The annual graffiti festival Upfest in Bedminster is one of the key dates in Bristol’s cultural calendar. Each year, it transforms the area with new street art murals from some of the greatest local and international graffiti artists. But today (December 2), Upfest announced that it will not take place next year.
Upfest will be back, however, but instead has decided to switch to a biannual model. This means we will not see the graffiti festival return until 2024. Organisers say the rising costs associated with the events industry are the issue. It has forced them to turn their attention to the following year in order to maintain standards. They claim they will need to raise at least £180,000 to stage the free event in 2024.
“We’re gutted to not be putting on the festival in 2023 but the risk to the organisation is just too great. We know our visitors love the festival and it has played a big part in making Bedminster a street art hub for the city and has become known internationally for it,” said Steve Hayles, Upfest co-founder.
“With rising infrastructure costs, site fees and without funding, we won’t be able to raise the funds we need in 2023 to keep the festival free, so instead we will turn our attention to 2024. Anyone who would like to support or sponsor the festival in 2024 would be very welcome and please do get in touch.”
Upfest attracts over 50,000 visitors to the festival across its weekend each year. So this will be a real knock to local businesses. But as one of the city’s largest free-to-attend festivals, it is important to the Upfest team that it remains free for everyone. And this is the only feasible way to ensure that.
Previous editions have brought phenomenal, large-scale murals to Bedminster including Kobra’s iconic John Lennon mural & Insane51’s 3D piece featuring Greek Goddess NYX. This year, the festival moved to a new location at Greville Smyth Park, as well as Ashton Gate Stadium and the Tobacco Factory. Over 400 artists from around the world hit Bristol’s streets with paint cans. Including artists such as Aches, Inkie, Kashink, L7m, Sabek and Goin.
For now, the Upfest team will focus on other projects, including exhibitions at their North Street Gallery and planning the festival for 2024. To learn more about Upfest head here.