Bath Voice News: The Bath Festival returns from Friday 17 May – Sunday 26 May 2024 with Party in the City – a free concert in the park

THE BATH FESTIVAL 2024: Friday 17 May – Sunday 26 May, 2024

The Bath Festival, the city’s oldest and biggest arts festival, brings its annual celebration of books and music to our beautiful city this spring. The 2024 festival is a sparkling mix of inspirational speakers, consummate story tellers and music to lift the spirits and soothe the soul.

The Bath Festival 2024 will run from Friday 17 May to Sunday 26 May. Tickets go on general sale on Friday 22 March.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Festival literature highlights:

  • BBC World Affairs correspondent, news presenter and Mastermind host Clive Myrie will be in conversation with author Kit de Waal about his memoir Everything is Everything. Known for his reputation for fearless, objective reporting on some of the biggest stories of our time, most recently from the front lines in Ukraine, Clive will be talking about his career, his family history and how being Black has affected his perspective on the issues he’s encountered during his 30 years covering major global events. His life story is one of love and hate – but also hope.
  • Expect an electrifying performance from one of the powerhouses of British poetry, trailblazing poet and award-winning novelist Salena Godden, celebrating the launch of her audacious new collection, With Love, Grief and Fury. She will be bringing us poems that will nourish the soul, poems of fire and fury that will kick some ass, tell the truth and inspire change and hope.
  • Booker prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson comes to Bath to discuss his new novel, What Will Survive Of Us – an unforgettable love story about romance in later life, shot through with his trademark wit and humour. He will be talking to festival guest curator Joe Haddow, host of BBC Radio 2’s long-running Book Club.
  • Much-loved comedian Shaparak Khorsandi brings us a delicious mix of stand-up and excerpts from her new book Scatter Brain, as she looks back on her life through the lens of ADHD and finally makes sense of the chaos.
  • A chance to hear legendary environmentalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot. He has been fighting for a better future for our planet for decades and now takes on the ideology that controls our lives – to help us find a better alternative worth fighting for.
  • Journalist Rebecca Thomson, who broke the Post Office accounting scandal, will join a discussion panel, including Nick Wallis, author of the Great Post Office Scandal, and Post Office manager Nicholas Arch, to talk about this huge miscarriage of justice, and to update Bath Festival audiences on the latest developments.
  • Comedians and long-term friends, Sara Pascoe and Cariad Lloyd (co-hosts of the Weirdos Book Club podcast), celebrate the paperback publication of Sara’s hilarious, touching debut novel, Weirdo.
  • Dr Nighat Arif, resident doctor on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning, is on a mission to bring women’s health to the forefront. She talks to Pragya Agarwal (Hysterical). Bring your daughters, mothers, sisters and friends and join this informative and empowering conversation about the key stages in every woman’s life.
  • Come and explore the night sky with award-winning superstar space scientist and BBC The Sky at Night presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock as she shares her expertise and unique insights into the marvellous world of stars. 
  • Professor Bruce Hood runs the most popular course at Bristol University on the science of happiness. He will bring seven simple life-changing lessons to the festival to help us break our negative thought patterns and find happiness.
  • Journalist, author and political commentator Daniel Finkelstein joins bestselling author and broadcaster Simon Mayo to discuss Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad, his moving account of his parents’ experiences during the Second World War. Finkelstein’s mother, Mirjam, a friend of Anne Frank, was sent to Bergen-Belsen, aged ten, with her mother and sisters. His father Ludwik was deported, also aged ten, to Siberia and endured the horrors of the Soviet Gulag. Finkelstein’s account is a moving story of persecution, resistance and survival, told with the bravery of two ordinary families shining through.
  • Back by popular demand, world-leading art expert Will Gompertz takes us into the minds of artists – from contemporary stars to old masters – to show us how to look and experience the world. How can Rembrandt help us see ourselves? How can David Hockney help us to see nature? And how can Frida Kahlo help us see through pain? Find out in this engaging event which will open your eyes to the beauty around us. 
  • Julius Roberts is a first-generation farmer and restaurant-trained chef, on a mission to live a self-sufficient life on his family smallholding on the Dorset coast. He chats to friend, filmmaker and activist Jack Harries about his inspirational book, The Farm Table and the many benefits of learning to live seasonally, with and from the land.
  • Come and have fun at our unique Bath Festival events. There’s Murder in the Bookshop, a chance to try your hand at Murdle, the global mystery puzzle. Follow the clues, solve the puzzle and maybe win a prize! Join comedian Helen Lederer, for a riotously frank and funny evening with the Absolutely Fabulous star who was at the heart of the alternative comedy scene of the 1980s. And then there’s Litchwitchure, an intriguing event centred on conversations with friends, using tarot cards.
  • Singer, presenter and West End legend Michael Ball brings us hismagical memoir, Different Aspects taking us backstage and sharing anecdotes from his glittering career. There will be laughter, tears and an abundance of heart.
  • Other names to look out for: broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby will be in Bath on publication day of his book Endgame 1944, about the end of the Second World War, comedian Ruby Wax will be offering advice on staying sane in a chaotic world, author David Mitchell will be marking the 20th anniversary of his classic work, Cloud Atlas and folk singer Cara Dillon will be treating audiences to music and chat around her book, Coming Home.

Music festival highlights:

  • One of the world’s finest vocal ensembles, Stile Antico will be presenting a programme of Renaissance music, including Allegri’s Miserere, in the architectural splendour of Bath Abbey.
  • Exciting young pianist Fabian Müller will be putting on a spellbinding evening of Brahms’s Piano Sonata No3 in F Minor Op5 and Beethoven’s Appassionato sonata.
  • Music artist in residence, Grammy nominated guitarist Sean Shibe, has curated four concerts for The Bath Festival and will be playing at two. He joins the renowned Carducci Quartet for two guitar quintets and will be joining mezzo soprano Ema Nikolovska for a musical exploration of Virginia Woolf’s classic Orlando.
  • A rare chance to enjoy a screening of the 1922 silent film, Nosferatu, accompanied by live organ improvisation by award-winning organist Sebastian Heindl. This will be introduced by Sir Christopher Frayling, author of Vampire Cinema: The First One Hundred Years.
  • BBC Radio2 Young Folk award winner Brighde Chaimbeul, small pipes musician, will perform with Aidan O’Rourke (member of folk band Lau) on fiddle for an evening of music and film evoking the landscape and people of Skye.
  • Celebrate 90 years of one of Bath’s most popular venues, The Forum, with a 90th Birthday concert of blockbuster movie music with Bath Philharmonia and the musicians of The Royal Marines School of Music.

Festival favourites

  •  Party in the City. Bath’s biggest FREE night out, which opens the ten-day festival, will see 130 acts, including bands, choirs and solo performers playing live music in city centre venues, from parks to churches, from museums to pubs. This year’s Party in the City is on Friday 17 May, with tens of thousands expected to pour into the city to bring business to pubs, restaurants and cafes as they roam between venues. This evening of free music promises to be the biggest yet, with 39 venues hosting live music events. Look out for rolling news during the run-up to the festival about who is playing where.
  • A series of five guided, themed site-specific walks created for The Bath Festival – a strand of the festival which regularly sells out. The 2024 programme of walks curated for the festival by Fred Mawer Tours professional guides comprise; Less Discovered Bath: Five Georgian Crescents, Bath’s Remarkable Women, Reading Bath: Between the Lines, Bath Blitz: A Story of Destruction and Rebuilding and Bath on Screen – The Other Star of the Show.
  • Some events prove so popular that they make a welcome return this May.  The publisher’s proof parties give readers a sneak preview of titles yet to be published and our hands-on workshops, led by talented and empowering writers Cathy Rentzenbrink, Kim Sherwood and poet Carrie Etter.
  • The Bath Festival prides itself on tackling some of the big issues and talking points of our time. And this year is no exception, with discussions around mental health and therapy and the vital role food plays in our individual health. Former Bath Literature Festival artistic director Viv Groskop presents her own love story to Ukraine, with her coming-of-age memoir One Ukrainian Summer.
  • A smorgasbord of treats. Our festival audiences have interests that encompass many subjects, from the deeply serious to the delightfully ephemeral. So this year we have events which will focus on: the joy of running, Britain’s disappearing footpaths, the perennial appeal of ABBA, James Bond with Charlie Higson, crime fiction and gripping Gothic novels.

Festival guest artists

Joe Haddow, radio producer, podcast host, author is The Bath Festival 2024 guest curator of the literary programme. He also runs the long-running BBC Radio 2 Book Club. He said of the Bath line-up: “”I am so excited to welcome such an amazing array of authors and speakers to Bath Festival this year! It promises to be a joyous celebration of literature and the importance of stories.” 

Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe, Grammy nominated this year for his latest album, is Bath Festival’s artist musician in residence. He has worked alongside long-term festival music programmer James Waters to bring a curated collection of different genres of music.

The Bath Festival 2024 writers in residence are Cathy Rentzenbrink and Kit de Waal, who will be appearing at a series of events.

Cathy Rentzenbrink is a writer whose books include The Last Act of Love, Everyone is Still Alive and Write It All Down. Her new novel Ordinary Time is out in July. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, and speaks on life, death, love, and literature. 

Kit de Waal worked in criminal and family law, was a magistrate and sits on adoption panels. Her writing has received awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize and Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. Her first novel, My Name Is Leon, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. Her memoir, Without Warning And Only Sometimes was recently published to critical acclaim.

 Waterstones will be the official festival bookseller, look out for the pop-up bookshop in Bath Guildhall during the ten-day festival. 

With thanks

 The Bath Festival is supported by sponsors, including the University of Bath, Wessex Water, Bath BID, Bath Recreation, Kingswood School, Royal High School, Hawker Joinery and TooFar Media. Our partners are; Bath Box Office, Waterstones, Scala Radio, Visit Bath/Visit West, Total Guide to Bath, Bath Spa University, Gainsborough Bath Spa, The Coles Medlock Foundation, The Roper Family Charitable Trust, Bath Forum and Bath Life.

Thank you also to Bath and North East Somerset Council, Mayden, Andrew Fletcher, Wera and William Hobhouse, Elaine Marson, Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust, James and Hiroko Sherwin, Colin Skellett, Lady Evelyn Strasburger and Ian Tarr.

For full programme details visit: