Dating back over a thousand years, Bristol is a city steeped in history, with ancient links to the sea and a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s most important trading ports. But despite its undeniable and important history, Bristol is not a city lost in its own past. Continuous urban renewal and a booming arts scene mean Bristol is a bustling, thriving city. It has produced the likes of graffiti behemoth Banksy, Wallace and Gromit, and trip-hop giants, Massive Attack.
If you haven’t been to Bristol, now is a good time to go. With summer approaching, the city has a spectacular line-up of events, as well as a host of other attractions within easy reach.
There are lots of accommodation options in Bristol, from budget hotels and B&B’s, to boutique hotels. The city gets very busy throughout the summer season, so remember to book Bristol hotels early if you’re visiting from out of town.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
The annual balloon fiesta is something of a unique event. Whether you’re a balloon enthusiast or not, you’ll love this free festival, which runs over four days in August and attracts half a million visitors to watch hundreds of hot air balloons taking off. As well as the chance to ride in a hot air balloon, there’s food, music, trading stalls and displays by the Red Arrows. It all takes place at the stunning Ashton Court Estate.
Bristol Harbour Festival
Deftly weaving Bristol’s maritime heritage with its modern status as a rich cultural hub, the Bristol Harbour Festival is Bristol’s biggest cultural event. The festival takes over the city centre for a free, three-day event, which attracts 250,000 visitors. It provides a range of entertainment for the whole family, as well as workshops, food, and the chance to gaze upon some of the finest marine vessels in the land. This year’s line-up is set to include performances by local and national acts.
A homage to the city’s thriving arts scene, Brisfest showcases some of the best homegrown music, comedy, street theatre and circus art. At the very end of the festival season in late September, Brisfest returns to its spiritual home at Ashton Court this year for a two-day event that hosts stand-up, theatre, workshops and music. In the four short years since it was founded, it’s grown to accommodate forty thousand visitors, but remains almost entirely run by volunteers. It’s a steal at £30 a ticket.