Summer in Bristol means one thing: festivals. Yes, the city knows how to throw a good party, and this summer promises to be as exciting as ever! You can find the full line-up of Bristol’s festivals here, but read on for a quick and easy guide to the biggest, can’t-miss events for your calendar.
Saturday 6 July, free to attend
St Pauls Carnival is a huge, annual celebration of Afro Caribbean culture in Bristol that has been running since 1968. There is a parade through St Paul’s in central Bristol, with dancers and floats and performers, followed by lots of other events throughout the day. Get down there to experience the music, the food and the intoxicating atmosphere of one of Bristol’s biggest street parties! Be sure to follow the Carnival Twitter account for the latest updates.
1-14 July, wristbands from £7
Bristol’s yearly celebration of the LGBT+ community returns this summer, and this time it’s being held on the Downs, which means it will be bigger than ever before! There are two weeks of Pride events during July, from music to film to comedy, all culminating in Pride Day on Saturday 13th. Pride Day will see a march through the city centre, followed by a party on the Downs, with acts including Boney M, Mel C and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Get your rainbow flags out for this one!
Throughout July, ticketed events
If you’re a fan of the Bard, this festival is definitely the place for you. Throughout July, numerous theatre companies, big and small, will put on performances of Shakespeare’s plays, often with a twist. There’s a walkabout performance on board the SS Great Britain, a musical version of Macbeth and a retelling of Henry V dictated by the flip of a coin. Other events include theatre workshops for kids, so the whole family can get involved with the fun.
19-21 July, free to attend
Get down to Bristol’s harbourside for a celebration of all things maritime at the Harbour Festival. As well as your usual festival fare – live dance, music and circus acts, food stalls and family and craft activities – this festival plays host to all sorts of exciting events on the water. Step aboard some of the ships and boats moored in the harbour, or watch spectacular watersports demonstrations. The festival takes over the city centre for a weekend, so if you want to go along you’re bound to find something fun to do!
8-11 August, free to attend
Once again, the skies above Bristol will be filled with hot air balloons as more than 130 balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the air. Go along to the festival site in Ashton Court for food, fairground rides and entertainment for all ages, and don’t miss the highlight of the four-day event: the evening light shows and fireworks. This year the organisers are running a campaign to get a Bristol-made Darth Vader balloon to fly at the festival, and there’s still time to donate on the website if you’d like to see him there!
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