Painting the town: Bristol’s urban street art festival

More than 300 graffiti artists and illustrators will visit Bristol this weekend to attend annual urban street art festival Upfest.

More than 300 graffiti artists and illustrators will visit Bristol this weekend for free annual urban street art festival Upfest.

From May 25-27, artists from Europe, Asia, the US and Africa will paint 20,000 square feet of artwork on boards, buildings, a subway train and a skate park in Bedminster, south Bristol.

Events will take place on North Street and at Raleigh Road venue The Tobacco Factory (home to a market, cafe and creative spaces), which will host RnB, beatbox and hip hop performances as well as a live illustration battle and a graffiti workshop for children and adults.

The festival is raising funds for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) and is sponsored by art pen makers POSCA. Artists attending include Faith47 from South Africa, DALeast of China, C215 from France and Italy’s Peeta.

Upfest started six years ago as a paint jam between a small group of artists. As word of mouth spread, so did the number involved. “There hasn’t been masses of publicity about the event – it’s mostly been artists telling each other and the number has grown to around 320 this year,” says founder Stephen Hayles.

As it got bigger, we thought it would be nice to help raise the profile of NACOA and hopefully raise some money,” he adds.

Most local residents are positive about the festival, says Hayles, and its success has helped Bedminster secure a place on Mary Portas’s pilot high street renovation scheme.

Not everyone likes it, but it brings more people to Bedminster and even those who don’t like all of the artwork appreciate the talent and creativity it takes to paint a 30-metre high building,” he adds.

For details visit

Images (from top): art by Soulful Crew, Soker, Lokie and Inkie created at last year’s Upfest. Photography by Paul Green.

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