Features / Bristol

20 things to look forward to in Bristol in 2020

By martin booth, Wednesday Dec 18, 2019

What does the first year of the new decade have in store for Bristol? Here are just a few of the top things to look forward to during 2020:

1. A House Through Time on BBC Two

Bristol24/7 understands that a house in Redcliffe will be featured when A House Through Time comes to Bristol

A House Through Time on BBC Two uses painstaking detective work including genealogical records, contemporary documents and expert witnesses to tell the story of one house’s residents across the centuries. The third series is coming to Bristol this year, presented by historian David Olusoga.

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2. Ashton Gate summer gigs

The first of this summer’s shows at Ashton Gate Stadium was recently announced to be The Killers on June 9, supported by the Manic Street Preachers. Expect more lineup announcements soon.

3. The return of Mayfest

Pandora by Le Gateau Chocolat promises to be “a one-man musical phenomenon”

After a fallow year in 2019, Mayfest return this year with the shows announced so far all blazing a trail for exceptional, brave artists using music and theatre to explore raw and autobiographical truths.

4. The Book of Mormon at the Hippodrome

The outrageous musical comedy from the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Bobby Lopez, co-writer of Avenue Q and Frozen, follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries. It comes to the Hippodrome from January 15 to February 22.

5. Eat Drink Bristol Fashion comes to Castle Park

Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2020 organisers, from left to right: Tom Paine (Team Love), Josh Eggleton (The Pony & Trap), Penny Warner (Team Love), Luke Hasell (Story / Valley Fest) and Dave Harvey (Team Love) – photo by Matt Gutteridge

One of Bristol’s best chefs is joining forces with the organisers of one of the city’s most popular festivals for a weekend of food and music. Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2020 will be organised by Josh Eggleton and Luke Hasell; alongside Team Love, the festival and event production company behind Love Saves The Day and The Downs Festival. It takes place in Castle Park on May 2 and 3.


Read more: Eat Drink Bristol Fashion to return in 2020 as new food and music festival


6. Belly Laughs takes over restaurants across the city

Belly Laughs sees comedy hosted in unexpected places, including Box E in Wapping Wharf

Belly Laughs is a series of comedy shows in independent restaurants, cafes and bars across Bristol. All proceeds will go to the Julian Trust night shelter. Shows are taking place this month, with the inimitable Mark Olver once again using his unrivalled contacts book of comedians.

7. England vs Australia at the County Ground

The England cricket team will head to Bristol for a one-day international against Australia at the County Ground on July 16. England will play six tests, six one-day internationals and six T20 matches this summer, facing Australia, the West Indies, Pakistan and Ireland.

8. Cargo offers an alternative narrative to the story of the transatlantic slave trade

Cargo is a new immersive multi-media experience that will offer an alternative narrative to the story of the transatlantic slave trade. Stories will be depicted in images and in poetry by Lawrence Hoo, providing an accurate historical account of the fight for the freedom of the enslaved.

9. Anniversaries

After spending more than 30 years scuttled in the Falkland Islands, the SS Great Britain returned across the Atlantic Ocean; after which it was refloated and towed up the River Avon and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge on July 5 1970 before returning to her birthplace of the Great Western Dockyard on July 19 – photo courtesy of the SS Great Britain Trust

2020 is – among others – the 50th anniversary of the return to Bristol of the SS Great Britain, the 50th anniversary of BBC Radio Bristol and the 150th anniversary of Gloucestershire CCC.


Read more: Your chance to be among first for 100 years to sleep on board SS Great Britain


10. We The Curious prepares to be transformed

An idea of what We The Curious could look like

This year is set to be the biggest year to date for We The Curious. The centre’s ground floor will be transformed between the summer and autumn, culminating with an a new exhibition called Project What If, based on more than 10,000 questions from the people of Bristol.

11.  Kokoroko at Trinity

London’s newest afrobeat innovators take the spirit of West African experimentation and fuse it with the UK’s leading jazz community. Featuring trumpet, saxophone, trombone, guitar, keys, bass and a whole range of percussion. Catch Kokoroko at Trinity on January 29.

12.  Slapstick Festival provides even more laughs

Writer, director, comedian and actor Stephen Merchant hosts Slapstick’s annual celebration of Laurel and Hardy

Bristol’s very own Stephen Merchant joins this year’s Slapstick Festival lineup, with a programme from January 18 to 26 bursting at the seams with scintillating one-off comedy events.

13.  Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

Emily Koch is an award-winning former Bristol Post journalist and graduate of the Bath Spa Creative Writing programme

Bristol author Emily Koch’s new novel is published on March 19. Keep Him Close is about the uneasy friendship that forms between a woman whose son has died and the mother of the boy accused of his murder. Familiar locations include Gloucester Road, and the pubs and bars around the city centre.

14. Bristol’s third mayoral election

Candidates at Bristol’s mayoral election in 2016

Bristol goes to the polls on May 7 to elect a mayor for the third time. Candidates so far are Christine Townsend (independent), Marvin Rees (Labour), Mary Page (Lib Dem), Samuel Williams (Conservative) and Sandy Hore-Ruthven (Green). Bristol24/7 will be hosting a hustings at the Colston Hall on April 30.

15.  Ubu! – an improvised promenade musical

“Expect world-class buffoonery in this deliriously unhinged improvised promenade musical (surely the first of its kind!)”, promise the team from Kneehigh. Catch Ubu! at the Marble Factory from January 8 to 25.

16. Artist Residence opens at last

Artist Residence’s fifth hotel will open in a former boot factory

Located in a formerly dilapidated building on Portland Square in St Paul’s, Artist Residence is due to open in February as a 23-bedroom hotel and “neighbourhood hangout” with coffee shop, bar, kitchen, event space and garden.


Read more: A first glimpse into Portland Square’s new boutique hotel


17.  Woky Fest returns to Wapping Wharf

Woky Fest has become an annual tradition at Wapping Wharf

January 25 sees the start of the Chinese year of the rat, the first of all zodiac animals. Look forward to the return of Woky Fest at Wapping Wharf to see in the Chinese New Year in style at a date still to be confirmed, with Asian street food, music and a traditional Chinese lion dance.

18.  Mark Rylance at Bristol Old Vic

The esteemed actor will be treading the boards as part of the theatre’s Year of Artists. Rylance will make his Bristol Old Vic debut in Semmelweis, a world premiere based on the true story of Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, a radical creative of the medical profession who rejected received wisdom.

19. Strange Brew opens

A derelict space underneath a multi-storey car park in the city centre could become Bristol’s newest music venue. A crowdfunding campaign from local promoters Dirtytalk was launched last year in support of Strange Brew on Fairfax Street.

20. Bristol & Bath Railway Path improvements

In its 40th anniversary year, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path is set to receive major improvements. A £1.1m investment by the Department of Transport will aim to benefit both pedestrians and cyclists on a stretch of the popular path between Fishponds and its start in St Philip’s.

Read more: 13 new food and drink openings to look forward to in Bristol in 2020

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