NEWPORT city centre seemed to be busier than ever today as a family-friendly free weekend festival returned after a coronavirus-enforced absence.

Big Splash festival – organised by Newport Live and Riverfront Theatre - is back.

The two-day festival returned to Newport city centre today - Saturday, July 23 - and will continue tomorrow (Sunday, July 24).

The family friendly festival – which is free to attend – had, like many other events, been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, today marked a triumphant return, with the various attractions proving a hit with kids of all ages - even humble reporters.

Events included:

  • Street theatre;
  • Busking;
  • Workshops;
  • Arts and crafts;
  • Even a funfair.

There were also pop-up performances along the river walkway near the Riverfront Theatre, Commercial Street and John Frost Square.

Plus, the Riverfront Theatre itself had been transformed into a family hub – Splashtonbury – encouraging the whole family to get involved in the arts and creativity.

Big Splash Busk also returned to Le Pub, on High Street, with a packed-out bill as part of the festivities.

Wandering through the city today, it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement - bumping into a giant animatronic hippo, stopping to listen to some steel drums and even witnessing some dinosaurs throwing shapes on Commercial Street.

This reporter also woefully failed at winning a giant octopus prize on what seemed a relatively simple darts game near the footbridge opposite Friars Walk.

The Riverfront’s head of theatre, arts and culture, Gemma Durham, said: “We are all so excited to see Big Splash return.

“We are so grateful to the funders and partners who make it possible.”

Kevin Ward, who manages Newport Now BID which is a sponsor for the festival, said: “We’re delighted to be involved with Big Splash again – it’s one of the key events in the city centre calendar and brings much-needed footfall into the area.

“The festival has been greatly missed the last couple of years so it’s wonderful to see it return.”

Big Splash 2022 is funded through Arts Council Wales and Newport Live, along with sponsorship from Newport Now BID and Friars Walk.

Centre Director at Friars Walk, Simon Pullen, said they are “delighted” to be involved again.