We all know that Bristol has its fair share of festivals, but the annual free Harbour Festival is the only one where it feels like everybody in the city comes together for a damn good knees-up, in a way that's really only possible here.
From a diverse bill of world-class musicians playing across multiple stages and loads of food and drink options for the adults, to vibrant dance and circus showcases and an enormous variety of kid-friendly activities, it's easy to see why this is many Bristolian's favourite weekend of the year.
Getting started at 6pm on Friday July 17 and running through the weekend across a two-mile stretch of the Waterfront including Castle Park and Queen Square, the main problem you'll have is working out what to see and where exactly to go. But fear not, we've rounded up some of the best happenings this Harbour Festival - read on for ten things we recommend you do not miss!
Desperate Men’s Balloon Toss (Bristol’s Biggest Tosser)
Street theatre specialists Desperate Men will be bringing the annual balloon toss to College Green this year. The aim of the game is to not get wet, so bring the best thrower you know and your waterproofs as they attempt to find ‘Bristol’s biggest tosser’.
Ferry Ride Trip
By far the best way to check out the whole of the site, pick up a Bristol Ferry at the various stops and float into the festival in style. If you buy a dayrider, you can pop over to ss Great Britain to see the BBC Bristol Music stage then head back to the Arnofini to get your spot for the evening show in the Amphitheatre.
Dawn Penn on Queen Square Stage
No, no, no - one of the reggae queens, Dawn Penn, will be performing in Queen Square this year, closing the stage on Sunday afternoon. Get ready to hear the whole city singing her hit reggae anthem “You Don’t Love Me”, which has been covered by Beyonce, Rihanna, Sean Paul and Lily Allen.
Trash Dollys bring their new performance ‘Cape Alley’ to the festival’s Dance Village. A blend of dance and theatre, these guys are a must-see in the Amphitheatre this year. You can also try your hand at some dance and bust a move in Millennium Square if you fancy.
Cascade Steps Stage
One of the most unique stages this year, get your dose of soulful tunes at the acoustic stage. Hosting a range of local talent, catch Bristol musicians David 9 Lucas, Ria Timkin, Katey Brooks and Meet Your Feet.
Queen Square market for lunch
This normally pops up just ahead of the festival itself and has a selection of fantastic goodies for lunch and a great selection of continental food vendors to pick up some supplies for dinner. Then, during the festival, you’ll be able to down a pint of Westons at the bar there, too.
The Jazz Quarter is the latest addition to the festival. Located at the Wapping Wharf Harbourside development, the fun kicks off at 12pm with lots to look forward to, including the Dam Busters 3 Piece and World Government closing the stage on Sunday.
Massive Battle Ships
Two teams, two sides of the harbour, two pairs of binoculars. Massive Battleships will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 1pm and 4pm from World of Happiness to The Ostrich, so get over there to sink a submarine - or a pint.
The Dukes of Mumbai at the Grain Barge
On Saturday night at 8.40pm at the Grain Barge, The Dukes of Mumbai will be performing a set of electric-garage-surf-pop and high energy instrumentals on the outdoor stage. It’s also just a short stroll over to the Lloyds building, where you can watch the late night projection mapping show!
Zero Degrees bars
Celebrate one of the longest standing micro-breweries in the city by sampling a beer or two, maybe even three, at one of the Zero Degrees’ bars. They're located all over the shop - grab a pint, find a spot on the harbour to dangle your legs and enjoy a long summer’s night.