Bristol’s free flagship event, the Bristol Harbour Festival, returns to the city on the 20th to 22nd July with a programme packed with great family and maritime activities, music, circus, displays, food and vintage markets and, of course, plenty of tall ships and visiting vessels.

The city’s historic Floating Harbour will once again be at the centre of the weekend for a celebration of Bristol, putting on an incredible show rich with free family-friendly activity.

From Underfall Yard on the western edge of the Floating Harbour all the way to the Cascade Steps and Queen Square, the streets will be alive with entertainment.

Everywhere you look in the 2018 festival programme there are standout events, highlights include the opening Friday night concert on the Bristol Music Stage at the Amphitheatre featuring Jimmy Cliff, Grandmaster Flash and Trojan Records, and plenty of activities for you to get involved in including the Circus Playground and Bristol Dances areas.

On the water, Bristol will host the inaugural Power8 Sprints, a new and exciting rowing event from British Rowing. The brand new event will unfold over 350m of the city’s Harbourside as crews made up of top rowers from across the country represent cities in teams of eights. Combining technical skill, raw power and high-octane rowing, this will be on sporting spectacle not to miss.

Elsewhere on the water, the festival welcomes back the spectacular tall ships, the Etoile Molene, Irene and Iris, sailing their way into the floating harbour joined by many other vessels  to make up the festival fleet. Festival goers can even win a boat made by Bristol’s inter-generational boat building project run by All Aboard and funded by Bristol Aging Better.

The festival’s music heart, Bristol Music Stage at the Amphitheatre, will showcase local acts performing a wide range of styles and sounds. Don’t miss the opportunity to see over 400 talented local musicians and performers deliver seven decades of Bristol sounds. Highlights include The Bristol Reggae Orchestra, Yola Carter, Black Roots and a special tribute to the great days of the tiny Troubadour Folk Club in Clifton featuring a trio of ‘Troub’ stars still performing some 50 years later.

Circus will again feature heavily in the weekend’s activities as this year marks a UK wide celebration of 250 years of Circus. The circus playground will both entertain and stun the crowds with ever-popular acts such as a solo performer Amelia Cavallo, a blind aerialist and musician working with Bristol based integrated circus company Extraordinary Bodies.

Bristol based dancers will dazzle the ground with area performances and workshops, from Baby ballet, Bollywood to African dance.  An ever popular range of workshops will be offered alongside a whole sensory play area for children and young people with brought to you in partnership by Bristol City Council, WECIL and Sense.

For those after a relaxed and thought provoking atmosphere the Spoken Word area in Cathedral Walk will be the go to place. Performers of note on this year’s billing include Bristol’s City Poet Vanessa Kisuule, Bristol’s first City Poet, Miles Chambers and World Poetry Slam finalist Toby Champion.

Vanessa said: “Bristol’s maritime heritage reveals something about the city’s character that bricks and mortar alone cannot show. This is a place of contrasts and divides as well as boundless opportunity. The Harbour Festival promises to be a remarkable display of everything there is to love about this city.”