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Bristol Harbour Festival

Add Bristol Harbour Festival to your Itinerary

Harbour Festival Bristol 2014 (41)


Showcasing the city’s incredible maritime heritage, the historic floating harbour takes pride of place during the weekend, celebrating its rich history with free, family-friendly activities programmed on the water’s edge.

This year highlights include visiting tall ships, The Pelican and the World’s smallest tall ship, The Little Brig, an ‘aircraft carrier’ race challenge and the return of the Shipshape and Bristol Fashion Best Dressed Boat competition.

Leading Bristol into the biggest weekend of the summer, Colston Hall will present two one-off gigs on Bristol’s Harbourside. On Thursday 18 July, legendary British band New Order will take the stage while ska pioneers The Specials kick off the weekend on Friday 19 July as part of their 40th anniversary tour.

Stretching from Underfall Yard on Cumberland Road to the city centre and Queen Square, there will be something for everyone from dance, food markets, live bands, demonstrations, family entertainment and daredevil stunts.

Read our guide to the 2019 Harbour Festival

Plan your train journey to Bristol

Public transport in Bristol

Bristol Music Stage, Lloyds Amphitheatre

The free festivals main music hub will return to Lloyd’s Amphitheatre with its natural acoustics helping performers put on a fantastic show. This year will see the Bristol Music Stage showcase how world influences are resonated in the city’s music scene with an eclectic mix of swing, reggae, jazz and blues, folk and soul music filling the Harbour.

Bristol Community Big Band will start the proceedings on Saturday with their swing and funk classics, followed by contemporary Cumbia music by Camo Clave, Phantom Ensemble where jazz meets hip hop, afrobeat and reggae fusions courtesy of Matuki and Bristol’s legendary party band, Doreen Doreen. Headlining the Bristol Music Stage on Saturday night is legendary Bristol DJ Rob Smith. Better known as RSD, Rob rose to fame as one half of Smith & Mighty and blazed the way for the city’s dubstep scene.

On Sunday, the Amphitheatre will come to life with Tan Teddy, a Bristol collective dedicated to celebrating Jamaican culture through song, Bristol based Australia singer-songwriter Nuala Honan, Amodou Diagne & Yakar with their Senegalese rhythms mixed with blues and funk, Bristol born slam poet, Dizraeli and close with the city’s greatest festival party band, Sheelanagig.


Centre Stage, Cascade Steps

Acoustic music will once again be at the heart of the Floating Harbour as Jelli Records present their Centre Stage programme on Cascade Steps hosting a multitude of great local acts.

With 80 per cent of the programme coming through the festival’s expression of interest programme, the stage will open on Saturday with The Great Sea Choir, Rosina Keir, The Harrions, the Barnacle Buoys, Julu Irvine and Heg Brignall, Mireille Mathlener and Laimu.  On Sunday expect new sea songs from shanty band, Storm Force 10, cover singer, Jodie Mellor,The Bristol Sea Slugs, Charlie Limm, Jazz the Two of Us, Maaike Siegerist and close with grunge soul collective, Sounds of Harlowe.


Dockside Stage, The Grove

While Thekla may be undergoing refurbishment, their music programme will continue during the Harbour Festival weekend with the Dockside Stage. Start the day the right way with Punk Rock Aerobics followed by Hush Mozey, The Rupees, Sam Brockington, Farebrother, Joe Probert and Katy J Pearson on Saturday. Sunday afternoon’s tunes will kick off with indie pop artist Gabriel Templar, Luke Marshall Black, multi-instrumentalist Richard the Fourth, RVBY, AGATA and gypsy, folk-rock band Imprints.


Discovery Stage, XXX

This year the Discovery Stage will be programmed by Access Creative College, formerly Access to Music. The stage will be programmed with vocal artists, music performers and music producers currently studying at the college alongside performances from students currently working with Bristol Music Trust.


Brunel Stage, ss Great Britain

As well as market stalls and a plethora of activities to keep all the family entertained, the ss Great Britain is also home to the Brunel Stage with live music entertaining the crowds over the weekend.

Featuring an eclectic line-up, the stage will open with a strong maritime theme with The Frampton Shantymen followed by the Batala Bristol Samba Reggae Drumming Band, Bristol born and bred Ceili, the Gentle Hooligans, Ji & the Rainbirds and Eden Root’s Reggae Band on Saturday.

On Sunday the stage will open with The South Wales Clarinet Choir, the 20 strong North Somerset Samba band, Nigerian-born British singer-songwriter Bee Bakare, ZYLA, Sol Feo and the edgy, experimental sounds of Baraka.


On The Water

Bristol’s maritime heritage will be at the heart of the Harbour Festival as it’s history is celebrated on the waters of the Floating Harbour and the Bathurst Basin, next to the Louisiana. From familiar sights such as The Matthew, ss Great Britain and the city’s colourful ferries to the many visiting tall ships and leisure craft, the waters will be awash with colour and activity.

Highlights this year include the visiting tall ship, The Pelican and the world’s smallest tall ship, the Little Brig, measuring just 9 metres in size. Professional jet skier and daredevil Jack Moule will bring back his jet ski stunts and new for this year will see engineering businesses compete in the ‘aircraft carrier’ challenge.

The Western Boat Show will return with a huge selection of both inland and offshore boats ranging from yachts, power boats, canal boats to ribs. Alongside the super yachts will be some impressive cardboard creations, with the cardboard boat race returning as teams race across the docks using only cardboard to propel themselves.

Finally, 2019 will see the return of the Shipshape and Best Dressed Boat Competition where vessels of all shapes and sizes will be asked to attend the festival in their best finery extending all of the colour of the festival onto the water.


The Circus Playground, Queen Square

Daredevil stunts, high quality circus, comedy street theatre and activities for children and families will be on offer in Queen Square thanks to Bristol’s own Cirque Bijou, transforming it into a highly accessible and exciting place for families to enjoy a range of free performances and activities.

Amongst the exciting performances and activities on offer, you can see Cirque Bijou’s own ‘Harmonic’, a mesmerising trapeze and cello duet created for Kew Gardens’ refurbished Temperate House. There’s clowning from internationally acclaimed Fraser Hooper, showcase performances from Circomedia’s emerging artists, King Edmund’s Acrobatics and Circus Stars Frome. There’ll be performances above audiences’ heads with aerial, mini flying and highline rigs, and performances on the ground with a bubble artist, some larger-than-life sloths and plenty of juggling and hula hooping.

Younger audiences will delight in interactive performances from Tiny Little Clouds Theatre and Dragonbird Theatre, as well as a host of workshops and installations including Bocadalupa, A.P.E Project and Babel Babies….and the very youngest of audiences can enter their baby racing competition for some top prizes.


Bristol Dances, Millennium Square

The ever popular Bristol Dances stage returns to Millennium Square for its second year this year. Trinity Centre has curated an incredible programme featuring everything from street dance to swing.

On Saturday the stage will open with the youngest performers from Tiny Toes Ballet followed by BollyRed Dance Company, Urban Cookie: Dance Zumba Gold, Gerry’s Attic Dance Company, Dance Extreme BS13/Storm, Making Tracks Youth Music, 2 o’Clock Beauty Queens, Bristol Salsa Ladies Styling Team, Sublime Dance Troup, Rise Youth Dance, Hype Dance and Swing Dance Bristol and Swing Riot.

On Sunday, the tiniest of toes will open the day’s programme with Diddi Dance, followed by Dancin’ Tots, Mumtaz Dance Company (Bollywood Dance), Untold Dance Theatre, Original Spinners, Funk Supreme, Afon Sistema (Brazilian Dance), the Cabaret and Drag Dance Show, Piloexcersize, The Hills School of Irish Dance Performance and close with Ceilidh Dance with Mr Medler.


Spoken Word, Cathedral Walk

After launching at the Harbour Festival just two years ago as part of the Circus Playground, presenters Rebecca Tantony and Lydia Beardmore now present a full line-up of poetry and spoken word at Cathedral Walk.

This year, visitors can receive the perfect memento of their Harbour Festival visit thanks to Beth Caverley’s Poetry Machine and enjoy performances on Saturday from Isadora Vibes, Donna Williams, Pascal Vine, Malaika Kegode, Shagufta K Iqbal, Sophie Thakur, Afsham D’Souza-Lodhi, Joelle Taylor, 1990s Chris, Melanie Branton, Connor Macleod, Birdspeed, Tom Sastry and Rebecca Tantony and Dominic Hooper.

On Sunday the programme will feature performances by Josie Alford, Chris White, Craft-D, Dizraeli, Lawrence Hoo, Splitz P, Tanya Muneera Wiliams, Deanna Rodger, Stephen Lightsbown, Bath Calverley, Saili Katebe, Toby Thomson and a showcase of the next generation of artists from Bath Spa University



An experience for the nostrils as much as the taste buds, no visit to Bristol Harbour Festival is complete without a stroll around the Continential Market in Queen Square.

With its fantastic line-up of stalls from across France, Italy, Spain and Germany you can find olives, fresh bread, cheese and fresh fruit, tartiflette, paella and crepes alongside traditional gifts and crafts, including gorgeous handmade soaps and ceramics.

Listen to the sounds of the Harbour Festival’s live performers as you browse the sights of Narrow Quay’s market and exhibition area.


Bristol Harbour Festival attracts 250,000 visitors each year, bringing the city together as one community to celebrate Bristol’s rich and diverse maritime heritage and culture, as well artistic talents and local businesses.

The Harbour Festival’s official charity, Young Bristol, will present the Tea Rooms to the food line-up The Tea Tent, between Hannover Quay and the Amphitheatre on the Harbourside, will be serving slices of delicious home-baked cake and hot cups of tea and coffee.


Read more:
- Bristol Festivals
- Summer in Bristol
- Bristol Events Calendar


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Map & Directions

Road Directions

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Various locations

Tel: +44 (0)117 927 6614

Opening Times

Dates: (17 July 2020 - 19 July 2020)

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