Co-produced by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust

All activities from Friday 12 July onwards take place at the Festival Hub, a beautiful canvas tent on the beach, adjacent to Revo Kitchen, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1BE

When communities come together, incredible things happen, and Weston’s Arts + Health Festival continues to bring this principle to life in the most heartwarming of ways.   Responding to the ‘Take Five and Tea-party’ theme of this year’s festival, Alliance Homes residents and Hospital volunteers have picked up their crochet hooks to create over 100 stunning tea cosies that will be auctioned for charity throughout the festival weekend.    Each tea cosy tells a story of its own, as do all those who have given up their time to make them.  Pop along to We Are Super at the Sovereign Centre any time before Friday 12 July to see them exhibited in advance of the auction.

This year’s theme ‘Take Five’ celebrates the value of taking time within your day to do something enjoyable.  With our unpredictable Summer weather in mind,  the Festival Hub is a giant canvas tent on the beach,  and a great place to discover new people and pursuits whatever the weather.  Free tea is on tap throughout the weekend – with water boiled over an open fire, and friendly tea specialist Rona on hand to tell origin stories about tea and help you make up your own perfect cuppa.

The Festival programme has a running tea party theme, with plenty of opportunities for people to come together in positive shared activity, also highlighting the many and varied community organisations which underpin Weston’s creative offer year-round.

In the run-up to the Festival there will be tea parties taking place at the Hospital and out in the community, brewing up excitement for the festival weekend itself.   Also at the hospital is an uplifting creative programme for staff and patients, inspired by the Five Ways to Wellbeing, which are a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing: connect, be active, learn new skills, give to others, take notice.  

“We’re especially pleased that this year’s festival involves the majority of our Creatives in Residence” comments Frances Macadam, Head of Arts Programme for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW). “On Friday 12th July, there’s a rich array of creative activities for staff and patients at the hospital, supported by UHBW Visual Artist in Residence Jo Sinclair, and our Poet and Musician in Residence, performing as House of Figs, will be moonlighting al fresco on the Friday evening alongside musicians Roland Harad and Apple of Eye with a brilliant evening for all to enjoy.  Don’t forget to book your ticket!”

And to get you in the poetic mood, don’t forget the online poetry Speakeasy on Thursday 11 July, featuring poets from UHBW Staff, alongside guest poet Deb Alma, founder of the acclaimed Poetry Pharmacy bookshop.

Beachside highlights across the Festival weekend include:

Friday 12 July, 7.30pmFriday Night Sounds on the Sands, an evening of standout music and poetry from some of the Hospital’s Creatives in Residence. House of Figs share their unique blend of poetic warmth and wit that last year delighted festival audiences at Womad and Shambala; singer Roland Harrad amazes with his vocal versatility that springs from hip-hop to opera; and Apple of My Eye’s irresistible folk ballads are likely to get you on your feet dancing.

All weekend – a range of creative activities are at the Festival Hub across both days (10am-2pm Saturday, 11am-3pm Sunday), presented by some of the fantastic groups who have regular creative participation offers in the town.  Choose from vintage tea cup planting with Friends of Grove Park, Me Old China community mosaic with Create Together, slow stitching & weaving with UHBW Visual Artist in Residence, and much more besides.

Saturday 13 July – the early bird catches the worm with a 7am Bird Walk along the beach, led by Chris Sperring MBE (BBC Radio 4, Autumnwatch), whose soaring knowledge of birds will lend a whole new perspective to your understanding of the coastline. There’s more walking at 11am with a Nature Connection Walk led by the team from the Mendip Hills National Landscape, encouraging us to take time to find special moments in nature. Meanwhile Little People, Big Feelings storytime creates a gentle space back at the Hub at 10.30am. Then, at Noon, Samir Savant, Director of St George’s Bristol, invites us to find out the benefits of singing with a talk and maybe a little singing! You are then invited to breathe deeply and book onto a Mindfulness Walk at 2pm.

The Posh Club take up residence from 3pm-5pm (dress code: Posh), bringing to the beach their glamorous performance and social club for older people that has become a national phenomenon.  The Posh Club’s irresistible events are styled as tongue-in-cheek ‘posh’ 1940’s afternoon tea with live cabaret turns, volunteer waiters in black tie, and vintage crockery.  Social connectivity and inter-generational volunteering are encouraged in the most splendid of fashions, with warmth, frills, and frolics at the heart of the experience.  This event is free, for the over 60s and must be pre-booked. Although people of all ages are welcome to walk up and enjoy the show – which includes Elvis and Opera! – from the sidelines.

Sunday 14 July gets off to an active start at 9.30am with an Acrobatics and Circus workshop with European Collective ConTakt who return later that day with their high octane Circus Show, FOLEY, exploring the power of playfully connecting with others to build trust and new possibilities. Tall towers, high throws and live music combine to create true spectacle.  

There are more opportunities to join two different walking offers on Sunday with a Health Walk at 10am, and for those who wish to exercise vocal chords as well as leg muscles, a Singing Walk at 12pm led by acclaimed singer-songwriter Racheal Dadd, with Julia Turner.  

At 12.30pm, LGBTQI+ performance artist Tom Marshman invites you to join his alternative Sunday Lunch, a Hidden Histories Tea Party. Share your experiences of forgotten histories either as a result of Section 28 or your own lived silenced period, alongside bite-sized slices of cake and performance, flowing tea and conversation.  

Energy levels are raised again at 2pm on the Promenade with The Original Spinners who use music, movement, creativity and play to enable joyful experiences for those in hospital settings and beyond.

Woman playing a guitar and smiling in front of Weston General Hospital.
Credit Paul Blakemore

A special treat awaits as a finale for the weekend with a Peace Feast at 4pm, with food served up by Global Kitchen refugee cooking collective alongside Loves Cafe and Refugees Welcome North Somerset.  A free and delicious celebration of Weston’s community, with all welcome (until the food runs out!).

Feasters can also enjoy The Great Tea Cosy Auction across the weekend – place your bid in the Tea Cosy Auction book which will be in the Hub throughout the Festival, or join the limited edition live auction at 4.30pm on Sunday!  Helping to raise money for Weston Hospicecare and Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity.

Last but not least on the bill at 5.30pm you can join us for a Peace Feast Sing-a-long led by UHBW’s Staff Choir leader.

“It’s always an honour to partner with the staff and patients at UHBW and the creative community of Weston to produce the annual Arts + Health Festival” comments Fiona Matthews, Creative Director of Super Culture. “ As befits the Tea Party theme, this year’s Festival is a potted version of many of those things that are in Weston year-round to help you feel good – including healthcare, arts,  crafts, nature and a strong sense of community.  Tickets are going fast for bookable events, so don’t delay if something catches your interest!”

Weston Arts + Health Festival is co-produced by Super Culture and The Arts & Culture Programme, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust. Events are bookable in advance or drop-in. Visit https://superculture.org.uk/whats-on/ for full programme details and follow @superculturewsm for the latest updates.  

Weston Arts + Health Festival 2024 is supported by funding from Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity and Arts Council England.  Additional support is also gratefully received from Arts and Humanities Research Council and Bristol University (as part of Coastal Community and Creative Health programme), Mendip Hills National Landscape, Alliance Homes, North Somerset Community Food grant and Revo Kitchen.