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Celebrating 10 years of Colston Hall Foyer

On Wednesday 18 September 2009 we threw open the doors of Colston Hall Foyer for the first time with a festival of music and live performance. Today, ten years later, we’re celebrating some of our favourite moments from the iconic entrance hall.

Take a look back through photos and videos from the amazing live performances, exhibitions and festivals that we’ve hosted in the Foyer, see how it’s changed through the years and find out how you can come and use our Foyer as a community space for your group or organisation.

Foyer Opening Festival

Filling the concourse at the front of our Foyer with performance, projection and live music, our Foyer Opening Festival featured an amazing acrobatic aerial performance by Cirque Bijou with music performed by The Boxettes. The festival also featured Sax Massive, a commission of music by Adrian Utley for 100 guitars and a headline performance from Roni Size in our main hall.

Our favourite gigs

The Anatomy Of The Orchestra, Sat 21 Apr 2018

In 2018 our associate artists The British Paraorchestra and Friends performed Steve Reich’s The Four Sections across all levels of Colston Hall foyer in The Anatomy of the Orchestra. It left many audience members speechless!

“This show blew me away. Being able to walk amongst all the orchestra musicians, all the different sections – that was a unique experience.”

-The Anatomy of the Orchestra

Simple Things Festival

Since 2013 we’ve been a proud host of Bristol-based Simple Things Festival and presented some of the foremost proponents of contemporary music culture in our venue spaces including the Foyer. With acts as diverse as Shanti Celeste to HMLTD to Marie Davidson, the festival surprises us every year with its varied and exciting programme.

Binkbeats, Sat 31 Jan 2015

Back in 2015 Dutch percussionist and producer Binkbeats took us on a journey of loops and samples with renditions of Amon Tobin, Flying Lotus and J Dilla. With his sensational light show and surrounded by literally 100s of instruments on stage, this was quite a spectacle.

Hoo-Ha! Festival

If you haven’t been to Hoo-Ha! Festival, you haven’t experienced our Foyer in its finest form with music, messiness and merry-making! We love Hoo-Ha, our festival programmed for young people and families, and when it’s in full flow the atmosphere in the Foyer is brilliant. Since 2015 we’ve presented performances from Kid Carpet, Lilliput Concerts, Dick & Dom, Andy Day, The Fantasy Orchestra, Flying Seagull Project and everyone’s favourite party starters Junior Jungle Rave.

Bristol Takeover, Sat 7 Oct 2017 & Sat 27 Apr 2019

In 2017, as part of Colston Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations, we hosted a one day mini festival celebrating some of the best of Bristol’s talent featuring This Is The Kit, Girl Ray, Beth Rowley, Pinch, OM Unit, Moonflowers and loads more. Every space of our building complex from the main hall, to the old box office and of course our Foyer was filled with 10 hours of brilliant live music.

This year, following the success of 2017, we brought the festival back with even more free live music on stages throughout our Foyer. As a PRS Foundation Talent Development partner, the foyer is the perfect space for supporting emerging artists and at Bristol Takeover 2019 we showcased the best Bristol has to offer with stages hosted by some outstanding home-grown brands including Bristol In Stereo, Breakfast Records, Saffron Records, BIMM and Multi-Track.

Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival

In 2012 the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival was born out of a longing to present a high calibre festival dedicated to jazz and blues and continue Bristol’s long association with the genres. Each year the festival has grown and grown and some of our favourite moments have been the free Foyer performances that attract hundreds of you each year.

The Pineapple Project, Thu 22 Nov 2018

In 2018, we commissioned artist Savinder Bual to form an orchestra like no other. Working with collaborators, a composer and people from across Bristol, Savinder created a number of visually striking instruments played with spinning pineapple tops. When bowed, the pineapple top spun and its leaves plucked the strings to create sound.

The project was a unifying and playful artistic response to the decision to reopen Colston Hall in 2021 with a new name, exploring the links between the little-known colonial history of the Pineapple, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and what it means today for us to join together in a space and create music.

It culminated in a free public performance in Colston Hall’s Foyer where we all gathered to witness the strange and wonderful instruments in action.

Purple Rain Afterparty, Sun 13 Nov 2016

To celebrate the music and life of one of the greatest pop musicians of his generation, we screened the 1984 classic Purple Rain in partnership with Watershed and Come the Revolution as part of the BFI BlackStar season and in honour of the ultimate sexy MF: Prince. After the credits rolled we threw a Prince Party in our Foyer with the one and only DJ Norman Jay MBE. Dressed head to toe in purple, you all came out to impress!

BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Feb 2016

In 2016 we hosted the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival including performances from Underworld, Laura Marling, White Denim, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Blanck Mass and countless others.

One of our favourite moments was Bristol legend Roni Size throwing an amazing drum ‘n’ bass set in our Foyer right before headliners Underworld took to the stage – what an atmosphere!

Outlook Orchestra Afterparty, Fri 21 Jul 2017

We’ve hosted some brilliant Harbourside shows over the years with Goldie, New Order and The Specials. And after the sun goes down we’ve made a tradition of hosting some of the best after-parties across all floors of our Foyer.

In 2017, following Outlook Orchestra feat. Roots Manuva, we threw an after-party lasting into the wee small hours with Brazilian Drum ‘n’ Bass legend DJ Marky with special guests Pharoahe Monch and Horace Andy.

Colston Hall 150 Birthday, Wed 20 Sep 2017

A real high point in the history of the Foyer has to be our 150th birthday bash in 2017. With a fabulous free party, we celebrated 15 decades of spectacular live music with performances from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Bristol Ensemble, The Bruce / Ilet Big Band, Wanted Records’ DJ John Stapleton to name a few.

As well as the music, we loved the amazing mural of musical icons created by Voyder and Upfest who have all performed at the hall.

More than just music

Music is at the heart of everything we do, but our Foyer is also a space that welcomes exhibitions, conferences, gift fairs and public art.

If you’ve ever seen a foyer performance, you will have noticed the beautiful wooden permanent art installation created by Matthew Harris is 2009 just before our opening. If you’re a frequent visitor, you might have also noticed the badge wall on next to our Level 1 Bar created by Michael Brennand-Wood. And, if you can cast your memory back far enough, you may even recall the Colston Hall Horn?

Record Fairs, Made In Bristol Gift Fairs, Community Days…even blood donation, they’re all part of the vibrant history of our Foyer.

Come and use our space

The Hall is more than a music venue, it’s a place for Bristolians to meet, rehearse and perform. We want to make sure that we’re at the heart of Bristol’s creative life, by making sure we are meeting the needs of our communities.

To do this we are open to Bristol’s artists, community groups, clubs and societies to use the foyer space – this is your hall.

From regular meetings, to events and rehearsals, these spaces are here for you to use in creative ways. If you are an artist or part of a community group and have an idea for an event you would like to hold at the foyer, please give us all the details in the form available to download below. Or if you’d like to talk to us about an idea or potential partnership, email us at community@colstonhall.org

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