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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

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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.

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