Festival goers at The Bath Festival Finale Weekend on the Bath Recreation ground this weekend experienced the entire range of British summer weather, from hot sunshine to a rainy downpour in the space of just two days. And what a weekend it was.
Saturday was scorching in more ways than one. There was a great turnout, with a wide age range of people, from babes in arms to grandparents and they sat on picnic rugs making the most of the sunshine, while up on stage the musicians were keeping the temperatures soaring. Teenage girls screamed at the arrival of Bristol based singer and actor Raleigh Ritchie, who made his appearance wearing a space helmet. And Brit award nominee Mabel, with her troupe of cool female dancers, set the style stakes high in her white shades and boots.
The crowd were in fine voice, singing along with Mabel and later, when headliners the chart-topping Clean Bandit came on stage, the audience created a symphony of sound as they sang along with the band’s hits as night fell. Throughout the day the Big Top was rocking to more great acts, including Isobel Holly, the Bath based singer-songwriter the winner of last year’s Bath Introduces talent competition.
The 2019 finals of Bath Introduces were keenly battled out by 6 acts, who all played on the Main Stage and were scrutinised by a panel of expert judges. By Sunday afternoon in a close-run competition of some very talented acts, the winner was announced as Dessie Magee, the Irish singer and guitarist with his self-named four-piece band who are based in Brighton. They’ll go into the recording studios at Real World for a professional session as part of their prize.
We had great on-site entertainment all weekend from creative companies involved in Bath Fringe Festival. Street theatre performances included a pair of playful elephants and a couple of curiously mobile gargoyles who attempted to steal chips from passers-by. Our younger visitors were whooping it up on the kids’ field, where the Super Pirates kept them entertained, while mums and dads didn’t have to worry about feeding the family as there was a wide selection of food stands to choose from, including hearty organic burgers, yummy chocolate brownies, nachos, stuffed Yorkshire puddings, Japanese noodles and a selection of healthy plant based dishes.
On Sunday the heavens opened, but that didn’t dampen the festival spirit and MF Robots and the Hothouse Flowers (getting the crowd singing I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Has Gone) dispelled any rainy day blues. By the time Corinne Bailey Rae had come on for a chilled melodic set, the crowds had gathered, absorbed in the music, by the main stage and the bars were busy. In the Big Top the Renegade Brass Band and Tom Speight were among the acts who won themselves a new set of fans, while on the City Stage people were enjoying the intimacy of being up close to the performers in this small tent.
Headliner, the legendary Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, who has been delighting fans for five decades, delivered a fast-paced impeccable set as he and his tightly knit band romped through a selection of his back catalogue without seeming to pause for breath. As we Moondanced our way across the grass, happy at the end of a great festival, the Renegade Brass Band closed the party with a suitably jaunty hip-hop session.
It’s been an epic journey for The Bath Festival 2019, from Party in the City on Friday 17 May, through ten days of some stellar live events centred on books, music and the big issues of our time. And now we’ve folded the banners away, our music promoters Orchard Live have packed away the stages, we’ve thanked our amazing band of volunteers and dusted off our small but hard-working team. So now we’re already looking ahead to 2020 and starting to plan how we can make The Bath Festival even bigger and better next year.
Meanwhile, plans for the Bath Children’s Literature Festival are well underway, watch this space in the coming weeks for news of the line-up of visiting authors and illustrators, who will delight adults and children alike this autumn.