Mayfest 2022 Bristol: what is it, date of festival, how to get tickets and full list of shows

The biggest celebration of contemporary theatre in the UK kicks off this month, adopting a new ‘Pay What You Can’ model to make the festival more affordable.

After a short break, Mayfest is finally making a return to Bristol in 2022.

This cross-city celebration brings attention to the diverse community of Bristol and everyone connected to performative arts.

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Here is everything you need to know about Mayfest 2022.

What is Mayfest?

Mayfest is Bristol’s annual festival that is best known for presenting contemporary theatre, as well as dance, experimental and interactive theatre.

The festival has played host to some of the greatest national, international and local artists, especially over the last 12 years.

Previously featuring the likes of National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre Wales, The Suitcase Royale and many others.

Mayfest was established in 2003 and was taken on as an independent venture by Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin in 2007.

It receives funding from Arts Council England and is co-produced by Bristol Old Vic Theatre

When is Mayfest 2022?

World Theatre Day in Bristol is easy, as we’re spoiled for amazing venues such as The Bristol Old Vic

After a two-year hiatus due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayfest is back with a bang in 2022.

Mayfest is set to start on Friday, 13 May and ends on Sunday, 29 May.

It is run across various venues across the city of Bristol, including the following:

  • Bristol Old Vic Theatre - King Street, BS1 4ED
  • Circomedia - Portland Square, St Paul’s, BS2 8SJ
  • Arnolfini - 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA
  • Tobacco Factory Theatre - Southville, BS3 1TF
  • Trinity Centre - St Jude’s, BS2 0NW
  • The Mount Without - Upper Church Lane, BS2 8FN
  • The Galleries - Broadmead, BS1 3XA
  • St Anne’s House - Brislington, BS4 4AB
  • The Cube - Dove Street South, BS2 8JD
  • College Green

How can I get tickets to Mayfest 2022?

Every single show in the Mayfest 2022 programme adopts the new ‘Pay What You Can’ model as a way to make the event more affordable for people.

Each performance will have a ‘recommended price’ attached, which if you are able to afford to pay, allows the festival to sell tickets to those whose circumstances mean a lower price is more realistic.

There is a minimum price point of £1 per ticket for every performance.

The event also offers a ‘Supporters’ Pass’ which allows you to experience the whole of Mayfest under one ticket - it is priced at £15o per person, with the money directly supporting the artists and freelancers who are working during the two-week festival.

For more information and to book a ticket for a Mayfest 2022 event, please visit the official website.

In a statement, MAYK (the organisers of Mayfest) said: “We believe everyone should have access to brilliant theatre and live performance,”

“Through removing ticket price as a barrier we hope to open up the festival to a wider audience than ever before.

“The past two years have been difficult for everyone financially,” it reads.

“People have lost work, seen their industries decimated, and experienced income decline whilst at the same time being squeezed by the spiralling cost of living.

“At a time when life can seem more atomised and isolating than ever, we want Mayfest 2022 to be an opportunity for people to gather and experience the joy of being together, regardless of financial circumstances.

“We are inviting everyone to make a decision on how much to pay based on what they can afford and their own financial circumstances.’

What is the show lineup for Mayfest 2022?

Ahead of the event commencing later this month, a programme featuring 18 different shows over the two-week festival has been announced - featuring everything that contemporary theatre has to offer.

Here is the full lineup of shows during Mayfest 2022:

  • Polyphony - an audio-immersive installation, from 12 May to 29 May at The Galleries
  • Birthmarked - a story about a young gay Jehovah’s Witness coming to terms with his identity, from 13 May to 21 May at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
  • Mayfest Opening Party - live music and DJs at this dance party, on Friday, 13 May from 9 pm until late at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
  • Exposure - tender conversations about health professionals during the pandemic, from 14 May to 15 May at Arnolfini
  • The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than It’s Map - a walking tour delving deep into the history of Bristol, from 14 May to 22 May in Bristol City Centre
  • Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival - an intellectual portrait of science and technology scholar Donna Haraway, on 18 May at St Anne’s House
  • A Crash Course in Cloudspotting - an audio journey exploring human connection, from 18 May to 28 May at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
  • Miracle on 42nd Street - a one-hour documentary based in New York City, on 19 May at St Anne’s House
  • Be Part Of - a ‘world premiere’ explorative theatre performance, from 19 May to 21 May at The Trinity Centre
  • Communion: Night One, Two and Three - a deep exploration of several themes, featuring six artists and choreography, from 19 May to 20 May at The Mount Without
  • As British As A Watermelon - a writer and performer pieces together a life forgotten in the name of survival, on 23 May at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
  • Terra Coda - a ‘world premiere’ show that is a love letter to planet Earth, from 24 May to 26 May at The Mount Without
  • Demostage - a North-South space for new ideas, on 25 may available online
  • Mayfest Shorts - an evening dedicated to celebrating the new adventures that performance-makers have taken into film making, on 26 May at The Cube
  • Habitat - a ‘UK premiere’ that is dubbed ‘a hymn to the naked body’, from 28 May to 29 May at The Galleries
  • Rallying Cry\ - this ‘world premiere’ is an afternoon chat with brilliant Bristolians, on 29 May at College Green