Bristol Harbour Festival
The Bristol Harbour Festival is an annual event held in the centre of the city of Bristol in England, which in 2015 is being held from 17th - 19th July 2014. This page aims to give a rough outline of the event, along with links for more information.
The Bristol harbour festival started in 1971 with events associated with the historic harbourside at it's heart. Originally the harbour festival was a strongly maritime event tied inextricably to the docks, but as time has progressed additional events have been added which occur in the surrounding streets.
The centre of Bristol, particularly the docks has played a very important part in history of not only England but the world. Bristol is perhaps most famous nowadays for being a key part of the slave trade, but Bristol's continent occurred before this. Over 500 years ago John Cabot, on his ship The Matthew, set off to find a shorter route to East Asia from Bristol, but got interrupted by Newfoundland. In doing so he was the first person to discover North America, and so to commemomorate the 500th anniversary a replica of The Matthew was constructed, and after replicating the journey of 500 years previously, now sits in Bristol. Even after the abolition of slavery Bristol continued to be an important trading city. In 1843 Brunel launched a ship from Bristol which was at the time the largest ship afloat, and was also the first boat of any considerable size to combine an iron hull and screw propeller. This boat was the SS Great Britain, and now sits in the dry dock where she was first built.
The festival today
Whilst the festival still contains a very strong maritime theme, it has also grown to include many events which are in no way linked to boats. However boats are still the main draw for many, with a wide variety of boats being shown, some of which have travelled a very long way to be at the festival. Some of these boats are shown in the Youtube video. Generally though there is at least one boat from the UK armed forces and sometimes visiting armed forces. In addition a number of tall ships also turn up, along with The Matthew which is based within the docks. It is not uncommon for round the world racing yachts to also turn up. These flagship boats are generally accompanied by a flotilla of smaller boats, numbering in the hundreds.
In addition to the maritime events there are events which occur on dry land. A large stage is put up in Bristol's Events Square and live music is played throughout the days of the event. There are performances on this stage of dancing and circus skills. The streets around the harbourside are pedestrianised for the Bristol harbour festival, with various stall being set up, along with street performances. Finally on the Saturday evening there is a large fireworks display, with some of the fireworks being fired off of the buildings surrounding the docks and some actually being launched off of the boats in the water.
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- Bristol balloon fiesta
This is a hub on the other major summer event to happen in Bristol - the balloon fiesta. In 2009 this is happening on the weekend following the Bristol harbour festival and is expected to attract over half a million visitors.
- Bristol Harbour Festival Wikipedia Page
This page contains some information on the festival, along with a list of highlights from 2008.
- Bristol Harbour Festival Official Site
This is the official website of the harbour festival. It contains five primary sections relating to music, dance, circus, ships and fireworks along with photographs of previous years events.
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