The Bath Festival 2019 Programme Announcement

The Bath Festival launches its 2019 celebration of music and literature with a diverse programme of more than 120 events over ten days in May (Friday 17 – Sunday 26 May). Among the stellar line-up are Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Darcey Bussell, Radio2’s drive time presenter Sara Cox, leading film critic Mark Kermode, Last Night at the Proms sensation Jess Gillam and the original people’s poet, Pam Ayres. Headlining the Festival Finale on Bath Recreation Ground over the weekend of 1 – 2 June, will be Grammy award winning British band Clean Bandit (Saturday night) and legendary singer-songwriter Van Morrison (Sunday night).

Festival Hightlights

  • Historian Kate Williams will talk about her book Rival Queens which explores the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.
  • Chineke! stormed the Proms in 2017 and now its Bath’s turn to enjoy the first professional orchestra in Europe to feature mainly black and minority ethnic musicians.
  • Ted Hughes poetry award winner and spoken word artist Hollie McNish will deliver her unique brand of raw and entertaining chat and readings.
  • In collaboration with The Fringe Festival, global sensation Apparat aka Sacsha Ring brings his unique electronics from Berlin to Bath.
  • Lankum, a four-piece Irish folk band who have been described as ‘a younger, darker Pogues’ (The Guardian).
  • Sir Michael Parkinson, one of the nation’s best loved chat show hosts, in conversation with his son Michael.
  • Penguin Cafe is a unique collaborative group of musicians who blur the boundaries between pop and classical music.
  • Jo Brand, feminist, comedian and broadcaster, on Born Lippy, will talk about life as a woman and what she wishes she knew when she was younger.
  • Mark Kermode and The Dodge Brothers. A double treat for festival-goers as the film critic talks about his memoir and then joins his band the Dodge Brothers for some foot-stomping songs about love, death and transport.
  • Austentatious. Back by popular demand is this comic improv troupe who discover a ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel to the delight of their audiences.
  • A Concert for the People of Bath, featuring Bath Philharmonia Orchestra with Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano, and Jess Gillam, saxopohone.

The festival’s chief executive Ian Stockley said:

“We are delighted to announce our programme for 2019, where we bring to the city leading writers, musicians and speakers who will cover a huge range of musical styles and books for all tastes. Our music programme features concerts with some of the most gifted talent emerging on the global stage performing alongside internationally acclaimed performers. There are events for runners and football fans, foragers and parents, crime novel readers and anyone who’s ever got stuck doing a crossword. The festival continues to go from strength to strength as we collaborate with many individuals, venues and businesses who support The Bath Festival to make it an event with local, national and international appeal. Having the legendary singer songwriter Van Morrison on the Rec is the perfect way to close this year’s festival.”

The festival gives audiences the chance to explore some of the big issues of the day, including how we can save the oceans from plastic pollution, coping with anxiety and mental health, the state of our education system, living with dementia, and gender politics as well as enjoying some of the finest music to come to the south west.

Bath’s biggest night of free music, Party in the City, opens the festival on Friday 17 May. SparkFest, a partnership with Bath Spa University, returns with an exciting programme of theatre, music and dance, created by the stars of tomorrow. The festival has teamed up with Twerton Park, the home of Bath City Football Club, to stage Pitch Invasion, this year’s Bath Festivals Creative Learning schools commission, inspired by the sounds and songs from the terraces.  Hear their chorus and cheer them along at 6pm in the city centre as part of Party in the City.

Also on opening night the ears of the world will be on Bath as the BBC broadcasts its popular long-running Friday Night is Music Night from The Forum in Bath, featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Bramwell Tovey and with the theme The Magic of Musicals.

Festival Book Seller

Mr B’s Emporium Bookshop has been announced as the official bookseller for The Bath Festival. All the books in the programme will be available from Mr B’s Festival Bookshop at The Assembly Rooms throughout the festival and there will be pop-up bookshops at every event.

Nic Bottomley of independently owned Mr B’s, said: “In between enjoying the range of amazing events, festivals goers are in for an extra treat as we’ve just opened the doors to our newly expanded, gorgeous bookshop on John Street. Come and explore our huge selection of wonderful books, our new Woods from the Words children’s room, our writers and artists Imaginarium and meet our friendly team of booksellers.”

Festival Collections

BloodBath: for those who like it darker, a series of of events themed around crime and thriller writing, including the creator of Killing Eve, Luke Jennings and three female writers talk about their new novels for an afternoon with Bloody Women.

Classical Stars of the Future: A series of hour-long concerts by some of the finest newcomers all under the age of 30. The artists share an unquenchable desire to enthuse, engage and entertain through their joy in music-making.

Song Play: Two evenings of song and film curated by Iain Burnside and Neil Brand and commissioned for the Festival explore the alchemy between the different art forms. Both The Lure of Hollywood in film and song and the songsmith and master film composer Richard Rodney Bennett concerts include detailed introductions, songs delivered by terrific singers and scenes from iconic films.

Hidden Stories: Former Artistic Director, Alex Clark has created a strand of events exploring hidden lives, voices and stories not usually heard, but which will challenge, intrigue and inspire.

 Booking dates

Patrons: 25 February
Silver and Gold Members: 28 February
Bronze Members: 4 March
General Booking: 7 March

How to book

  • In person at Bath Box Office from 9.30am to 5.30pm on the release dates
  • By telephone on 01225 463362.
  • Online at
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