CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

What’s on this summer in Bristol

PUBLISHED: 15:45 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 26 June 2018

The city becomes awash with colour for the two weeks of Bristol Pride (c) Neil James Brain

The city becomes awash with colour for the two weeks of Bristol Pride (c) Neil James Brain


Bristol becomes more vibrant than ever in the summer with events, attractions and festivals galore

Summer is a time when cities come alive. Inhabitants and visitors alike flock to popular open spaces to soak up the sun, as well as the sights, sounds and atmosphere. Bristol is certainly no exception.

Known for its green spaces as well as historic and cultural attractions, visitors are drawn from near and far each summer to experience the multitude of spectacles that the city has to offer.

From Brunel’s magnificent suspension bridge that spans the Avon gorge, with Ashton Court, famous for its August International Balloon Fiesta on one side and Clifton Observatory and Bristol Zoo on the other, to the Grade II listed Cabot Tower set in the lush parkland of Brandon Hill and the medieval remains in Castle Park, nestled between the shopping quarter and harbourside.

Before we even mention the city’s many, beautiful green squares, Bristol has plenty of places to in which to linger when the summer comes and enjoy some outdoor fun.

This year’'s International Balloon Festival at Ashton Court will attract more than 130 balloons from around the globeThis year’'s International Balloon Festival at Ashton Court will attract more than 130 balloons from around the globe

Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo’s lovely 12-acre garden is where, as part of its Friday Twilights programme, you can explore the grounds and enjoy live music (and the occasional lion’s roar) as the sun sets.

Take to the water

Summer is the perfect time for exploring the city by boat too and the river and harbourside team with ferries you can hop on and off as the mood takes you. Why not head to Prince’s Wharf to jump aboard the Matthew, a modern reconstruction of the vessel that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497, to see the harbour in all its glory – you can even get fish and chips onboard. Or take a Bristol Packet boat from Wapping Wharf to visit Beese’s Riverside Bar set in a peaceful wooded stretch of the River Avon. On Fridays you can enjoy an evening cruise here with Bristol Ferry Boats from Welsh Back Landing to see live music, with drinks served at the onboard bar.

Bristol becomes more vibrant than ever in the summer with events, attractions and festivals galore (c) Paul BoxBristol becomes more vibrant than ever in the summer with events, attractions and festivals galore (c) Paul Box

Festival time

Nothing says summer quite like a festival, though, and Bristol boasts an extensive and eclectic programme. The famous Bristol Pride which champions equality and diversity and turns the harbourside into a riot of colour and music between July 2-15. Or there’s the Bristol Shakespeare Festival, which runs throughout July and features events and performances in alfresco and unusual spaces across the city.

The nautical-themed Harbour Festival takes over the harbourside, from July 21-23, a hugely popular free dance, music and arts extravaganza with a circus zone, dance tent, street vendors and much more.

A little more leftfield is Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, where between July 28-30 a total of 50 venues across Bedminster and Southville become legitimate canvases for those with a penchant for spray paint.

On August 4 Redfest, a community music and arts festival, returns to the Redfield area of east Bristol, and is expected to draw 10,000 people to St George’s Park, while the St Paul’s Carnival, a hugely popular multicultural jamboree, returns on July 7 after a three-year hiatus, in time for its 50th anniversary. Representing the best in Afro Caribbean culture, the carnival is one of the city’s most vibrant, diverse and creative festivals.

The Matthew, a working replica of a ship built half a millennium ago, is the perfect vessel for a nostalgia tripThe Matthew, a working replica of a ship built half a millennium ago, is the perfect vessel for a nostalgia trip

Sporting action

There is plenty of sporting action in the city this summer. The FIFA World Cup kicks off in June and there will be numerous pop-up screens from where to watch the drama unfold. Queen Square and Big Screen Bristol on Millennium Square will most likely turn into impromptu fan zones for the big games. If you’d rather experience some sporting action first hand why not head down to the first ever Power 8 Sprints event at Narrow Quay on July 22. Part of the Harbour Festival, it promises to be a high-octane day of racing as men’s and women’s teams of eight rowers from across the UK battle it out over short sprint courses.

Home to Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, the Brightside Ground in the north of the city hosts two highly anticipated one-day matches this summer – the T20 women’s tri-series pits England against Africa and New Zealand on June 28 and the men’s T20 team faces India on July 8.

In the name of charity

A returning Wallace and Gromit-themed art trail supports another good cause, The Grand Appeal, in aid of Bristol’s Children’s Hospice. In 2013 Gromit Unleashed decorated the streets of Bristol, home to creator Aardman Animations, with 80 colourful Gromit sculptures. Gromit Unleashed 2 will see 60 individually hand-painted sculptures of Gromit, his old pal Wallace and arch nemesis Feathers McGraw dotted across the city and with the help of pioneering technology companies promises to be the most innovative art trail yet.

Food and drink fun

If you are looking for something lively then head to The Radnor Rooms in St Nicholas St on June 2, July 7 or August 4 for Foozie’s Tropical Rooftop Brunch – a day-long dance party featuring DJs, Caribbean and Mediterranean BBQ and incredible views over Bristol.

No matter how you sample the city this summer, you’ll realise that Bristol has a character all of its own. Shaped by its unique history, landscape and most of all by its inhabitants, this ancient port on the banks of the River Avon is perhaps the most fascinating and vibrant city in the south west, and it only seems to become more so during the summer months.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Somerset Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Somerset Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Somerset Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Simone Stanbrook-Byrne explores two villages on the Mendip Hills and the tranquil paths that link them

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Whatever the season, we love exploring Portishead!

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Given to the people of Bath as a gift from a local benefactor 80 years ago, the tranquil Alice Park is thriving, as Chrissy Harris discovers

Read more
Friday, September 28, 2018

When a town can boast having three community orchards offering free fruit for all, you know you’ve arrived somewhere special. Laurence McJannet marches to Wellington for some culinary surprises

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

As the colder months draw in, and golden and red hues fill the trees, there’s nothing quite like gathering the family for a stroll through the countryside. Embrace the fresh air, wrap up warm and soak in the beauty of Somerset on these 10 autumn walks

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Steve Roberts traces the trials and tribulations behind the construction of a famous Bristol landmark

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

This month Andrea Cowan visits Withypool

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Crunchy leaves under foot, bracing walks in beautiful countryside and along the coast, cream teas in cosy tea rooms and charming pubs with roaring fireplaces – what’s not to love about autumn in the Somerset?

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A wander through Somerton’s streets reveals a perfectly preserved rural Somerset town, discovers Laurence McJannet

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Take a family walk in Watchet, exploring both town and countryside, with Simone Stanbrook-Byrne

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

From beautiful gardens to iconic attractions, fascinating museums to family-friendly theme parks, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to a family day out in Somerset

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There’s nothing more appealing than a row of picture-perfect properties in some of Somerset’s most beautiful locations. Which street is your favourite in the county?

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Steve Roberts steps back in time to see how the Monmouth Rebellion impacted on our county

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Stephen Roberts explores a Somerset manor house packed with centuries of history

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search