Loading...

SXS Events

  • Bristol City Festival Advice

Bristol City Festival Advice

Bristol - The best city for holding festivals.

At SXS we are huge advocates of Bristol's numerous sites, infrastructure and attitude to live events. This article has been written as a general guide for people looking to organise events in the city of Bristol. The advice is first-hand and often opinion-based.

Location:

Bristol is based in the South West of the UK which is often seen as an agricultural area. Despite the country-like location Bristol is a very buzzing city a short distance from the large populations of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. In additional Bristol is only about 90 minutes from both London and Birmingham - the UK's two largest cities.

Travelling to Bristol:

The people of the UK are generally very open to travelling and people are happy to travel for appealing events. It is possible to draw in an audience from cities including London, Birmingham, Reading, Cardiff, Newport, Bath, Swansea and even Plymouth if you have the right event offering.

  • Car - Travelling by car is easy. Click here to see where Bristol is on Google maps.
  • Train - train travel to Bristol is easy and can be done without change-overs from most of the cities above.
  • Buses - Buses traditionally tend to take a very long time and be expensive. However they can be cheaper if you are flexible on travel times, and services like the 'megabus' can provide direct journeys between major cities.

The Culture and People of Bristol:

Bristol has become known as a 'melting pot of creativity' in the fields of music, art and technology. Company founder Johnny Palmer believes that "Bristol is deserving of this reputation and I have personally seen the city become a thriving centre of creativity in the last ten years. My personal view on why this has happened is because of the universities in the city" (University of the West of England and Bristol University) "Many young people stay in Bristol after studying which leads to a generally quite youthful population. The nature of these young people - myself included - is that they have left home to start a new life by going to university. Once in Bristol they create a good life for themselves whilst at university, often meet partners, and then stay afterwards. These people have made a conscious commitment to the city and for this reason are happy with their lives. Such people from Bristol will often come across as evangelical about their lives in the city, which is a great thing! SXS has its administrative, fabrication, creative and storage facility in Bristol. Bristol is the perfect city for us because of the creative talent of the people, affordable warehousing and central location to our main centres of work throughout the UK."

Sites for Events in Bristol

There are several sites available for events and festivals in Bristol. For the purpose of this article I will focus on those which are within the city and suitable for outdoor events.

Castle Park

This is a site which is adjacent to The Galleries, Broadmead, and more recently Cabot Circus shopping centres. The site has a rolling topography so is best suited to events that have multiple small to medium zones. Access is good. Existing infrastructure is limited, so allow for complete event infrastructure to be installed. Staging systems in Castle Park need to be able to handle a range of gradients. SXS provides staging systems with screw-jack legs; allowing for precise adjustment to the ground undulations. Sound restrictions may be in place at Castle Park (check with Bristol City Council Environmental Health), depending on dates, times, musical content etc. In such situations SXS can provide a full sound propogation service, focused line array sound systems and on-going sound level readings.

  • Stage: No stages are in situ. SXS can provide stage hire including arched roof, steeldeck and orbit stages for this site
  • Access: very good. 40' articulated lorries can gain access easily to the site, but not to the exact setup areas.
  • Sound: Sound restrictions are likely to be in place. SXS will work with you to produce a sound management plan and level methodology.
  • Lighting: The site has basic street lighting which is not sufficient for events. Speak to us about tower light hire, festoon lighting and architectural lighting.
  • Distance from SXS HQ: 12 minutes by car

Millennium Square

Millennium Square is part of the Harbourside, which is generally seen as being seen as central. The square is large and the ground is almost perfectly flat, although it does have a slight camber for drainage. Minimal structure levelling is required, which SXS can do. The square also features a large LED screen, which is operated by @Bristol. They have, on occasion, allowed this to be used for events, but you would need to check with them. Access to the square is good, however the single largest limiting factor of the site is the limited ground load capacity. The entire square is on top of an underground car park which means that the ground above is only suitable for pedestrians. Cars and trucks cannot be driven over it. This means that trailer stage systems and high-load orbit stage structures are unsuitable. Instead SXS's Freemont and Harlem outdoor structures are ideal. These are made from component parts so there is no need for vehicular access to the event site. In addition the point loads of the structure are spread out over large areas.

  • Stage: No stages are in situ. SXS can provide stage hire including arched roof, steel deck and orbit stages for this site
  • Access: vehicles can get next to the site but not drive on it.
  • Sound: Sound restrictions are likely to be in place. SXS will work with you to produce a sound management plan and level methodology.
  • Lighting: The site has good street lighting
  • Power: The existing supply is sufficient for basic audio. For events where full production is required generators are best.
  • Existing infrastructure: There are some nearby toilets which may be suitable for crew use, but not for the event day
  • Distance from SXS HQ: 13 minutes by car

Queens Square

Queens Square is within walking distance of both Castle Park and Millennium Square, so can be viewed as a central area. This is a beautiful park area that is surrounded by buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The square is often used for location filming where Georgian terraces are needed as a backdrop. Although it looks like a residential area it is almost entirely offices (except for a new development in one corner). There are numerous mature trees in the square. Aesthetically these are great features and the SXS team can illuminate them in beautiful colours. However these trees do restrict sight lines, meaning that the site is not ideal if a large arena is required. The site is grassed except for paths crossing diagonally across the space. A road runs all the way around the square with parking on all four sides (subject to parking restrictions). Access is excellent. There is no existing infrastructure (SXS can provide power, water, audio, lighting and flooring as required). The site tends to be used for more family-focused or low-key events.

  • Stage: No stages are in situ. SXS can provide stage hire including arched roof, steeldeck and orbit stages for this site
  • Access: very good. 40' artics can gain access easily to the site
  • Sound: Sound restrictions are likely to be in place. SXS will work with you to produce a sound management plan and level methodology.
  • Lighting: The site has limited street lighting which is not sufficient for events. Speak to us about tower light hire, festoon lighting and architectural lighting.
  • ExistingInfrastructure: None. Everything needs to be brought in.
  • Distance from SXS HQ: 11 minutes by car

Lloyds Amphitheatre

The amphitheatre has generally been the site used for all major events in Bristol's centre in past years. But recently Castle Park has become increasingly popular. The site is a semi-circle with steps leading into it. This makes sight-lines for larger audiences excellent. It is also situated in an area where the council allow good sound levels for concerts. One entire length of the amphitheatre backs onto the floating harbour. Careful consideration must be given to the site safety due to the risks presented by water. The amphitheatre has some power available onsite, but it is best to use generators. It is less 100m from the Millennium Square - often the two sites are used in conjunction. Access is very good and articulated lorries can gain access easily. To current knowledge there are no ground load limits. Stage: No stages are in situ. Despite the name suggesting otherwise the space is not suitable for ground-level performances. SXS can provide stage systems that are the perfect size and fit for the space.

  • Access: very good. 40' artics can gain access easily to the site and to the exact setup area.
  • Sound: Sound restrictions are likely to be in place. SXS will work with you to produce a sound management plan and level methodology.
  • Lighting: The site has basic street lighting which is not sufficient for events. Speak to us about tower light hire, festoon lighting and architectural lighting
  • Power: It is best not to rely on existing power infrastructure. Call in generators from us.
  • Existing infrastructure: None.
  • Distance from SXS HQ: 16 minutes by car

Suppliers in Bristol

Bristol has a wide range of companies who can supply all the equipment, staffing and other resources for major events. There is absolutely no need to bring in companies from outside the city. SXS are a key supplier of structures, power, audio, lighting, video, rigging, stages, flooring and fencing. For services that SXS do not provide in-house (such as security and marquees) we will gladly introduce you to suitable companies (subject to SXS being appointed as a production provider) or book them on your behalf.

Council Approval and Safety

For any event that you organise in Bristol (or any other city for that matter) it is essential that you get the correct licenses and permissions. In order to get these and to have a safe and effective event, you will need to draft an Event Management and Safety Plan. This is effectively a manual on how the event will run and what happens in all possible instances. This can include information on security, site plan, production, structures, ticketing, fencing and all other aspects of the planning and delivery of the event.

Site plans will also be essential to your event. These help to communicate to all involved (licensing authorities, contractors and other stakeholders) what space is being used, where everything goes and how the event will work. SXS has on file detailed site maps for all of the above locations. These are stored in scaled 3D and allow us to map out precisely the event space, ensuring that everything fits and there is enough space for exit routes and other crowd access.

About the Author:

Johnny Palmer is the founder and MD of SXS Events.

SXS is a Bristol-based event production company that works throughout the UK and Europe on live events. From in house equipment stocks SXS provide rigging, structures, concert audio, lighting for stage and effect, video production, decor, power distribution and 3d visuals.

Clients

Select a logo to view our case studies:

  • AppleWestfieldPerformance Marketing AwardsSPAR 60th Anniversary
  • SwarovskiSamsungArmaniCopperbox Arena
  • Magdalen CollegeLexusBBCUtility Week Awards
  • ICICI BankBupaAirbusEurostar Train Launch
  • AudiMusic Week AwardsUnileverBritain & Ireland's Next Top Model
  • All
  • //
  • Projects
  • //
  • Services