Bristol Harbour Festival is back (15-17 July) with two miles of boats, food markets, craft stalls, circus acts, live music and performers stretching from the new Underfall Yard visitor centre to Castle Park. To add to the excitement on what promises to be a sizzling weekend of entertainment, there are two more amazing festivals: Cary Comes Home, a tribute to the Bristol-born Hollywood star Cary Grant, and Bristol Americana Weekend, staging the best in roots, country and blues. 

Image - Plaster Communications

Stages

Image - Plaster Communications

As ever you can expect a colourful mix of dance stages, demonstrations, daredevil stunts and more – all kicking off with a gig in Lloyds Amphitheatre by 80s rockers Echo & The Bunnymen. There are still a few tickets left, grab yours here: www.colstonhall.org/shows/echo-the-bunnymen

For the rest of the weekend, the Amphitheatre will be a hub for free music. The line-up includes ska band Moonshot, Mardi Gras favourites Brass Junkies and a tribute set for Bristol’s own much-missed DJ Derek, whose performances were always a festival highlight, by his great-niece Jenny Griffiths.

Meanwhile the area around Brunel’s ss Great Britain will host the BBC Radio Bristol stage where you can see rising folk star Sam Scott and London outfit Souls Captive. For acoustic, go to Cascade Steps for a diverse programme presented by Jelli Records. Listen out for the electronic grooves of Knowle West’s Makala Cheung. Finally, the Bristol Plays Music stage on Welsh Back will celebrate some of the city’s unsung talent.

Shimmy on over to the Dance Village on Queen Square to see performances from rising stars as well as international acts. Don’t miss Casson & Friends, who will be creating a dance for Bristol using movements from the city’s residents collected in just two hours. 

Family fun  

Image - Jim Cossey 

In Castle Park, you’ll be blown away by all sorts of aerial acts, stunts and family friendly fun thanks to spectacular local show makers Cirque Bijou. The Circus Stage and Children’s Area will see some of the best circus artists from Bristol and beyond including headline star Dergin Tokmak who incorporates his crutches into his distinctive dance style. Kids will love seeing Andy Day, from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on CBeebies, exploring imaginative playscapes and getting stuck in at some of the many excellent workshops designed just for them.

On the water, Bristol’s maritime heritage will be celebrated with familiar sights such as The Matthew, Brunel’s ss Great Britain and the city’s ferries as well as visiting tall ships and leisure craft. Bristol Gig Club will be racing their rowing boats across the Harbour whilst fly boarders, powered by jetpacks, will be wowing audiences with madcap diving displays. Catch a ride on historic vessels from the M Shed’s fleet, the John King and Pyronaut, and watch out for Kathleen & May - Britain’s last working three-mast wooden hull topsail schooner.

Across the pond 

 

Image - Bristol Americana Weekend 

For American-themed hijinks, head to Bristol Americana Weekend (15-17 July) which celebrates American music styles from blues to bluegrass at St George’s Bristol, The Lantern and Colston Hall. Headlining at Colston Hall on Sunday 17 July is superstar singer-songwriter Elvis Costello & The Imposters, known for hits such as Alison and Everyday I Write the Book. Over at St George’s catch the The HillBenders Present TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry, a re-imagining of The Who’s rock musical Tommy. There’ll also be a series of free foyer performances at Colston Hall, with musicians including multi-instrumentalist Gill Landry, and contemporary country singer, Callaghan. For tickets go to www.colstonhall.org or www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk.

Image - Evening Post 

For stateside glitz and glamour, check out the Cary Comes Home festival which runs alongside the Harbour Festival on 16 and 17 July. Maritime Bristol’s role in propelling local lad Archie Leach into Hollywood superstar Cary Grant is to be celebrated with two days of screenings, vintage entertainment, talks and tours. In recognition of the actor’s boyhood love of the docks and extra harbourside buzz, the festival’s events will be inspired by the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel. The celebrations culminate in a Gala Screening of Bringing Up Baby (1938), in which the dashing actor played a palaeontologist. Aptly, the red carpet will be rolled out for the screening at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. And be sure to dress up in all your finery - there'll be prizes for guests whose outfits best reflect the Golden Age of Hollywood chic. Go to www.carycomeshome.co.uk for details. 

For more of this weekend's festival events visit bristolharbourfestival.co.uk or pick up a programme from Bristol Tourist Information Centre, conveniently located on the Harbourside.

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