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Boat-loads of fun: Bristol Harbour Festival unveils final music acts and new-for-2024 Festival Fringe experiences

Bristol’s renowned boat, Thekla, is set to host live music, a DJ set from Bristol legend Jayde Adams and iconic silent disco on its three stages

05/07/2024

 Get on board for the Bristol Harbour Festival as the countdown continues to its return, from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July. This year’s festival promises three days of continuous entertainment across six performance areas. Today, the Bristol Harbour Festival team has announced Thekla as the final official music venue, alongside an array of unique Fringe venues spread throughout the city centre – including a DJ set from Bristol legend Jayde Adams on board Thekla.  

The newly announced artists and venues will join an impressive lineup of Bristol royalty. Eva Lazarus will bring her larger-than-life vocals to the Amphitheatre, alongside dancehall and bass legend Grove. Fresh from their performances at Glastonbury 2024, they’ll also join indie-pop singer-songwriter Gabriel Templar, named ‘songwriter of the year’, and The Beatles Dub Club, offering a unique DJ set like no other celebrating The Fab Four. 

Celebrating her 40th year in Bristol Harbour, Thekla regularly hosts international touring acts as well as grassroots artists, but for Bristol Harbour Festival weekend it’s all about local musicians. For 2024, the music will extend onto dry land, with up-and-coming bands performing on the Dockside Stage. Headlining Saturday night is Piratitude, a costume-clad, shanty-singing folk-rock band that has been captivating audiences since 2019. Their pirate-themed performances are set to rock the boat and entertain the crowds.  

After the main festival entertainment comes to a close, Bristol comedian, actress, writer and opera singer, Jayde Adams will take to the decks on board the iconic vessel for its most popular weekly club night, which has been running for 15 years, Pop Confessional. DJing alongside The Beatles Dub Club’s Chris Arnold, Jayde will drop the very best in pop, chart, R&B and guilty pleasures all night long. This after party event will be strictly 18+ and paid entry.  

On Sunday night, as part of the main Festival programming, the 789s will take to the stage, delivering singalong covers of the biggest hits with an indie-rock flair. Other artists in Thekla’s Dockside Stage lineup include the alt-rock band Belishas and the Americana outfit Hicktown Breakout. 

Festival-goers can also experience the Cargo Hold stage aboard Thekla, with performances by Bath-based band Sober Sundays, post-punk group Dreamwave and experimental electronic artist Sonnotto. Thekla’s signature top-deck silent disco will also keep Bristol dancing all day and night on Saturday. 

Councillor Tony Dyer, Leader of Bristol City Council, said:

“This is a significant year for the Bristol Harbour Festival as we bring back more of the core programme with the return of dance and spoken word. It’s also a big year for Thekla as she celebrates 40 years in the harbour! Thekla’s presence at the festival is always a pleasure as it embodies the spirit of our vibrant maritime heritage and adds a unique cultural touch to the festival. We look forward to continuing the 40th celebrations with them.”

Vicky Lee, Director of Bristol City Centre BID, and Steve Bluff, Director of Redcliffe and Temple BID, added:

“The Bristol Harbour Festival presents a significant boost to our local economy, offering an excellent opportunity for businesses to engage with the community. With the introduction of the 2024 Fringe Programme, the festival’s reach extends even further, allowing more businesses to participate and benefit. Bristol’s renowned independence and vibrancy shine through venues like The Christmas Steps, Death Disco and The Glassboat supporting the event. This year’s festival promises to be a standout edition of the city’s largest free celebration.”

In addition to Thekla’s diverse lineup, the 2024 festival marks the debut of the Bristol Harbour Festival Fringe Festival, extending the celebration beyond the main stages. Expect hidden gems across the city centre hosting local performers and artists with live music, day parties and short film screenings.  

Fringe venues include city icons such as The Christmas Steps Pub, which will feature its annual ‘Banoffee Pies’ showcase with music, BBQ and drinks. The Glassboat will host free live music with duo Sing & Tonic on Friday evening, followed by gin tasting sessions with the expert connoisseurs at 6 O’Clock Gin every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. Death Disco, an underground club adorned with disco balls and serving frozen margaritas, will heat up the scene with a host of DJs just a stone’s throw away from the festival’s main spots. 

Setting festival-goers up for the day will be Coffee Club, who will have Bristol easing into each morning with soft acoustic sounds, smooth brews and classic Bristol views in their Spike Island shipping container coffee shop. Taking place on Saturday 20 July at the Bristol Aquarium Megascreen is Blue Moon; a short film premier event by filmmaker portfolio and team-forming platform, Tabb. No.1 Harbourside will offer the perfect place to dance until dawn, with the Zu Zu Men providing the ultimate late night soundtrack to wrap up Saturday night.   

For more information on the Bristol Harbour Festival, head to the website for all the latest line-up and performance information, and follow the event on Facebook, Instagram and X. Fringe events will range from free to ticketed events, and all the information can be found on the Bristol Harbour Festival website.  

To support this year’s festival, there’s the option to make a donation – and all funds will go directly into the artist programming for 2024. For those who simply can’t wait for their Harbour Festival dose, they can also access the official Bristol Harbour Festival playlist on Spotify 

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