Starry lineup for Bath Festival

THE full programme for this year’s 70th anniversary Bath Festival is now available, and general booking opens on 5th March. The choice is so wide that there really is something for all tastes – from Northumbrian folk virtuoso Kathryn Tickell to Great British Bake Off star and food writer Ruby Tandoh, from comedian and memoirist Robert Webb to Ghanaian-British historian Afua Hirsch, from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Americana star Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The festival runs from Friday 11th to Sunday 27th May, at venues in and around the city, including a new partnership with Wiltshire Music Centre at Bradford-on-Avon.

The multi-arts festival has more than 180 events over an extended period of 17 days, bringing some of the world’s leading writers and cultural figures, rock and pop bands as well as classical, jazz and folk musicians, contemporary fiction, intelligent debate, science, history, politics and poetry, with concerts, discussions and collaborations and many free events across the city.

Artistic directors Alex Clark, David Jones and James Waters have created a programme which invites audiences to enjoy performances, exchange ideas, enable discussions and stop the world for a moment to listen to one another.

The full programme can be viewed online at

Tasters of what’s in store:

Literature, including fiction, food-writing, history, memoirs, travel and politics –  David Olusoga; Professor Green; Maggie O’ Farrell; Chris Bonington; Andrew Adonis; Claire Tomalin; Margaret Drabble; Kate Mosse; Ruby Tandoh; Maggie O’Farrell; Robert Webb; Rose Tremain; Afua Hirsch and Nikesh Shukla

Music: Amanda Palmer; Ben Folds; Kathryn Tickell; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Stephen Hough; Roderick Williams; Lars Vogt and the Royal Northern Sinfonia; Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Catriona Morrison.

The festival finale weekend (26th and 27th May) has a stellar line-up including Tears for Fears, Robert Plant, Imelda May, Alison Moyet, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Midge Ure and Seth Lakeman plus poets, roaming performers, children’s activities and more. Bath’s biggest night of free music, Party in the City, will break from the usual opening night tradition to take place on the second weekend, on Friday 18th May.

This year sees the launch of SparkFest, a partnership with Bath Spa University creating an innovative programme of theatre, music and dance, curated and created by the stars of tomorrow.

Other partnerships this year are with Twerton Park, the home of Bath City FC, for a day of football fun for all the family; FilmBath to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage with film, literature, politics, music and comedy; and the School of Advanced Study at the University of London for a multisensory evening of Living Literature to immerse the audience in the world of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

This year’s Party in the City school commission in the Abbey is Festival Spirits, which starts with a song recital by soprano Elizabeth Karani, who will then be disrupted by some mischievous children performing their own song and representing characters from past and future festivals.

Working with Wiltshire Music Centre, a remarkable set of forces has been assembled for a concert performance of West Side Story, in this Leonard Bernstein centenary year. The performance builds on a large scale schools’ project designed around the timeless themes of the musical.

Festival chairman John Cullum says: “We are thrilled to bring you our largest programme of events to date in our 70th anniversary year. The festival includes critically acclaimed authors and musicians, international artists and emerging talent from the world stage, as well as performances by local bands, community groups and schools.

“Our aim is to bring the city alive through the arts, reinforcing Bath’s rich history and reputation as a cultural destination. It’s a chance to dip your toe into something new as well as seeing your favourites on your doorstep.”

Pictured: Kathryn Tickell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Afua Hirsch, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Ruby Tandoh.