Bristol Harbour Festival’s 40th Annivarsary, 29th- 31st July 2011
The South West’s biggest free cultural event, the Bristol Harbour Festival, celebrates its 40th anniversary along Bristol’s picturesque harbour for three days from 29th- 31st July 2011. The harbourside will once again host live music, theatre, circus acts, dance stages and food stalls, while hundreds of historic and visiting boats sail into the harbour.
With over 250,000 visitors last summer, the event attracts visitors from across the UK, and highlights Bristol as a major cultural destination. To celebrate the festival’s 40th anniversary and its origins as maritime event, this year will see extra water based activity in the four days leading up to the festival. Harbour based highlights include: bands taking to the water aboard various vessels, rowing tug of war and hundreds of boats and ships sailing up the River Avon to get in place for the big festival weekend.
The festival is a rich and diverse platform for the city’s wealth of creativity, from dance performers to circus acts and a variety of musical stages including walking bands, interactive theatre and so much more. The festival stretches two miles along the city’s picturesque harbourside from Brunel’s ss Great Britain to M Shed, Bristol’s new museum and from Queen Square to the city’s leafy Castle Park, filling every cobbled street and open space with entertainment, including outdoor theatre from the Bristol Old Vic. Local and continental food stalls and markets line the streets, with dedicated French, Italian and German market offering visitors a mouth-watering choice of culinary delights.
The vibrant Dance Village area of the festival attracts renowned performers from across the UK. Visitors this year will be blown away by the assortment of beautiful, wild and mesmerising artists, including a mixture of acts from the worlds of ballet, African, salsa, Bollywood and street dance to name but a few.
Those inspired to give dance a try can head down to the participation dance stage, where the ‘Let’s Dance’ performance area, brought to you by NHS Bristol, gives visitors the chance to enjoy free dance sessions where they can tap, shake and swing their way to fitness, festival style.
Musically, the free festival has an impressive line up, drawing on the city’s vibrant music scene, covering a hugely diverse range from soul to folk, and from reggae to funk. Programmed by a team from the famous Colston Hall, the Queen Square stage is filled with the best of local music acts and visiting national and international artists, creating a fantastic atmosphere with picnics and dancing combining. If the audience can drag themselves away, the Cascade Steps stage offers a mellow location on the water, with acoustic musicians and slam poetry, whilst the best of Bristol’s youth culture perform on the Remix stage.
As the sun begins to set, festival-goers not quite ready to go home can head to one of the many indoor venues around the harbourside that will be continuing the live entertainment long into the night with ticketed events on Saturday night.
Castle Park offers a fabulous array of lively children friendly activities including playful storytelling, creative activities, face painting, interactive performances and a multitude of rides.
Bristol is a major centre for contemporary circus, with no less than two circus schools based in the city, together with number of international agencies, with audience participation readily available for those wishing to let loose! Drawing together people with fun, lively and unique activities, Cirque Bijou will return to dazzle the crowds with a full circus stage, complete with aerial and static trapeze performers, juggling, acrobatics and hoop artists with performances that will entrance all ages.
Bristol’s harbourside offers a diverse and unique setting for a weekend of fun, with the varied entertainment delighting both local and visiting audiences. The Bristol Harbour Festival may be celebrating its 40th birthday, but with every year providing fresh new and distinctive content, the festival’s popularity continues to grow year on year.