You are cordially invited to attend the opening night of the 2017 Bath Festival as the free Party in the City prepares to bring live music to the streets and venues in time honoured tradition

Dig out your dancing shoes, pin back your listening ears and choose appropriate British summer clothing as hundreds of performers prepare to take to the streets of Bath for the free Party in the City, which kicks off at 6pm on Friday 19 May and marks the opening of this year’s Bath Festival.

This year, for the first time in many years, a lot of action will take place in Alfred Street near the Fashion Museum, where three marquees will be set up with 15 performances taking place during the evening. Expect school choirs and bands, some rhythm and blues from the Harlem Rhythm Cats and covers from The Bourbons. There’ll be art, street theatre and the chance to eat and drink at Woods, the Boston Tea Party and The Assembly Inn.

A few drum beats away in Milsom Street, the carnival comes to town with costume making workshops and parades from old favourites Jamma De Samba, along with Horning Glory, an eight-piece playing popular songs in a brassed up New Orleans style.

Stroll along to Queen Square where the festival spirit will be alive and throbbing to the sound of up and coming bands introduced by Moles. Headliners include Michael Eavis favourites Sleeptalking, an alt rock band and Bare Knuckle Parade, a fantastically energetic band who honed their entertainment skills busking on the streets of Bath. There’ll be food and drink stalls, making this a great place to meet friends.

For those who prefer their music while seated, Bath Abbey as always, offers some great sounds, beginning with a choir of local schoolchildren who’ve worked with composer Richard Barnard and artist Edwina Bridgeman to create a festival opener. Other performances include The City of Bath Male Choir who appeared on the BBC’s Last Choir Standing.

There’ll be music of all kinds at venues across the city centre. Perhaps you’d like to soak up the atmosphere of the historic Roman Baths to the brass sound of the Bath Spa Band or the Lambeth Swing Band, or check out Bath’s newest venue Widcombe Social Club where a host of choirs will be raising the rafters.

There’ll be music where you might expect it – at St Swithin’s Church in Walcot, St Michael’s Without in Broad Street, St James’ Wine Vaults and the Pig and Fiddle (where fans will be delighted to find Rivers of England playing). But there will also be music in places you might not expect, including the Museum Of Bath Architecture in the Paragon, the chapel at the Gainsborough Hotel, Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Museum in Queen Square and the Friends Meeting House in York Street.

You might want to head down to Southgate where a number of live acts will be staged, kicking off with former Pan’s People dancer Dee Dee Wilde leading her latest dance troupe Pan’s Fans.

As this is a night of free entertainment you could venture into venues you haven’t been to before and this is a good chance to sample their ambience. Komedia in Westgate Street is putting on nine acts throughout the evening, including the fabulous sounding The Blues Others who’ll be proving they’ve got ‘both kinds of music’ as they roll out some crackers including Soul Man, Gimme Some Lovin’ and Rawhide. Or how about sampling the hospitality at uber cool venue The Nest on the Paragon, to hear from indie band Little Wonder, some upbeat jazzy pop from The Rosa Gray Band and a dash of rock and roll with a slice of soul courtesy of Pink Hotel.

Age is no barrier for this party, so let’s turn out in our droves to enjoy all these free Party in the City events.

If you want to buy tickets for the rest of The Bath Festival which runs from Friday 19 May to Sunday 28 May, visit: thebathfestival.org.uk or buy in person at Bath Box Office from 10.30am to 5pm. You can also reserve tickets on tel: 01225 463362. Gift vouchers for The Bath Festival can also be purchased at Bath Box Office, by telephone and online. Please use #TheBathFestival and @bathfestivals in social media.

NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR FESTIVAL

The Bath Magazine is already proud to be media partner to the new-look Bath Festival. It’s been joined by The Bath Business Improvement District (BID) as a strategic corporate partner of the new all encompasssing music and literature festival. This year’s festival programme is designed to appeal to a wider audience, build visitor numbers and remind the world that Bath remains a destination for culture. These aspirations are shared with Bath BID, which represents many businesses in the city.

Bath BID member businesses will have the opportunity to get involved individually, as well as benefitting from umbrella Bath BID sponsorship. Benefits include marketing and branding, 10% off ticket sales for their staff, hospitality opportunities, including the chance to host events in Marks and Spencer and Jollys. A number of Bath BID businesses involved include Waterstones, Jollys, The Abbey Hotel, Number 15 Great Pulteney and the Gainsborough Hotel. A discounted corporate package of £3.5k is available to all Bath BID members. Call Celia Mead on 01225 462231 or email: Celia.Mead@bathfestivals.org.uk.

Other strategic partners of The Bath Festival include Wessex Water, Rotork, UBS with Bath Spa University as creative partner. Festival highlights include: an event with Mary Berry; Sir Salman Rushdie (his only appearance outside Paris and London); Costa award-winner Sebastian Barry; politician and Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls and New York acappella band Naturally 7 (championed by Coldplay and Michael Bublé).

There will also be events with India Knight; Charley Boorman; Madeleine Shaw; Dan Pearson; Simon Callow and numerous literary and musical giants including Colm Tóibín; Margaret Drabble and Fay Weldon; Ali Smith; Harriet Harman; Victoria Hislop and Georgie Fame.

Look out too for events suitable for children. Children’s entertainer Kid Carpet will be staging one of his hilarious interactive shows with four performances at The egg theatre. There’s also a free family arts day on Sunday 28 May in Parade Gardens with a musical theme and everyone is encouraged to join in.