Upfest 2020: Festival returning with new date and venue

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One of the major festivals in Bristol’s summer calendar is being moved earlier and expanded radically, organisers have announced.

The urban paint festival Upfest will take place in May next year, rather than at the end of June, and the creation of a new wave of street art across south Bristol will take place over the course of the two weeks ahead of the weekend event.

That’s not the only major change to the event, which took a semi-fallow year in 2019.

The festival part of Upfest will be staged in the large Greville Smyth Park, at the end of North Street, for the first time, which means it promises to be bigger than ever before.

Crowds flock to south Bristol during Upfest

Organisers said the changes will mean more people will get the chance to see the art being created – and spreading out the painting over two weeks will not only give the artists themselves more time to create their masterpieces on the festival’s showcase walls, but will also give a bit of breathing space to what has become a crowded and busy festival neighbourhood.

When is Upfest 2020?

The street painting on the festival’s dozens of feature walls – from the east side of Bedminster to Ashton Gate – will begin on Saturday, May 16 and last until Wednesday, May 27. That will give people a week and a half to see the artists at work, and then a few more days to see the completed work, ahead of the main event.

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The main event will be on the weekend of Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31, with the traditional final viewing day on Monday June 1.

Upfest has traditionally been staged at the end of July or in early August, and is usually crammed into three or four days around a weekend.

The 2018 festival was its 10th anniversary and in 2019, organisers held a ‘fallow year’, with no weekend event, but with a rolling programme of new art on many of the featured walls throughout the year.

This rolling Upfest 2019 programme saw the biggest wall, the side of the Tobacco Factory facing Aldi’s car park, repainted by Bristol artist Jody with a now iconic image of climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Where will Upfest 2020 be?

All the big walls that usually feature in Upfest are to be found in Bedminster, along North Street and further around towards Ashton Gate.

This year those walls will be the ones painted during the final two weeks of May.

The other part of Upfest is a festival which sees artists given individual large boards to paint, the main base for this was originally the Tobacco Factory market space, and then also in South Street Park in Bedminster.

Upfest 2018 is in full swing

That has grown and grown with artists from all over the world coming to paint during the festival. It grew into pub gardens, churchyards and, for the past couple of festivals, Ashton Gate Stadium.

For 2020, organisers said all the boards will be brought together in one place – Greville Smyth Park, the large park just off Ashton Road at the end of North Street.

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“The boards and canvases previously found across a multitude of south Bristol venues will be brought together for a final weekend-long celebration of street art in the spectacular park, the first time the space has been used for a festival,” said a spokesperson for Upfest.

 

“The street work traditionally painted during the festival weekend, will be created in the fortnight leading up to the festival weekend; giving more people the chance to witness these spectacular creations come to life first hand.

“The murals will be complete for viewing while over 250 artists paint live alongside music stages and food and drink experiences,” he added.

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