The annual Simmer Down Festival returns this weekend to Handsworth Park in Birmingham with a promise to deliver an exciting programme of music and activities for all the family.

The sun is out, the summer is here, and the holiday season is in full swing – as revellers prepare to descend on one of Birmingham’s popular parks for an intense day of music, dance, food, drink culture, and incredible performances from some of the biggest reggae stars around!

It’s time to welcome Birmingham’s biggest outdoor free music festival. The Simmer Down Festival banners and posters have been spotted across the city these past few weeks, with names such as Pato Banton and Horace Andy who will be performing at the festival.

Handsworth Park will be prepared with several stages to welcome some legendary performers of reggae music on Sunday 21st July.

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Sun, smiles, music, and the diversity of Birmingham during the Simmer Down Festival

The festival always attracts huge crowds from around the city and it is the perfect place to see the beautiful cultural diversity of Birmingham.

Last year’s event was a huge success which attracted people from all over the city for a day of music and celebration.

Reggae music has that unique vibe which breaks down social and cultural barriers and unites people.

Many legends of reggae, and also those inspired by reggae music, have previously performed upon the Crucials Stage at the Simmer Down Festival including Freddie McGregor, Steel Pulse, The Sahotas, Maxi Priest, Myki Tuff, Apache Indian, Inner Circle, and the late Michael Prophet.

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Freddie McGregor, a legend of reggae music, produced a mesmerising performance at a previous Simmer Down Festival

The performances at the Simmer Down Festival are often electrifying and full of passion and more of the same is expected on Sunday. A wide range of popular and upcoming artists will be giving it their all as they take to the various stages around Handsworth Park.

The headline acts will grace the Crucials Stage and keep the Simmer Down audience dancing and swaying into the evening as the sun begins to lower into the horizon. The show-stopping Steel Pulse performance in 2014 is still remembered vividly by festival goers who attended Simmer Down that year.

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Steel Pulse performing at the Simmer Down Festival in 2014

Simmer Down Festival 2019

The Simmer Down Festival comes to the beautiful setting of Handsworth Park on Sunday 21st July from 12.30pm to 8pm, with this year’s headline acts including  Johnny Clarke and Horace Andy backed by the incredible Dub Asante Band, and a welcome return from Birmingham star Pato Banton.

The festival always delivers the goods when it comes to quality music, excellent sound systems, and performers who go over and beyond the call of duty to enure the audience have a memorable time.

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Myki Tuff in mid flow during the Simmer Down Festival

Now in its ninth year, the free open-air event is one of the largest music and arts festivals in the UK.

It draws interest from local and international artists who want to perform there, the atmosphere at this unique festival is always friendly and relaxed.

There is a carnival atmosphere in Handsworth Park on the day the Simmer Down Festival opens the doors and welcomes the people to the festival. The local community spirit adds to the ambiance of the festival.

People travel from all parts of the country to attend the festival and enjoy the arts, crafts, food and drink on offer throughout the day.

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The Simmer Down Festival brings out the people of Handworth for a day of sizzling music

Celebrating Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity and the city’s unique reggae legacy, the festival offers fun for all the family including live performances, art workshops, participation activities, children and young people’s meadow area, plus craft and food stalls and a licensed bar area.

Every year the organisers add more exciting activities and artists to the festival to make it more diverse to reflect the diversity of Birmingham.

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Mukhtar Dar, Festival Director of Simmer Down Festival, hopes this annual event brings unity and harmony

Commenting on this year’s upcoming event, festival director Mukhtar Dar told I Am Birmingham:

“We are delighted to confirm Jamaica’s ‘Foundation’ roots reggae legends Johnny Clarke and Horace Andy backed by the incredible Dub Asante Band.

“In addition, we have the homecoming of Pato Banton, who returns to Birmingham after 10 years. He will be joined by his friends for a very special performance plus a massive line up Birmingham based artists.

“So make sure you’re down for the best free party of the summer!”

Inner Circle reggae band at Simmer Down Festival 2018 in Handsworth park in Birmingham UKLensi Photography / I Am Birmingham
Reggae band Inner Circle performing at Simmer Down Festival 2018

“The spirit of this festival has always been about a shared humanity.

“No matter how divided the world is, I firmly believe in the healing and redemptive power of music to bring people together and break down racial and social barriers.

“If you take a walk around Handworth Park during the Simmer Down Festival you will see people standing together as one, smiling and talking, some sharing a drink, and on the stage the artists use their musical gifts to move the hearts and minds of the audience in a positive way.

“This is a festival of diversity. The beauty and harmony of this city is right here. Families, friends, couples, everyone mingles and has a good time.”

Pato Banton returns to Birmingham for Simmer Down Festival 2019Handout
Pato Banton returns to Birmingham for Simmer Down Festival 2019

Expressing his gratitude to the festival organizer, Pato Banton said:

“I would like to thank the festival organisers for inviting me.

“I’ve put together a special set and will be dedicating my debut performance at ‘Simmer Down’ to my mother.

“There’s a real buzz building up. I’ve been inundated with messages from my fans and I can’t wait to meet them all including my friends and family.”

Shiny happy people at Simmer Down Festival 2018 in BirminghamLensi Photography / I Am Birmingham
Revellers enjoying Simmer Down Festival last year

Funded by Arts Council England, the Simmer Down Festival attracts over 22,000 diverse family audiences from across Birmingham and the region.

As one of the biggest and most diverse festivals in the UK, it is firmly rooted in its local community and delivered in partnership with local community organisations, individuals and mainstream arts organisations.

The Simmer Down Festival has a lot more going on than meets the eye at first glance.

The vast space of Handsworth Park is put to good use as it plays host to unique performances spread across the park.

The programme is delivered across three stages, including the bandstand and marquees, and consists of live music, dance, spoken word, plus educational workshops and participation activities.

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There are several different stages at the Simmer Down Festival which offers local artists a platform

In addition, there is a dedicated young people’s programme in the Children’s Meadow area alongside a number of fun activities for all the family including face paintings, small rides, a community cricket match and a selection of belly-busting food stalls offering a diverse range of treats from across the city.

There will be  a wide range of stalls set out across Handsworth Park selling everything from fashion and accessories, shoes, paintings, and exotic confectionery.

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Birmingham based and international musicians and session players take part at the Simmer Down Festival

This year the Simmer Down Festival has partnered with the Handsworth 10k Running Group to create the ‘Crucial Mile Fun Run’ which seeks to raise awareness of health and wellbeing amongst the festival revellers.

The organizers try to balance the music with community causes and health issues that are often not discussed such as prostrate cancer.


The main stage line-up for this year’s festival includes:

  • Johnny Clarke
  • Horace Andy
  • Dub Asante Band
  • Pato Baton & Friends
  • JK & the Goldmind Band
  • Afromanding
  • Amy G
  • A Doubles
  • Rock N’ Dhol
  • Commonwealth Drum Orcehstra
  • Jbeatz0121
  • Darshae
  • Ashley Zeal
  • Tony Roots
  • Ranking (Gatecrash)
Brummies and visitors of all backgrounds come to Handsworth for Simmer Down Festival Rangzeb Hussain
Brummies and visitors of all backgrounds come to Handsworth for Simmer Down Festival

Jesse Gerald, Chair of Simmer Down Festival, said:

“‘Simmer Down’ has grown to become the biggest free reggae festival in the UK. This is due to the support of our artists, audiences, Arts Council and our sponsors Crucial Sauce, Prostate Cancer UK and TLG Management.

“As part of Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022, we’ve commissioned a piece called the ‘Commonwealth Drum Orchestra’ and will be paying our part to ensure that ‘Simmer Down’ is central to the cultural programme”.

Simmer Down Festival 2019 official publicity flyerSimmer Down Festival
This year’s Simmer Down takes place on Sunday 21st July

Simmer Down Festival is a FREE event and will take place in Handsworth Park on Sunday 21st July from 12:30pm-8:00pm. For more details about artists and information about the festival, including updates, please visit: www.simmerdownfestival.com and the event’s Facebook page here.

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