There are few more magical sights than 150 hot-air balloons rising into the early morning skies over Bristol. There are also spectacular evening launches and fantastic night glows, but sunrises and balloons are the connoisseurs’ choice. The idea for the fiesta came in the early 1960s when Don Cameron came to Bristol as a young, newly qualified aeronautical engineer. At weekends he would go to the Bristol Gliding Club at Nympsfield and it was in the evening at the bar that many aeronautical exploits were planned In 1979 the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta launched. Now in its 36th year, the fiesta is the second largest hot-air ballooning gathering of its type in the world and one of the largest outdoor events in Europe – and, most importantly, it’s still free. The REM team has been involved in the event in a variety of roles for lots of those years. In 2012, REM was awarded a five-year contract covering all the elements of production, management and revenue generation. This arrangement leaves the pilots free to enjoy themselves and entertain the public. And yes – even after all these years – we still get excited when the balloons take off.
The Bristol Harbour Festival launched in 1971 (it was called the Bristol Regatta then) when a group of like-minded boats owners got together to exercise their navigational rights when some bright spark decided to fill in the docks to build a road.
It is now in its 43rd year and is estimated to attract more than 250,000 visitors over the weekend. It’s not hard to understand the attraction with music stages, circus stage, children’s area, dance village and participation areas, markets and food from around the world.
One of our main missions since being awarded a three-year tender as principal contractor has been to reconnect the audience with the harbour. To us, the Harbourside is a unique events site and envied by many industry colleagues who visit the festival. We believe the water is the star of the show so we have been building the on the water activities programme to animate the water space.
This year saw gig racing, cardboard races, tall ships, tugs, fly boarders, historic lifeboats and, those festival favourites, the Newfoundland rescue dogs.
Our offices are based on the Harbourside and we love to celebrate Bristol’s arts, music and performance culture along with our many partners and stakeholders.
One of London’s top visitor attractions, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was founded in 1759 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Over the past 250 years it has made innumerable contributions to increasing the understanding of plants and fungus with many benefits for mankind.
You can imagine with all that going on in the background, it’s not the sort of place where you can start cutting down the greenery to make the stage look good.
Set against a backdrop of beautiful grounds, Kew the Music 2014 was a magical five nights of music concerts with truly fantastic acts. A stellar line-up of performances, including Elvis Costello, Björn Again, Jools Holland, Simple Minds and comedian Bill Bailey, made this a week to remember.
Pride is a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, organised by the LGBT community. We Are: Proud is the chance for all LGBT people, their friends, families and allies across the whole of the South West to stand up and declare they are proud of who they are.
It’s also a community that knows how to party and we were delighted to be asked to site manage the final day of celebration. The day kicked off with the Pride Parade leading to an outdoor music festival featuring multi-stage entertainment, on-site play and creative activities, dedicated community and family areas, a licensed bar, food concessions, market stalls and much more.
Around 5,000 visitors braved the changeable weather conditions to enjoy an extravaganza of music, dance, sport and culture at Woking’s annual free, family-friendly Party in the Park.
From midday to 7pm, Dallas Campbell, BBC presenter from Bang Goes the Theory, introduced hardy souls to an exciting mix of interactive activities, workshops, sport on the big screen and live music and dance performances by local and national artists.
The Deputy Mayor of Woking, Cllr Derek McCrum, who officially opened proceedings, said: “What a fantastic event! I was delighted to see so many people in Woking Park on Saturday. Despite the wet weather, families, groups of young and old alike grabbed their brollies and came out to enjoy the many performances and take part in the activities on offer. I thoroughly enjoyed its inclusive, eclectic and community-based nature and the opportunity to speak to the many groups and organisations involved. The event really did celebrate what’s great about Woking and what we should be proud about!”
As WB Yeats remarked: “I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking.”
Shame he didn’t get to see Cowley Road Carnival where visitors liked to parade carnival-style, listened to some mighty sound systems and enjoyed some great food.
The famous carnival procession involved local schools and community groups, street bands and dancers, as well as groups from across the South East region, who’d spent months creating their costumes.
It was a wonderful celebration of all that is best in East Oxford and showed the benefits of a multicultural community in action.
With a strict road closure and reopening time, our Project manager Ben had an interesting method of opening one of Oxford’s principal roads: road sweeping machines, security and the police force formed a line at both ends of Cowley Road and worked towards each other. When he says “sweep“, he really means it!
It’s easy to underestimate how much the public like to interact with members of the Armed Forces. Queen Square in Bristol played host to the city’s first-ever Armed Forces Day celebration. Designed to support armed forces past and present, the day enabled visitors to see and sit on huge bits of machinery, talk to servicemen and woman, express their respect and find out the realities of their lives.
Military equipment and vehicle displays ran alongside the event with information and charity stalls placed around the square. In addition, a full programme of live music ran throughout the day with a whole range of acts including the Sisters of Swing, the Royal Military Drum Corps, the Bristol Military Wives Choir and the Westerly Show Band.
The event was hosted and organised by Bristol City Council in partnership with Bristol’s Armed Forces Community and blessed with sunshine. Given the success of the show’s debut, it’s likely to become an annual event.
The undoubted star of the show was 92 year old George “Johnny” Johnson who is the last surviving Dambuster having flown the mission when he was just 22 .
Bristol Summer Series, a new live music event focused on bringing high profile artists to the historic Harbourside for alfresco concerts, made its debut in late June. REM and Metropolis have a history of waterside collaborations having managed the Massive Attack gig in the same place several years ago.
The concerts are the inspiration of Conal Dodds and Metropolis Music, who sold out the opening night starring Paulo Nutini in just three hours.
The second night in the iconic Amphitheatre came alive with the dulcet tones of Irish punk band The Pogues and also witnessed some a selection of slightly frenzied dancing by random middle aged men sporting hats of various shapes and sizes.
Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride is one of the UK’s largest free non-competitive cycling events. This year it joined forces with Big Green Week for after-ride activities and an after party on College Green.
With a choice of four routes ranging from nine to 38 miles, people of all ages and abilities were able to enjoy a fun day sharing traffic-free routes under Bristol’s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and into the beautiful countryside beyond.
REM worked with the event to ensure signage and stewarding was put in exactly the right place.
REM has a long history of working in Liverpool and unrivalled expertise in maritime festivals so we were delighted to be awarded the site and production management contract.
The International Mersey River Festival and Music on the Waterfront sees tens of thousands of people head to the waterfront. Highlights included a fleet of vessels which were open for visitors to explore at set times across the weekend, walking tours, model boat displays, flyboarding, Zap Cat racing, have-a-go water sport sessions, the 25th International Canoe Polo Tournament, a special Brouhaha parade and field gun displays.
In addition, visitors were also treated to live music courtesy of Music on the Waterfront. Starting on Friday evening with a homecoming DJ set from Craig Charles, there will performances by The Christians, Rhydian, Jaki Graham, Esco Williams, the Band of HM Royal Marines Scotland and Rat Pack Live. Russell Watson also aboard Tall Ship Mercedes.