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2023: The start of a new chapter for Bristol Beacon

This year we welcomed you back!

On Thursday 30 November 2023 we turned the page in the history of Bristol Beacon and opened our doors after a five-year, once-in-a-generation transformation of our performance spaces.

The road to reopening has been long and often challenging, but always fascinating and exciting – and we couldn’t have travelled along it without the support from you, the people and music-lovers of Bristol. Thank you!

Here is a look back at how far we’ve come in the past 12 months, and the many brilliant moments we’ve already shared since opening. We’re so glad to be back celebrating live music with you again!

Where we started

In January of this year our venue was still a sea of scaffold. The roof was on and the building was water tight, but we still had a long way to go before we could plug everything in and turn on the sound.

Over the course of the project, over 1,000 local construction workers and specialists from all over the country have worked over 1 million hours. The scale of the work undertaken is staggering – and all of it to create one of the best performance spaces in Europe to experience live music.

Check out the gallery and the video we made with Bristol artist Grove at the end of 2022 to see how it all looked at the start of this year.

A city-wide music programme

Before we reopened, we worked with over 40 partner venues on our city-wide music programme, bringing amazing artists to some of Bristol’s incredible grassroots performance venues. We also continued to deliver over 20,000 music lessons this year and a series of incredible performance opportunities for children and young people across the city.

Reaffirming our Net Zero ambitions

Did you know that audience travel makes up 62% of our carbon footprint?

In June 2023 we entered a partnership with First Bus to promote low carbon travel within the city. It’s the first of several initiatives that will help us on our journey to become the UK’s first net zero concert hall by 2030.

Four people hold up a sign saying 'Bristol Beacon, bus stops here' in a city centre location

Test driving our venue

In the months before we reopened, we held lots of test events to put the new venue through its paces. It was a bit like driving a Formula 1 car for the first time, without an instruction manual! (We’ve written one now.)

As we got familiar with our new performance spaces, we asked Facilities manager Joe Allotey to show us round and give you a sneak peek of how it all works.

All Together Now

As the big moment drew closer, we thought we’d ask you to get involved and take part in our reopening campaign. We were just blown away by your response – over 200 of you signed up to take part!

We had great fun at our photo shoot, with audience members, artists, a few staff for good measure – Bristolians of all stripes – taking part. A HUGE thank you to everyone.

In write writing on a blue background, the billboard reads 'Movers shakers, music makers' alongside a collage of people doing various activities
All Together Now Billboard - Movers Shakers Music Makers

Opening weekend

Music! People! Joy! Our opening weekend kicked off with an opening night performance of Trip the Light Fantastic, a world premiere where light, sound and music collided in spectacular fusion. Created in collaboration with Paraorchestra, Surgeons Girl, Charles Hazlewood, and Limbic Cinema this enthralling production lit up the Beacon in glorious fashion. What a moment!

Two days later on Saturday 2 December we hosted one of our most ambitious and exciting events we’ve ever staged. The Housewarming was a 15-hour, free, day-to-night party celebrating the colourful spectrum of Bristol’s creative community.

We saw Mariachi madness, brass band mash-ups, mass choirs with over 1000 people taking part, 8-year-old DJs, orchestral magnificence, Americana, grime, hip hop, jazz, blues, cumbia, and so much more. We welcomed 14,000 of you through the door in just one day in an incredible showcase of our new spaces and this city’s creativity. It was the only way we could have done it – with everyone invited – and we want to re-live it over and over again!

What an inspiring event. So many different styles, tastes, lifestyles, backgrounds, all celebrating together… a stunning transformation of the building and culture of the city. I had so much fun.

Audience comment
The Housewarming


A platform for young musicians to shine

Our stages are an important platform for Bristol’s young musicians and emerging artists. Since opening, we’ve had 2,252 children and young people perform on our stage already!

A fabulous event. It really is a life time memory to be treasured.

Parent of a young musician

We’re open! And it feels fantastic

Since we opened just under three weeks ago we’ve welcomed an incredible array of artists from star DJs to Rock n Roll legends to 107-piece orchestras – including Penguin Cafe, Billy Bragg, New Regency Orchestra, Annie Mac, The Darkness, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and loads more. And you’ve been there to celebrate live music with us once again – all 44,000 of you who’ve joined us in the past 3 weeks!

Looking ahead to 2024

We’re open, but that’s just the beginning. 2024 has some amazing things in store including the continuation of our Orchestral Season, artists like Paul Weller, Thundercat, Fatoumata Diawara, comedians aplenty, and the return of Simple Things Festival.

Our house is open, we look forward to welcoming you in 2024!

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