Bristol Harbour Festival launches 50th anniversary ‘Ebb and Flow’ community programme

Introducing Ebb and Flow to celebrate the festival's 50th anniversary

Bristol Harbour Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary on 15 – 17 July with an inclusive programme showcasing community collaborations and emerging and established creative voices.

The theme ‘Ebb and Flow’ will mark the 50th year of the festival, looking at the changing face of the city and the transformation of the harbour over the last half a century. This year’s festival aims to further its engagement with the diverse range of communities that call Bristol home and champion these groups throughout the event. 

The Bristol Harbour Festival celebrates with all the communities of Bristol, the heart and soul of the city, in the unique setting of its harbour – and this year will see artists work with communities and partners to reflect the ebb and flow of the people of Bristol. Through installations around the harbour, this project will create a performative and interactive trail reflecting Bristol’s diverse communities. 

Highlights from the programme include:

Bristol homelessness and housing charities Caring in Bristol & CHAS will be working with artist Rachael Clerke to recognise the thousands of Bristolians who live in precarious housing situations (such as homelessness, at risk of homelessness, in temporary accommodation or being evicted). The interactive space will invite people to take part in an awards ceremony like no other, celebrating housing achievements big and small on a specially designed podium. The installation has been developed collaboratively with the communities in which Caring in Bristol’s & CHAS Early Doors partnership works. The interactive space will take place close to the SS Great Britain during the Festival, with the Early Doors team on hand to share their expertise on this theme.

Bristol Older People’s Forum will be collaborating with poet Malaika Kegode to create a collaborative poem to be displayed around the harbour. 

Bristol Refugee Festival will work with a visual artist to create interpretations responding to the festival theme, Ebb and Flow. 

A group of young people from The West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL) will be working with celebrated sound designer and composer Dom Coyote to create a space at the festival to encourage people to take a break and rest. WECIL is a charity run by and for Disabled people in Bristol and the surrounding area. The groups are currently collaborating on an immersive sound experience to be enjoyed at the festival. 

Bristol School of Acting will be creating small walkabout performances that will pop up throughout the festival, exploring the theme of Ebb and Flow. 

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “This is a very special year for Bristol Harbour Festival – not only are we celebrating its 50th anniversary, but it is also the first to take place since the start of the pandemic. Since 1971, communities from across Bristol have celebrated the special setting of the harbour and docks. Five decades on, our city’s diverse and creative talent comes together for one of the biggest outdoor family events of the year.” 

Bristol Harbour Festival is the largest free arts festival in the southwest and one of the biggest in the country. The Ebb and Flow project is supported by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council. 

Details of timings and locations of the Ebb and Flow interventions will be available on the Bristol Harbour Festival website alongside a full programme of music, dance, circus, and performance. 

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