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Express yourself: Brand new performance area unveiled for Bristol Harbour Festival

Bristol Harbour Festival to transform Millenium Square into the Expression Stage for panels, talks and discussions whilst dazzling circus stunts are set to return to College Green


The countdown is officially on until the Bristol Harbour Festival anchors into the heart of the city from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 July 2024. A brand new performance area, the Expression Stage, will head to Millenium Square for a series of talks, panels, discussions, poetry, spoken word and even a silent disco as a new addition to the festival programme.

Bristol Harbour Festival has also announced the return of the Family Playground at College Green where the iconic Cirque Bijou will be bringing friends from a number of companies, such as Circomedia and Levantes Dance Theatre, to perform mind-boggling aerial stunts and street style theatre as part of their Cirque Bijou Presents area. The young and young at heart can get involved with crafts, exploring Bristol’s seven twin cities, pirate themed drama workshops, and Go With The Flow Yoga for some nautical themed yoga for  5-11 year olds, which will include accessible and energetic yoga-based games followed by a short relaxation at the end.


Brave Bold Drama is also on hand to transport budding artists to a lighthouse on an island with their latest installation ‘The Keepers’. Through wholesome improvised storytelling, imbued with humour and inventive storytelling techniques, they’ll weave captivating tales that are sure to leave audiences hooked before being able to create their own seaside artwork on chalkboards, or even create seaside inspired origami. Offering a more tranquil experience, children can unwind in The Travelling Library tent where they can immerse themselves in a live storytelling experience that dives into tales about ethnically diverse characters from around the globe.

Councillor Tony Dyer, Leader of Bristol City Council, said:

“Bristol has always been a powerhouse for arts and culture, and the Harbour Festival is the perfect way to showcase our city’s wonderful creatives. We’re really thrilled with the introduction of the Expression Stage and putting on talks from industry leaders. As a city, we’re passionate about supporting home-grown talents, and these discussion panels will give them further insights and inspiration. This year's lineup truly captures Bristol's commitment to breaking moulds and amplifying diverse voices, highlighting Bristol’s vibrant heritage and creative landscape.”

Vicky Lee, Director of Bristol City Centre BID, and Steve Bluff, Director of Redcliffe & Temple BID, supporters of this year’s Bristol Harbour Festival, said:

“It’s such a brilliant event for our local businesses as well as residents and visitors alike as there’s so many opportunities to engage with fun activities over the weekend. Even when the main programme ends, the festivities carry on with Fringe elements and events taking over local businesses. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the city for the festival, and if you’re looking for something that the entire family can enjoy, the Family Playground on College Green is the place to go.”

Bringing even more arts, culture, music and a boatload of fun for all ages, this year’s event will introduce a limited number of VIP tickets, which will give ticket holders exclusive access to the Amphitheatre’s viewing platform. VIP tickets will also give purchasers access to an exclusive bar, drinks tokens upon arrival, separate loos, and unbeatable views of the stellar Harbour View and On The Water programme. 

Where boundaries are pushed and artistic expression welcomed, the Expression Stage at Millenium Square will be a treasure trove of creative performance, including Disco Neurotico who will kick start the festival with a (not-so-loud ) bang and a boogie on Friday night with their unmissable silent disco. Festival-goers  will be able to switch between three channels; house, garage and drum and bass, the second with funk, soul and disco, and a third channel with ambient noise for those with neurodivergent sensitivities. 

Saturday 20 July puts industry leaders at the forefront of the talks and panels, with experts from Bristol Beacon, Saffron Records, and Ujima Radio each leading insightful discussions on the music industry today. As the sun sets, Bristol can enjoy a soulful evening of jazz and blues music hosted by Jelli Records with performances from Aviator Brass, The Original Barn Finds and many more .

Switching it up for Sunday 21 July with even more activity to get involved in, prepare to hear inspiring stories about the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers, as well as celebrating 200 years of service with the official festival charity partners. The weekend at the Expression Stage will culminate  in a three-hour poetry extravaganza hosted by three-time published poet Rebecca Tantony. Experience the full spectrum of poetic expression, from comedic limericks to emotion-filled slam poetry and spoken rap, all accompanied by R&B beats that will inspire a new generation of Bristol bards.

Families can embark on thrilling wildlife hunts around the harbour all weekend long with Bristol’s newest nature education site, Wildscreen ARK. Fun-for-everyone, these hunts teach little ones about local wildlife while exploring the scenic harbourside. An interactive Family Foam  Party with Party Peeps also awaits on Sunday afternoon and visitors should also keep an eye out for walk-about pirates throughout the weekend as they recruit landlubbers for their daring quest to uncover golden treasure.

For more information on the Bristol Harbour Festival, head to the website for all the latest line-up and performance information, and Follow the event on Facebook, Instagram and X

VIP tickets are available to purchase over on the website here for £15. To support this year’s festival, there’s the option to make a donation – and all funds will go directly into the artist programming for 2024.



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