In May, the Bath Festival will bring the whole city to life in a colourful celebration of music, spoken word and literature.
The annual event, which has been running more than 70 years, offers up a diverse programme of hundreds of performances across the city over 10 days, from Friday 17th May to Sunday 26th May. It will then end in a giant finale weekend of live music starring Van Morrison at Bath Recreation Ground on Saturday, 1st June and Sunday, 2nd June.
Here, we take a look at some of the highlights of the forthcoming 2019 Bath Festival to pop in your diary for a May city break in Bath.
All Panda Sanctuaries’ Bath holiday homes are within an easy 15-minute walk of the city centre, where all the live shows take place.
Diary dates for the Bath Festival 2019:
Friday 17th May
Party in the City, venues across Bath city centre
Bath’s largest arts event, the Bath Festival kicks off with a night of free entertainment which will see more than 2000 performers entertain at more than 30 venues across the city and three outdoor stages. Music will pour out of Bath’s historic venues, churches and museums, pubs, clubs and businesses getting everyone in the mood for a party.
Friday night is music night: The magic of musicals, 7.30pm at The Forum
BBC Radio 2’s popular show will see Bramwell Tovey conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra for evening of greatest hits from the world of musical theatre. Special guests Ben Forster and Hannah Waddingham will join for the selection of show tunes from the pens of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Herman, Lerner and Loewe, Frank Loesser, Stephen Sondheim and more.
Saturday, 18th May
Jo Brand, Born Lippy at 11am at The Forum
In her latest show Born Lippy, comedian and presenter Jo Brand discusses the things she wishes she’d known in the past, the things she has learnt and her hopes for the future. She will be talking to TV presenter Francesca Beauman.
Dame Darcy Bussell, 12.30pm at The Assembly Rooms
Prima ballerina turned Strictly Come Dancing judge, Dame Darcy Bussell will talk about her fascinating career and her new book Evolved. Published to coincide with The Royal Ballet star’s 50th birthday, the book is filled with unseen photos, behind the scenes stories and personal anecdotes. This special event will be chaired by documentary maker and writer Marion Milne.
An evening with Sir Michael Parkinson, 7.30pm at The Forum
Join legendary television interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson in conversation with his son discussing highlights of more than 2000 interviews with some of the most prestigious figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. Sir Michael will offer a unique insight into his journey from a Yorkshire pit village to prime time TV, quizzing stars from politics and showbiz. There will be a book signing after this event.
Sunday, 19th May
Matt Haig: Notes on a Nervous Planet, 7.45pm at The Assembly Rooms
Hit author Matt Haig discusses his latest book which tackles many of the questions and worries that plague so many people in contemporary society. He will talk about managing the stress and anxiety in a fast paced world and how to protect our humanity in a tech-driven age, among other issues, in an insightful and positive conversation.
Lankum, 7.30pm at Komedia
One of the most talked about bands to come out of Ireland for many years, this Dublin four piece combine beautiful vocal harmonies with uilleann pipes, concertina, accordion, fiddle and guitar. Their lively instrumentals and narratives, taking inspiration from a rich variety of musical sources, result in a captivating performance. Lankum will be supported by guitar and banjo player Gwenifer Raymond.
Tuesday, 21st May
Pam Ayres, 3pm at The Assembly Rooms
Poet and doyenne of broadcast comedy shows, Pam Ayres talks to TV presenter Paul Blezard about her life, loves, poetry and colourful career. As a well known writer and entertainer for more than 40 years, Pam Ayres has been listed in the Sunday Times best-seller list almost every decade since the 1970s and appeared on countless radio shows including Just a Minute and Ayres On The Air.
Mariella Frostrup: Wild Woman, 5pm at The Assembly Rooms
Journalist and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup talks about her latest book Wild Women, a collection of the greatest women’s travel writing, from the 1700s to the present day featuring incredible female pioneers. Mariella will be joined on stage by journalist and author Bella Pollen and author, journalist and adventurer, Lois Pryce for a discussion that can be enjoyed by active and armchair travellers alike.
Wednesday, 22nd May
Isata Kanneh Mason, 12pm at St Swithun’s Church
At just 22, Isata is the oldest member of the hugely talented Kanneh Mason family, whose seven children play a broad range of instruments. In this intimate setting, Isata will perform the first of two concerts celebrating the music of Robert Schumann’s wife Clara. Clara’s piano sonata will be perfectly complemented by the beautiful Nocturnes by her contemporary Frédéric Chopin.
Thursday, 23rd May
Benjamin Baker, violin, 12pm at St Swithun’s Church
In this entrancing violin recital, acclaimed violinist Benjamin Baker will combine the grandeur of Beethoven with the impassioned romanticism of Schumann. This is a rare opportunity to hear Baker’s music in a calm and intimate setting away from his orchestral performances with companies such as The Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra.
Concert for the people of Bath, 7.30pm at The Forum
Thursday evening marks the return of this wonderful annual concert, held in memory of Brian and Margaret Roper, to foster and showcase the country’s best young musical talent. This year will see two BBC Young Musician finalists, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Jess Gillam, wow audiences in Bath with Clara Schumann’s piano concerto and a Saxophone Concerto by film score composer John Williams, respectively. The evening will be concluded Ravel’s blazing Bolero.
Friday, 24th May
Nicholas Parsons: Just a Laugh a Minute, 2pm at The Assembly Rooms
Just a Minute chairman Nicholas Parsons talks about his colourful career in show business as an actor, broadcaster, author and all-round entertainer. The Radio 4 legend, who has been presenting comedy panel show Just a Minute since 1967, is able to highlight the hilarity of every situation, making this a show a genuine laugh a minute.
Melvyn Bragg, 6pm at The Assembly Rooms
The award-winning author and broadcaster has rewritten the classic romantic tale of Heloise and Abelard for a modern audience in his new book, Love Without End. The presenter of In Our Time talks to Caroline Sanderson about the novel and its theme of enduring but forbidden love and passion.
Saturday, 25th May
Piotr Anderszewski, piano, 2pm at The Assembly Rooms
Internationally acclaimed pianist Piotr Anderszewski’s performances of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations have been renowned worldwide for 25 years as a music-making phenomenon. The Diabelli are among the most testing pieces a solo pianist can take on making them incredibly exciting to hear live. Piotr will also play Bach’s 6 Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier.
Chineke! 7.30pm at The Forum
Europe’s first black and ethnic minority led professional orchestra, Chineke! have been wowing audiences ever since their hit debut performances at the 2017 Proms. Bath will be no exception as the orchestra presents a programme designed to delight the ears while ‘championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’ with much loved pieces such as Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin and songs from Porgy and Bess.
Sunday, 26th May
Firefolk 2019, 6pm in Parade Gardens
Head to Parade Gardens to enjoy an evening of fantastic live music from talented local folk bands including BBC Folk Award Nominees The Drystones, acclaimed mercurial jazz-folk-rock fusionist SINNOBER and Celtic music specialists, The Striking Clock, among others. Enjoy foot stamping energetic melodies and great food and drink all in beautiful green surroundings in the centre of Bath.
Apparat, 8pm at Komedia
The Berlin-based DJ fuses electronic music with upbeat pop melodies. Having started out producing dancefloor techno, he has since moved towards more ambient music. This year has seen the release of his fifth album, LP5, his first release since 2013 so expect lots of new tracks. The line-up will include fellow Berlin electronic music artist Dataline, who loves to improvise and mess around with electronic sound to create immersive, trippy and emotional grooves.
Saturday, 1st June – Sunday, 22nd June
Bath Festival Finale Weekend, 1pm onwards, Bath Recreation Ground
This weekend extravaganza of music and fun returns after the success of last year’s inaugural finale event, with Van Morrison and Clean Bandit heading up the fantastic line up for 2019. Bath Rec will play host to a range brilliant bands and solo artists performing across two stages, a spoken word stage and a dedicated family fun zone offering workshops, craft demos and storytelling. Fabulous food and drink will be available throughout the weekend, all taking place right in the heart of the city.
This is just a taster of the wonderful events taking place in Bath throughout the festival so come and visit our fair city and immerse yourself in music and literature.