Weston Arts + Health Festival ends with a splash!

Thousands of people enjoyed a finale weekend of sunshine-filled spectacles as the third, annual Weston Arts + Health Festival drew to a close. The event (5 – 9 October) was produced by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and Culture Weston. The festival’s theme ‘Global Weston’ celebrated the rich diversity of the town’s community and its hospital staff and the universal things that connect us.

Residents and visitors of all ages dived in to a packed programme of free community events that offered something for everyone and showcased the impact of creativity on health and wellbeing. 

An opening launch event unveiled the centre-piece of the Festival – ‘In Our Hands’, a unique outdoor photography exhibition that celebrates the stories of Weston General Hospital’s staff created by UHBW Arts & Culture with photographer Paul Blakemore and UHBW Medical Illustration. The weekend finale saw a splash of Bollywood style synchronised swimming at Marine Lake by ‘Almost Synchro’, choreographed by local artist Shruti Bhoyar.

The five day Festival included a special programme of activities at Weston General Hospital; Grove Park bandstand performances; pop-up poetry; craft sessions; international music, song and dance; co-created theatre; arts + health talks and panels; creative tasters; online events; horticulture; community feasts provided by Loves Café and more. 

Bandstand Bonanza and Buffet in Grove Park. Credit Mark Atherton

Fiona Matthews, creative director at Culture Weston, said “The joyful ‘In Our Hands’ exhibition at the heart of this year’s festival is about recognising and celebrating people’s stories and contributions. Over the past five days the varied programme has created a multitude of ways to share experiences and make new connections.  

“From family disco bingo and people’s poetry to synchro swimming and poignant, community theatre, local voices and opportunities have been lighting up the town, filling the soul and generating new ways to wellbeing for the future.”

Frances Macadam, Head of Arts Programme, UHBW, said: “We want to thank  residents and visitors in Weston for their warmth and enthusiasm for this year’s Weston Arts + Health Festival and for helping to make it such a wonderful event.   The UHBW Arts & Culture team were delighted to meet and engage with so many people in the town and at the hospital, strengthening connections and building new ones too.”

The ‘In Our Hands’ exhibition continues to run in Princess Royal Square opposite the Grand Pier until the end of October.

In Our Hands Exhibition participants & staff at Weston General Hospital with photographer Paul Blakemore & staff at UHBW Arts & Culture. Credit Lou Taylor

Artist Shruti Bhoyar’s collection of Cold Water Swimming illustrations can also be seen on the High Street in a window display at Weston Artspace and in the Knightstone corridor at Weston General Hospital. Both visual events will be available to view online at superculture.org.uk

Weston Arts + Health Festival 2022 is supported by funding from Arts Council England and Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity.  


Main image – Almost Synchro Meets Bollywood, credit Paul Blakemore