Bath Festivals In Time: A Look Back Through The Archives

For more than 70 years, Bath Festivals have brought world-leading musicians and authors to Bath. We’ve been sifting through the Bath in Time archives recently and came across these fascinating images of our festivals though the decades. If you’d like to see Bath Festivals survive for future generations, you can donate to our Crowdfunder here

Of course, at the centre of all of these festivals have been audiences. For that reason, we want to hear your favourite festival memories. Whether it’s the Festival of Blues in 1969 or the Children’s Literature Festival in 2019, we’d love to hear from you! As well as reflecting on the past, we want to look ahead to the years to come and are also collecting future festival wishes. To share your memories and wishes with us, please click here

1. Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden – 1962

This is from June 1962 and shows Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden meeting a reveller dressed in Venetian mask, cloak and tricorn hat as part of a Venetian picnic evening in Parade Gardens. As well as live music each party goer received a supper basket filled with smoked salmon and asparagus rolls and strawberries and cream. Bottles of rose wine were shipped in to Bath especially from Italy.


2. Opening ceremony – 1965

Crowds jostle each other good naturedly in Kingston Parade for the opening ceremony of The Bath Festival in 1965.

3. The Bath Blues Festival 1969

This is from the much talked about 1969 Bath Blues Festival on the Rec. They issued 7,000 tickets but 30,000 people showed up. The two-day event saw Led Zeppelin, 10 Years After and Fleetwood Mac play. There were letters to The Bath Chronicle afterwards complaining about hippies, people sleeping out on the grass and stealing milk from doorsteps in the mornings.

4. The Bath Blues Festival – 1970

From May 1970 this Bath Chronicle news report shows a guitarist, part of the crowd at the Bath Blues Festival in Twerton Park.


5. Roman rendezvous nights – 1973

One of the annual Roman Rendezvous nights in the Great Bath at the Roman Baths. People took their swimming costumes along for a dip in the Great Bath before joining the dancing in the Pump Room. This photo was taken in 1973 but the parties were held regularly between 1962 and as late as 1978.


6. Milsom Street Parade – 1975

A parade of bands, musicians, buses and horses made its way down Milsom Street during The Bath Festival of 1975.


7. Fancy dress picnics – 1981

On the opening night of The Bath Festival in 1981 a fancy dress procession, consisting of people of all ages dressed as clowns, made its way from Abbey Church Yard to Royal Victoria Park. For many years crowds would gather in Royal Victoria Park on opening night, enjoying picnics while they listened to music from choirs and orchestras. The evening traditionally ended with fireworks going off with the Royal Crescent lit up by their lights, which could be seen right across the city.

8. Prince Charles – 1989

Prince Charles attends a concert at Christ Church in Julian Road on 6 June 1989 as part of The Bath Festival.

9. Colourful clothing decorations – 1993

Lines of colourful clothing hung like washing across Green Street as part of the city’s decorations for the festival in 1993.

10. George Street carnival procession – 1993

The Bath Festival’s own colourful carnival procession makes its way along George Street in 1993.

If you’d like Bath Festivals to create more memories in the future, we need your support. Reduced ticket sales, sponsorship and public funding from the COVID-19 crisis had a devastating effect and we’re now raising emergency funds. Donate to our Crowdfunder here.

Thanks to Bath in Time for sharing these photos. Bath In Time, an archive for photographs and images of the city and surrounding area through the ages, is an excellent source for anyone trying to trace their family’s past, or to find an image to give as a gift to jog a happy memory. View the archives here.

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