10 things to look out for at The Bath Festival in May
The Bath Festival opens on Friday 13 May and runs to Saturday 21 May, opening with the FREE Party
in the City and closing with a concert by iconic British music act Public Service Broadcasting in The
Forum. It’s good to be able to go back to attending live events, so here’s a round-up of just some of over
130 events to look forward to.
1 Party in the City is back! From 5pm on Friday 13 May there will be loads of FREE live music in Bath
city venues. Thousands of people are expected to come into town to hear music of all genres, from
choirs in churches, to samba on the streets, rock in pubs, or the cool sounds of jazz floating out in the
late spring evening air. The stars of the local music scene will be playing indoor and outdoor venues,
including Queen Square and Parade Gardens.
Look out for the Party in the City leaflet or download the Pixie app to find out who’s playing where and
plan your evening entertainment.
2 Look for some famous faces around Bath during the festival. Veteran war reporter Martin Bell,
comedians Phil Wang (who went to school in Bath), Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris, bestselling
author Marian Keyes, historian David Olusoga, singer and poet PJ Harvey and the creator of the
Grantchester series James Runcie will all be coming to speak at the festival.
3 Beautiful venues filed with sublime music. The specially created Bath Festival Orchestra will be
playing a suitably water themed programme beside the Roman Baths, while The Tallis Scholars –
dubbed ‘the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music’ by the New York Times will sing in Bath Abbey. Multi
award-winning Scottish folk singer-songwriter Karine Polwart will be performing a stripped back
performance of voice and piano with Dave Milligan, or if you like your folk a little rowdier don’t miss the
party at Komedia with Old Sea Legs and Mad Dog Mcrea headlining. Musos won’t want to miss out the
chance to see Public Service Broadcasting’s mix of music and film footage at The Forum.
4 The big issues of our time will be under the spotlight. Hear Rob Percival discuss the debate around
meat eating, campaigner George Monbiot will also discuss the ethics of farming and Olive Bullough,
author of bestselling non-fiction work Butler to the World looks at the incendiary topic of Britain’s decline.
Be inspired by Kris Hallenga, who founded the breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel after her own
cancer diagnosis aged 23, or listen to a discussion about the impact that internet influencers have on us.
Listen to what the experts say, first hand and live!
5 Free festival stuff – get stuck in to The Bath Festival experience. Call in to the Festival Hub which will
be set up in Queen Square over the first weekend of the festival. Drop in and enjoy FREE live music,
hands-on activities for families, entertainment and surprise pop-up performances. Meet up with friends or
workmates and make the most of the food and drink concessions to relax and soak up the festival
atmosphere. Listen out too for Empirical, the contemporary cool jazz ensemble, who will be playing a
series of free pop-up gigs in an empty shop in Bath city centre.
6 There is a strong local strand to The Bath Festival. The city’s own Bath Philharmonia orchestra will
be playing the traditional Concert for the People of Bath, dedicated to the memory of Brian and Margaret
Roper who did so much for the arts in Bath. They’ll be joined on stage at The Forum (Thurs 19 May) by
the massed ranks of The Band of the Royal Marines School of Music with a strong brass sound! Bath
based writer, with 13 bestsellers to her name, Harriet Evans will be talking about her new book The
Beloved Girls, while bookshop Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights will be the festival official
bookseller. Former Financial Times foreign correspondent William Keeling will be talking about his
entertaining new series of satirical historical novels set in Bath.
7 You saw it hear first . . . So many of The Bath Festival experiences will be unique. Take, for instance,
the series of concerts at the Holburne Museum featuring the rising stars of classical music. Relax in to
this intimate space for a really special aural treat. There are pairings of speakers in conversation that you won’t hear anywhere else. Nobel Literature prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah will be talking to Turkish-
British novelist and activist Elif Shafak about their work and themes such as the notions of home to Britishness. Broadcaster Justin Webb will be talking to author Richard Beard (Sad Little Men) and broadcaster Mark Lawson about the notion that sending little boys away to boarding school may not
make them the best people to run the country as adults.
8 Added extras. Last year’s themed guided walking tours were one of the sell-out successes of The
Bath Festival. This year there will be three new tours. Sign up to hear the story of the Bath Blitz of 1942
and see the buildings that were affected. Explore the city’s favourite locations, as seen on film and TV, or
join a walk which focuses on Bath’s spa history and its place among the great spa towns of Europe.
9 Have some fun. Gather together a group of girlfriends for a great night out at Women on Top at The
Forum, presented by five funny women, including comedian/writer Isy Suttie. There’ll be laughter, and
maybe a few wry smiles as they tackle life’s challenges, from marriage and divorce to raising children or
facing infertility. If you’re a self-confessed anorak when it comes to popular music, go along to The Birth
of Pop, in which musician and writer Bob Stanley talks to his old friend, fellow music writer Pete
Paphides about the history of pop before rock and roll, all in the informal atmosphere of Walcot House,
which has a bar.
10 Let’s get back in the room together! The Bath Festival gives us the chance to share the experience
of live events, to enjoy being part of the laughter or applause or chat with other people about what you’ve
heard or seen. Come with your partner, come with a friend, or come on your own.
For tickets visit thebathfestival.org.uk or tel: 01225 463362.