Invitation to the Bath party

BATH’S biggest free party is back, with the free opening celebrations of this year’s Bath Festival, on Friday 13th May from 5pm.

After two years’ Covid-enforced absence, the festival organisers are delighted to invite the crowds back for a massive colourful party, taking over venues across the city. Whatever your taste in music, whether it be the pure tones of an acapella choir filling an ancient church, cool jazz in a courtyard, a singer-songwriter performing in your favourite pub, or a rock’n’roll boogie in the park, there will be something for you.

Free Party in the City leaflets have all the venues, acts and times, or you can download a Pixie app with all the information for the opening night and the whole festival.

The 30 venues for Party in the City include the Assembly Rooms, Bath Pizza Co in Green Park Station, Komedia, the Holburne Museum, Christ Church in Julian Road, The Pig and Fiddle, St James’ Wine Vaults, Widcombe Social Club and Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institution. There will be music outdoors on the bandstand in Parade Gardens and on stage in Queen Square at Bath Festival Hub.

The Festival Hub is a great place to go over the opening weekend, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May. Between 11am and 3pm on both days families can join in with hands-on activities, get creative with clay and wildflowers, taking inspiration from gardens and nature. On Sunday, from 11am until 2pm little ones will be entertained with music making and storytelling with Polly Tisdall. There will be music from members of Bath Festival Orchestra and a smartphone trail that starts from the obelisk in Queen Square and leads you on a Test Tubes and Time Travel adventure devised by Kilter Theatre and students from the University of Bath. There is also a tent to shelter from the weather and food and drink traders offering everything from coffee and cake to beer and pizza.

The huge range of local performers includes The Bathford Singers, Jonny Melancholy and the Sad Cowboys, singer-songwriter Ben Hutcheson, Jerrome Recorders, Bill Smarme with his Rock’nRoll Trio, The Red Bandits, Barry and the Fridge Mechanics and Schools Voices, a choir made up of 100 local secondary school students, making its debut. A group of young carers will showcase the music they’ve created on a much-needed break from their family commitments, working with Bath Philharmonia.

Hghlights of the main festival include chamber choir The Tallis Scholars, music group Public Service Broadcasting, comedians Phil Wang, Rachel Parris, Isy Suttie and Marcus Brigstocke, writers Ali Smith, and Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, Bath Festival Orchestra and Bath Philharmonia, folk singer Karine Polwart, saxophonist Jess Gillam, journalists and broadcasters Martin Bell and Justin Webb, journalist and campaigner George Monbiot, scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford and historian and television presenter David Olusoga.

Following the pandemic lockdowns, Bath Festival has emerged with a strong focus on the importance of live arts events. And Party in the City is the ideal starter to whet your appetite for the 130 plus events to come. For the full programme, visit