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Images have been released of Bristol Beacon during the final stages of its £132m renovation, before the concert hall reopens in November.

Bristol Beacon main auditorium under renovation in September 2023
The main auditorium now has capacity for 2,920 and features two tier balcony seating with fabric designed by artist Rana Begum

Bristol Beacon

Images have been released showing the final stages of reconstruction of Bristol Beacon, which has undergone a significant renovation costing an estimated £132m.

Formerly known as Colston Hall, the concert venue closed ahead of the overhaul in 2018. It’s now scheduled to reopen on 30 November, following over one million hours of work on-site since the project began.

Architecture practice Levitt Bernstein led the redesign of the building’s three performance spaces, restaurant and rear-of-house areas. The Beacon will also feature a music education centre, which will provide lessons to 1,800 children with special educational needs and disabilities each year and lifelong learning opportunities to a further 5,000 people.


When it reopens, the hall is anticipated to hold 800 events annually, with audience numbers predicted to rise from 300,000 to 500,000 a year.

Bristol Beacon Chief Executive Louise Mitchell said the transformation of the historic building had been “an epic project” throwing up  “complex” and “unforeseen challenges”.

She hailed the revamped venue, which has had its capacity increased from 2,400 to 2,920,  as "one of the best concert facilities in Europe" with a predicted boost to the local economy of £13m in its first year.

Bristol Beacon Lantern Hall The Lantern Space will house a new bar area and public atrium with tiled artwork by Giles Round. Photo:Bristol Beacon

Marvin Reese, Mayor of Bristol, alluded to difficulties in the project, which has been run by Bristol City Council, saying it was a “journey that’s taken many twists and turns along the way."

“Challenges in the shape of a building filled with unknown complexities and hidden secrets, a global pandemic, national cost-of-living crisis and the pressure this is putting on the construction industry, have all been navigated to get to this point,” said Reese.

He added the completed venue will “support over 270 jobs, generate over a quarter of a billion pounds of economic benefit for our local economy, and spearhead a social investment in our city’s communities through a high-quality music education centre and programme".

Spiralling costs

Bristol Beacon is owned by the council, but operated by the music education charity Bristol Music Trust, which has a 30-year lease arrangement with no break clause.

The initial budget for the project was £49m, of which £10m came from Bristol City Council. But projected costs have risen significantly since then and now stand at £131.9m, with £83.9m coming from the council and £44m - including £22m contributed by Arts Council England - raised by Bristol Music Trust.

Earlier this year, external auditors Grant Thornton criticised BCC for “underestimating the complexity and difficulty” of the project, resulting in the spiralling costs, and called on the local authority to issue a report on lessons learned before the completion of the building. In August, Bristol City Council confirmed it will miss a deadline for the report, which will not be published until February 2024

A headshot of Mary Stone