David Olusoga, Maggie O’ Farrell and Nikesh Shukla are some of the authors on the line-up for the Bath Festival, curated by artistic directors Alex Clark, David Jones and James Waters for its 70th anniversary year.
The multi-arts festival is taking place from 11th to 27th May and will offer more than 180 events over an extended period of 17 days, bringing leading writers, musicians and cultural figures to Bath.
Olusoga will talk about his award-winning book Black and British: A Forgotten History and O’ Farrell will be discussing attitudes to death, a topic explored in her British Book Awards-shortlisted memoir I Am, I Am, I Am in 17 near-death experiences. Other headline writers at the festival include: novelist and biographer Margaret Drabble; Robert Webb, comedian and author of How Not to Be a Boy, also up for a British Book Award; Kate Mosse, who this year publishes the first in a new historical epic; editor at Sky News Afua Hirsch; British climber Chris Bonington; politician Andrew Adonis; musician Professor Green; and Great British Bake Off finalist Ruby Tandoh.
Contemporary fiction, science, history, politics and poetry will intermingle with well-known rock and pop bands as well as classical, jazz and folk music, according to the festival's organisers, as concerts, discussions, collaborations and a host of free events take place across the city. Among a host of artists mixing words and music, Rose Tremain features on the roster to talk about Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life with Alex Clark plus musical accompaniment and Roddy Doyle will read from his new book, Smile, accompanied by jazz guitarist Hugh Buckley, the author’s friend and former schoolmate.
Musicians joining in the festivities include Tears for Fears and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who will play during the festival finale weekend (26th and 27th May) on Bath Recreation Ground, as well as 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. Bath’s biggest night of free music, Party in the City, will meanwhile take place on the festival’s second weekend on Friday 18th May.
This year sees the launch of SparkFest, an innovative programme of theatre, music and dance, curated and created by "the stars of tomorrow" in partnership with Bath Spa University. The festival has also teamed up with Twerton Park, the home of Bath City FC, for a day of "football fun for all the family"; with FilmBath to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage with film, literature, politics, music and comedy; and with the School of Advanced Study at the University of London to immerse the audience in the world of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The festival will showcase creative work done by young people too as part of Bath Festivals’ Creative Learning programme and their ongoing partnership with Paper Nations, with the display of stories and poems by children across the city.
John Cullum DL, chair of Bath Festivals, said of the programme - the festival's largest to date - that it would offer something "for everyone".
“We are thrilled to bring you our largest programme of events to-date in our 70th anniversary year," he said. "The diverse range of events on offer will stimulate, uplift, delight and most importantly entertain the people of Bath and beyond. This year’s 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 finale weekend on the Rec will create a festival buzz like never before, demonstrating our commitment to creating a festival for all.
"Our aim is to bring the city alive through the arts, reinforcing Bath’s rich history and reputation as a cultural destination. This is a festival for everyone, regardless of personal interests and age. It’s a chance to dip your toe into something new as well as seeing your favourites on your doorstep."
The full programme is available at thebathfestival.org.uk.
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