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The Bath Festival – 17th – 26th May

The Bath Festival

is one of the highlights of the year here and is a great time to visit.

A diverse programme of more than 120 events over ten days in May (Friday 17 – Sunday 26 May). Among the stellar line-up are Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Darcey Bussell, Radio2’s drive time presenter Sara Cox, leading film critic Mark Kermode, Last Night at the Proms sensation Jess Gillam and the original people’s poet, Pam Ayres. Headlining the Festival Finale on Bath Recreation Ground over the weekend of 1 – 2 June, will be Grammy award winning British band Clean Bandit (Saturday night) and legendary singer-songwriter Van Morrison (Sunday night).

The first Friday evening of the Festival is taken up with Bath’s biggest night of free entertainment across the city and is an important part of The Bath Festival celebrations. The night includes more than 2,000 performers across 30+ venues and three outdoor arenas. It is Bath’s largest arts event and free for everyone to attend.

The Festival programme is hugely varied, highlights include:

  • Historian Kate Williams will talk about her book Rival Queens which explores the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.
  • Chineke! stormed the Proms in 2017 and now its Bath’s turn to enjoy the first professional orchestra in Europe to feature mainly black and minority ethnic musicians.
  • Ted Hughes poetry award winner and spoken word artist Hollie McNish will deliver her unique brand of raw and entertaining chat and readings.
  • In collaboration with The Fringe Festival, global sensation Apparat aka Sacsha Ring brings his unique electronics from Berlin to Bath.
  • Lankum, a four-piece Irish folk band who have been described as ‘a younger, darker Pogues’ (The Guardian).
  • Sir Michael Parkinson, one of the nation’s best loved chat show hosts, in conversation with his son Michael.
  • Penguin Cafe is a unique collaborative group of musicians who blur the boundaries between pop and classical music.
  • Jo Brand, feminist, comedian and broadcaster, on Born Lippy, will talk about life as a woman and what she wishes she knew when she was younger.
  • Mark Kermode and The Dodge Brothers. A double treat for festival-goers as the film critic talks about his memoir and then joins his band the Dodge Brothers for some foot-stomping songs about love, death and transport.
  • Austentatious. Back by popular demand is this comic improv troupe who discover a ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel to the delight of their audiences.
  • A Concert for the People of Bath, featuring Bath Philharmonia Orchestra with Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano, and Jess Gillam, saxopohone.

Literature lovers will want to visit the official bookseller for the Festival, Mr B’s Emporium Bookshop. All the books in the programme will be available from Mr B’s Festival Bookshop at The Assembly Rooms throughout the festival and there will be pop-up bookshops at every event but their newly expanded shop in John Street is also a pleasure to visit.

The Bath Festival Finale Weekend takes place on the Bath Recreation Ground in the heart of the city (home to Bath Rugby during the winter). The two-day event features family entertainment, three music stages and artisan food and drink made in Bath and the surrounding area. Not all the acts have been announced yet but they include Clean Bandit and Van Morrison.

Find the full programme for the Festival by clicking here.

Of course, if you book your tickets online and let us know, we will collect them and have them waiting for you at the apartment!

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