Independent Art Voice

Banksy Hometown Plays Host To Europe’s Largest Urban Paint Festival


Upfest, Europe’s largest Urban Paint Festival takes place this weekend (25th – 27th 2013) in Banksy’s hometown Bristol. It features over 300 artists painting 30 thousand square feet of artwork on boards, streets, and many other surfaces. Upfest was created in 2008 between three crazy but art loving individuals. Inspired by Super Cans (Southampton),  Cans Festival (London) and the growing number of paint jams around the UK, Upfest was born.

Upfest was originally conceived to get a group of 20 like minded artists together for a day of painting here in Bristol, however the first festival quickly grew to 50 artists once the word was out. It also help that one of the organiser had just been made redundant for the second time in 8 months and had too much time on his hands, after securing (through a few white lies) a fantastic Bristol venue, the Tobacco Factory, the first Upfest took place in October 2008.

2009 saw Upfest quickly return for the first weekend in June, which has become the annual date in Upfest diary for the festival, this festival took a huge leap to 150 artists painting over seven venues around Bristol. ’09 also saw Upfest curate it’s first group shows and went down the road to London and took over the Muse Gallery in Portobello for Urban Riddle and Urban Scrawl. Somewhere in the middle of this we had the wacky idea of attending the ideal home show and grand designs, we’re unlikely to do that again but that’s another story.

The summer of ’09 introduced Upfest to Upfest on tour, this is now becoming an integral part to the Upfest calender but in our first year we ventured to Nass sports festival and Boardmasters surf festival, each time gathering the troops of ten to fifteen artists and putting their skillz on display. Thanks to builder dude and his merry men we built a church at Nass festival and beach huts at Boardmasters, these were then impressively painted throughout the few days at the festivals.  

The winter of ’09 was a bit of a blur, setting up a temporary home at the Wilder Gallery in St Pauls, plans were put in place for Upfest to put  it’s name on the map with Upfest’10.

After 280 registrations, consolidation of venues, bigger kids area, inside illustration zone and the Secret Wars guys came on board to create the battle of the year hosted by the UK beatboxing champion Reeps One. With the weather on our side and both inside and outside music stages at full volume the 5th and 6th of June saw South Bristol turn in to the place to be for all things street for 48hrs of ‘Live’ Urban and Contemporary Art.         

Over the last three festivals Upfest has worked with a local charity called Nacoa, this amazing charity support many children across the UK, who live with alcohol or drug dependant family members. We would like to thank all the artists that attend for helping us raise over £15,000 so far for Nacoa and just as important, raise awareness of the vital work they do. Lastly, Upfest would not in anyway be possible without all the volunteers that muck in to get Upfest ready and supervise the weekend, you know who you are and your all legends.

This year the festival features a selection of the biggest names in international graffiti culture will be taking to the streets of Bristol from a total of 50 countries. The international line up includes artists such as DALeast (China), Faith47 (South Africa), C215 (France), Peeta (Italy) as well as Bristol natives Turroe and Inkie.


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