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Bristol Harbour Festival : The Big 5 0

As Bristol Harbour Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary, we take a closer look at what we can look forward to on 15 – 17 July…

Bristol’s flagship event, the Bristol Harbour Festival is returning to the city this month to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The amphitheatre’s Bristol Music Stage will feature long-loved Bristol acts – many of whom are celebrating key anniversaries this year, including 40 years for the ultimate party band Doreen Doreen. The festival will also champion the city’s incredible female DJs with Queen Bee taking to the decks throughout the weekend and Dazee headlining Saturday night’s programme.

On Sunday, the Amphitheatre will come to life with Makala Cheung – Bristol Happiness Champion and self-proclaimed Knowle Wester who will open the show with her song Boombox, inspired by stories of Filwood and Knowle West residents.

On Centre Stage at Cascade Steps, acoustic music will once again be at the heart of the Floating Harbour as Jelli Records hosts a multitude of great local acts. With the stunning backdrop of the harbour, the stage will open on Saturday with Bass Choir, Brian Inglis, The Mighty Shinkickers, Maaike Siegerist, Jaz Reza, Harri Mason and Bristol’s very own faux-French trans-Balkan folk band, Frome en Feu, headlining Saturday evening with their pan-European dance tunes.

On Sunday expect afrobeat rhythms from Lebo Montshiwa, old-school reggae from Onika Venus and folk and roots from Barry Walsh – who incidentally was also responsible for naming ‘Castle Bridge’ in Bristol.

For the first time ever, there will be free entry to the Albion Dockyard at Hanover Place throughout the weekend, where staff and volunteers from the SS Great Britain Trust will welcome guests to the 540ft-long Grade-II listed dock for unique views of the working shipyard and harbour. Tall Ship Fridtjof Nansen will be in the dry dock with the crew inviting people aboard to hear about the work of youth development charity, Seas Your Future.

On Brunel Square, a new year-long outdoor photography exhibition is set to open, showcasing the theme of discovery and Bristol’s global connections through the Albion Dock and the SS Great Britain.

The world premiere of The Hamlet Voyage, a one-of-a-kind theatrical critique of the very beginnings of British colonial ambitions, is also coming to the festival – performed on Bristol’s famous ship, The Matthew, which will be docked at Underfall Yard Cafe for this special event. Limited first-come, first-served seats will be available aboard, with plenty more on the shore of Underfall Yard Cafe.

Showcasing the city’s incredible maritime heritage, the historic floating harbour takes pride of place during the weekend, celebrating its rich history with free, family-friendly activities programmed on the water’s edge. Eight visiting Tall Ships will join a host of vessels for the weekend, all decorated for the occasion.

What’s more, Daredevil stunts, high quality circus, comedy street theatre and creative workshops for children and families will be on offer in Queen Square thanks to Bristol’s own Cirque Bijou.

Trinity Community Arts will present Bristol Dances in Millennium Square. Nine performance areas will feature familiar favourites and new attractions, filling one and a half miles of the city with music, vessels, food markets, circus acts, live music and performers this July. Ebb & Flow, an inclusive programme showcasing community collaborations and emerging and established creative voices will also be entertaining audiences throughout the weekend.

For more information and to see the full line-up, visit: bristolharbourfestival.co.uk, or see @Bristolharbfest on Twitter and @BristolHarbourFest on Instagram

Images credit: Paul Box