Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea Reveals Key Programme Highlights For 2019 Festival

These feature a variety of bespoke commissions and performances including real time projection mapping on Bournemouth Town Hall, medieval fire shows, interactive sound and light installations, carnivalesque parades, pop-up theatre shows and hilarious walkabout characters.


Bournemouth’s must-visit arts and culture festival, Arts by the Sea, has announced the first phase of bespoke performances and commissions for 2019. The event runs from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th September and is set to attract tens of thousands of people to Bournemouth town centre with an intriguing, lively and truly unique exploration of arts and culture. This first announcement reveals fifteen highlights from a programme of over one hundred performances, including mesmerising projection mapping on Bournemouth Town Hall, unforgettable fire shows, carnivalesque parades, and pop-up, hilarious walkabout theatre. Delivered by BCP Council and in association with Arts Council England, Arts by the Sea Festival is free-to-attend. For more info visit


Now in its ninth year, Arts by the Sea, remains one of the South Coast’s most popular arts festivals. Each year, it wows audiences through an innovative programme of music, performance art, poetry, film and more. Earlier this year Arts by the Sea revealed its ‘Mind Matter’ concept exploring a plethora of mental health-related subjects in a carefully curated element within its wider programme. In association with various partners, including local mental health charity, Dorset Mind and academics from Bournemouth University, the ‘Mind Matter Hub’ in Bournemouth town centre will provide hands-on-activities, installations and exhibitions to get people talking about, and practising, the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’.


In 2019, audiences will experience some outstanding spectacles. ‘Illuminos’ lead the way with a bespoke, site-specific commission for Bournemouth and Arts by the Sea. Mapping technology projected on the façade of Bournemouth’s Town Hall, will transport audiences back to the Victorian era. They will witness the Hôtel d’Illusions show featuring popular themes of the time like magic, science and hypnosis. Blurring lines of reality and illusion, as connected to the Mind Matter strand, Illuminos draw inspiration from Victorian illusionists and showmen, David Devant and TJ West, the latter of whom brought his animated projections to Bournemouth. Marvels of the age, such as The Lady in the Goldfish Bowl will transform the Town Hall, itself built in this era. Interspersed with this will be contemporary wonders and elements in partnership with Bournemouth University, as well as music specially composed by local musicians.

Another bespoke performance choreographed specifically for Arts by the Sea, comes from Belgium collective, Pyronix. Their breath-taking, medieval show full of battling, juggling and fire manipulation, will push the boundaries of darkness and light as they dazzle audiences with an unforgettable and unique performance.

One of the most popular elements of Arts by the Sea is the Shademakers UK Carnival-esque parade. They return with Submerge: Carnival SOS featuring a colourful and impressive 8-metre long whale shark, and many other sea and water creatures, with the aim to shine a spotlight on eco and sustainability messages to Save Our Seas.


ROUNDABOUT, the world’s first pop-up theatre also returns to Arts by the Sea, provided by festival partner, Lighthouse Poole. Guests will be seated in-the-round, close to the action, to enjoy unforgettable theatre, live music and comedy in a unique and intimate setting. Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd productions provide brand new plays to choose from including, the beautiful, ferocious ‘Daughterhood’ by Charley Miles which explores the breaking of family bonds; ‘On The Other Hand, We’re Happy’ by Daf James, a tender, funny and hopeful play about being a mum when your name is Dad; and ‘Dexter And Winter’s Detective Agency’ by Nathan Bryon, a mad-cap family adventure story from one of the writers behind CBeebies hits, Rastamouse, Apple Tree House and Swashbuckle.

Elsewhere at Arts by the Sea, guests can be enveloped in an immersive and inimitable world of sound and light as they enter Cocoon, commissioned especially for the festival by its Associate Artists, Ithaca Studio. The Time Travel Treatment Room also features in the 2019 programme, where audiences will be astounded by past, peculiar mental health diagnoses and treatments, hosted by the side-splitting duo, Victorian Doctor and Matron. Also look out for the giant, bioluminescent fungus installation of More Than A Mushroom presented in partnership with Kew Gardens, and the satirical slapstick show of Doctor! Doctor! by Safety Catch Theatre set in the middle of an epidemic with the only remaining equipment that’s left of the NHS!

The curious character walkabouts, which can be seen all over Bournemouth during Arts by the Sea, capture the hearts and imagination; observe or get involved. ‘Same Difference’, performs a gesture and mime comedy show exploring two sister’s memories, compete with rickshaw bike and music. From the Bread and Butter Theatre, Leek FM’s expert gardeners, Pete and Ged Moss – complete with musical wheelbarrow – host a whimsical version of Gardeners’ Question Time. Swank Theatre stage ‘Jolly Holiday’ with Big Mam and desperate daughter, Dolly on a Jolly Holiday with their puppet companions, Nanna and Wee Dadexpect spontaneous street conga, hokey cokey and rock ‘n’ roll dancing.

Other street theatre includes the captivating characters from The Flying Buttresses, Hodman Dodmanott and Sally Forth, venturing out in search of fame, fortune and friendship after hundreds of years living in blissful ignorance of the changing world around them. Elsewhere, Artemis Productions return to the festival presenting Bob and Gerry, a giant flower and his butterfly companion, who are in search of a sun-drenched spot whilst delivering horticultural one-liners to make guests smile. Look out for The Fishko Disco underwater disco where giant, jazzy fish with illuminated opening mouths and fibreoptic articulating fins, are operated by sequin clad puppeteers with disco dancing DJ chaperone! Another likely encounter is Kitsch & Sync’s Mystic Myfanwy and The Psychic Sisters who can read fortunes using contemporary dance, the psychic iPod and emoji roulette – but beware, all is not what it seems!

On the 2019 programme, Creative Director Roxy Robinson said: “We’re delighted to present the first wave of artists for Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea. From fiery performance art through to show-stopping digital projection displays and carnivalesque processions, our headline events can be enjoyed by all ages and are not to be missed. Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements as we release further info on our main and fringe programme in the coming weeks”.

Coinciding with this core programme launch, Arts by the Sea has unveiled its new artwork, inspired by the Mind Matter concept. Graphic designer with a Fine Arts degree, Drew Millward, has been commissioned for several years now to create the festival’s artwork. For 2019, he began with the idea of “keeping one’s head above water”, whilst projecting a fun and bold theme evident in the new look design.


With this latest Arts by the Sea Festival announcement, another exciting year lies ahead.  Dozens more awe inspiring, engaging and fun-packed activities are yet to be announced as the festival continues on its mission to deliver an unrivalled programme of diverse arts and culture. Keep an eye out for more announcements coming soon.