The Bath Festival, which will see some of the biggest names in literature and music appearing in venues across Bath from 19 to 28 May, has just announced their programme of free entertainment for families during the festival week. There will be a variety of free creative workshops and circus skills classes, plus live music, theatre and poetry performances by local students and young people. Workshops will be booked on a first come, first served basis so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
All of these activities will take place in Queen Square, Milsom Street, Southgate, Kingsmead Square, Old Bond Street and at the festival hub on Alfred Street from 10 – 5pm on 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 & 28 May
Highlights by day
Friday 19th May, 6pm to 11.30pm
The festival kicks off with Party in the City on 19th May, Bath’s biggest night of free music, which will see over 2,000+ performer entertaining people across the city to celebrate the opening of the festival. The streets, parks and venues of Bath with be filled with a multitude of arts from electro-swing to cheerleading to Chinese shadow-puppetry. The city will come alive with folk, rock, classical, jazz, acoustic, swing and soul. See full listings
Saturday 20th May, 10am to 5pm
Kids can ‘Jump In’ to activities from 10am onwards in Alfred Street by helping to build a coral reef and underwater world inspired by their imaginations and the sea creatures in this creative space. Edwina Bridgeman will help children create their own sea creatures using recycled and reclaimed materials at 11am, 2pm and 4pm.
Flies Fly Away (aka Louis Campbell) will perform at 2pm in Kingsmead Square. Louis’ roots are in traditional folk music but he definitely has a modern electronic sound that will appeal to fans of alternative music. Indie Pop, R&B singer and songwriter, Ollie Ciaran, will follow with an array of original songs with a few covers that everyone will recognise at 2.45pm. See the full listings of free events for 20 May
Southgate Stage will be packed with a variety of poets such as Rhyme and Reason who will perform at 11.45am. They are a poetry collective who produce live spoken word poetry events across the South West. Look out for The Shuks from Bath Spa University at 2.30pm. They’re a raw, powerful and dissonant post punk band inspired by the likes of The Pixies, Sonic Youth and The Clash. RSC commissioned, previous Glastonbury Slam Champion, Toby Thompson will take to the stage at 3.30pm. He’s a regular on the festivals and events scene having appeared at WOMAD, Shambala, Cheltenham Literature, Leipzig Book Fair (Germany), Harare International Festival Of The Arts (Zimbabwe) and the Natural History Museum. Not forgetting The Supernatural Disco Band at 4.15pm who’ll perform dance floor classics, taking inspiration from New York clubs of the 70s such as Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage, Studio 54 and The Loft. If you love the recent Netflix hit ‘The Get Down’, you’ll love this.
Sunday 21st May, 10am to 5pm
On Alfred Street, Meridian Duo will run workshops that allow children to experience story through live music at 11am, 2pm and 4pm. They will listen to magical stories, set to music on marimba and percussion, and get involved in playing, singing, acting and dancing to bring these tales to life.
Hot Steppers, the Moorland Road all-female Morris dancing group, will perform in Kingsmead Square at 11.30am and 3.30pm. Sam Eason, a prolific singer-songwriter inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan and James Taylor, is on at 2pm. An emerging talent, his songs will pull at the heart-strings.
Just 3 Harmony Trio, who have been described as a ‘Pitch Perfect’ vocal harmony group, will sing passionate renditions of pop and soul numbers on the Southgate Stage at 1.15pm. 4th Project close at 3.30pm with their soulful vocals, electric guitar and live electronics which reflect their love of trip hop, soul, pop, electronic dance music and 90s R’n’B! See the full listings of free events for Sunday 21 May
Thursday 25th & Friday 26th May, 10am to 5pm
The Bath Spa Performance Poets will perform on Old Bond Street on both days at 1.15pm and throughout the festival. A number of schools will perform on the Southgate Stage: Twerton Infants School and St Michaels Primary School at 12.30pm on 25th; Oldfield Park Junior School at 11am and Ubley Primary School at 12.30pm on 26th. City of Bath College will perform at various times on both days.
Saturday 27th May, 10am to 5pm
Aaron Samuel will give the audience an outburst of raw, acoustic energy on Old Bond Street at 12.30pm. He’s 20 year old singer with an extraordinary ability to channel emotions into a tidal wave of words. Isobel Holly will also perform here at 3.30pm and despite her tender age, she has an enviable songwriting prowess that bonds engaging prose to memorable melody.
Absorbed by Sound kick off the day on the Southgate Stage at 11am. They’re a small inclusive group of disabled and non disabled musicians who have come together to create, perform and record music using a wide range of music technology and traditional instruments. The Theatre Royal Bath Theatre School will present a work-in-progress sharing their brand new devised performance ‘Nothing to See Here’ at 2pm; and Saint Loe will close at 4.15pm with their nostalgic yet modern-day pop sound. See the full listings for free festival events on Saturday 27 May
Sunday 28th May, 10am to 5pm
In Southgate, look out for Tea and Biscuits on stage at 2pm who comprise of quirky tea drinking solo artist Just Parsons and fingerstyle guitar player Ned Smith, they come to bring you a new take on acoustic music. They’re followed by We are the Parkas at 2.45pm who are one of Bath Spa University most promising bands, delivering indie music with lashings of rock and roll. Signe, a Bath based singer songwriter originally from Norway, will close at 3.30pm with her characteristic voice and melodic pop songs.
At 12.30pm on Old Bond Street, group of students from Hayesfield School known as the Hayesfield Papernation Poets will perform an original piece of work created with spoken word artists, Rebecca Tantony and Maliaka Kegode. This is a joint project between Bath Festivals and Paper Nations.
The much loved Family Arts Day will take place once again in Parade Gardens between 11am and 3pm. It’s a great opportunity for families to explore music, art and creative writing. There’ll also be live music on the bandstand and a musical treasure hunt. See the full free festival event listings for Sunday 28 May
Tickets to other events offered by The Bath Festival can be bought online at our What’s On pages
– Bath Box Office from 10.30am to 5pm
– Bath Box Office 01225 463362.