’. This dedicated area for families came with it’s own kids stage and line up.
Away from the main stages, on the other side of the festival site was a street market styled like a Middle-Eastern ‘Souk’, which had a vast array of food vendors and clothing stalls. The food offering was the best I have seen at any festival. I’ve come to expect bland, carbohydrate-heavy offerings from a summer spent at festivals but Brisfest had a vibrant array of food with many of the stalls being local to Bristol.
If you could choose a superhero power at Brisfest it would be the ability to be in more than one place at any time so that nothing was missed. The incredible line up meant that it was hard to decide what to see next. Our highlights from Saturday night included Bristol favourites Dr. Meaker who paved the way for the headline acts with an energetic and skilful performance. Headlining Saturday night was Radio 1 DJ and dance music producer Toddla T Sound who had the crowd dancing along to the very end. Joining him on stage was surprise guest Shola Ama who performed 1997 hit “You Might Need Somebody” alongside the new collaborations with Toddla T Sound.
There was an array of unique sights at this year’s festival from the famous Arcadia bug stage to the Police Rave Unit, a converted riot van complete with rave law enforcement which pumps out beats to get the crowd moving. For each circuit of the festival site there was something brand new to see or experience. Nothing is quite as it seems at Brisfest, I quite fancied an ice cream only to find that the ‘Mr Whompy’ ice cream truck was in fact another stage and the ice cream queue was in fact an audience of dancing revellers.
We arrived on Sunday to a laid back festival site with people relaxing at the various stages to enjoy the music and re-energise for the day ahead. The arrival on the main stage of The Boxettes helped with this energy and their performance helped to kick start the afternoon. Their mix of harmonies, beatboxing and solo vocals style drew in a captivated audience. The group’s beatboxer, female world champion Belle “Bellatrix” Ehresmann really blew us away as did other members Alyusha Chagrin, Yvette Riby-Williams, Neo Joshua and Kate Brown. These guys have what it takes to make it big and their cover of Rudimental’s “Waiting All Night” was incredible.
Closing Brisfest and with it the fantastic summer that we’ve had were Glaswegian indie rock headliners, Primal Scream. As crowds gathered at the main stage the excitement was building. Frontman Bobby Gillespie burst onto the stage exclaiming “Bristol! Are you ready to rock and roll” and the audience responded as the band launched into and 90 minute uninterrupted set. Primal Scream were the perfect choice to headline this year’s festival and the high energy performance ensured that the party atmosphere was kept alive until the very end.
The ethos behind Brisfest is to provide a platform for rising local talent to play alongside international headliners and for the festival to be kept as a community event rather than a corporate one. This hard work is evident when you see how big the festival has become. With a team of volunteers as dedicated as the Brisfest team, the future looks bright for this incredible festival and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
Brisfest 2013 in pictures
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