BAM meets Upfest

Sometimes it feels like Bristol welcomes another festival every weekend over the summer. Recently we’ve seen nature, music and BBQ all celebrated in true Bristol style.

But in a few week’s time Bristol’s unique art scene will be in the spotlight at Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival. For one weekend, Bedminster will play host to 300 of the world’s best street artists and many of the resulting artworks will stay with us for the whole year.

Upfest 2017 is set to be bigger and better than ever as the festival expands to Ashton Court Stadium, where you’ll be able to watch as 50 artists and their paints are set loose over 200m of wall. Families will definitely want to check it out as it’s also where many of the children’s workshops will be taking place.

We caught up with Steve Hayles, founder of the festival, to find out more about what families can expect this year.

Only a few weeks to go before the return of Upfest! What’s the biggest challenge you face in the final run up to the event?
Well the planning has been taking place for eight months now and our production schedule has 280 items to complete in the next three weeks. So, I guess the biggest challenge is keeping on track to deliver an amazing event for both the artists that come from across the globe under their own steam as well as the thousands of visitors. 

Some people might think of Upfest as an adult event, but you guys make a real effort to make families feel welcome too. Why do you think it’s important to get kids involved? 
Not only do kids enhance the vibe of the festival, our festival ethos has always been about inclusion. Unlike some other art forms, street art has a magic way of engaging audiences of all ages. Since the festival started we’ve helped raise funds and awareness for NACOA (National Association for Children of Alcoholics), so it’s always been a priority to make an inclusive event for kids as well as die-hard street art fans. 

What can families attending Upfest look forward to this year?
We have some great workshops for kids this year. To celebrate Morph’s 40th birthday, Aardman Animations will be running model making workshops. The Nacoa Kids Zone will definitely be worth checking out with badge making, giant painting, biscuit decorating and much more. Let’s Make Art will be bringing amazing laser cut guitars that kids can customise with glitter, pens and stickers and the Royal Society of Chemistry will be running some paint experiments. Posca Pens will also be returning to encourage little street artists to get involved and there’ll be lots more as well.

You can see a full list of workshops here.

What’s the best thing about running the festival?
The day after the festival finishes and looking back on what’s been created. The build up is a series of small and big tasks so it’s not until after the festival that you properly get an overview of how everything has come together. Personally I’m always humbled by the number of volunteers that come together to pull off such a huge event and the artists who travel from around the world to our festival in Bemmie… 

Who is your personal art throb?
Dip-low Matic 😉 

Ha ha, fair enough! What is your favourite piece of public art in Bristol?
That’s another unfair question, our city is a tapestry of colour changing everyday but, if I have to choose, the artwork by PichiAvo which has adorned the wall of the Masonic pub, North Street for the the past 12 months is absolutely outstanding.

Upfest is taking place 29-31 July and you can download your festival map now. A highlight in the Bristol calendar, it’s always a true celebration of what makes Bristol unique. We’ll see you down there!

💥 BAM 💥

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