If you’re starting to think about New Year’s resolutions or make plans for 2017, make sure you’ve factored in Visit Bristol’s 117 things to do in Bristol.
The below guide is packed full of family days out, amazing experiences, iconic attractions, beautiful gardens, fantastic bars and restaurants, water activities, heritage and cultural activities, quirky things to do and lots more!
Let us know how many you manage to tick off…#BristolBucketList2017
Image - The Tourist by Jim Cossey
- Enter the Human Accumulator to learn about hydraulic power in just two minutes at Bristol’s newest attraction, Underfall Yard.
- Summon your inner Tigger at AirHop, the world’s biggest trampoline park, or flip out at Freedog Urban Activity Centre, which has its own Parkour Academy for learning cool new stunts.
- Weave in and out of the tree canopy on Westonbirt Arboretum’s Treetop Walkway and admire the colours of the season. In winter, see the trees lit up for an Enchanted Christmas.
- Get the kids outdoors and closer to nature at Bristol’s Wild Place Project wildlife park. For the ultimate adrenaline adventure try their Leap of Faith with seven different challenges on offer.
- Get silly at Colston Hall's Hoo-Ha! Festival, a week of energetic family-friendly shows and activities in August.
- Visit the revamped Marine Lake in the charming, traditional seaside town of Clevedon.
- At-Bristol Science Museum is packed with mind-blowing interactive exhibits for all ages, including the UK’s first 3D Planetarium. Take kids for an unforgettable day.
- Family-friendly Bristol Museum and Art Gallery houses world-class collections and dynamic exhibitions, this year including Pliosaur, an amazing dinosaur display.
- Families will love M Shed, an exciting museum that tells the story of Bristol and its people using interactive exhibits.
- Make like a Victorian sailor and climb the rigging with ‘Go Aloft!’ at Brunel’s ss Great Britain. Look out for the engineer, Brunel - he can sometimes be found roaming the great ship in his signature stove pipe hat.
- Swing alongside gibbons in Zooropia at Bristol Zoo Gardens – an aerial ropes course for adventurous types - and squeal with delight at Afia the baby gorilla.
- Pop down to Bristol Aquarium for fish-tastic fun.
- Bristol’s world-famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is a sight-seeing must. There’s also Clifton Observatory, Camera Obscura & Ghyston’s (the Giant) Caves, a lovely wooden play park and natural rock slide nextdoor.
- Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm over in Wraxall is home to big zoo animals.
- Spot oodles of birdlife at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre.
- Puxton Park and Avon Valley Wildlife Park are bursting at the seams with fun, family-friendly activities and adventures.
- To see farmyard animals in the city head to Windmill Hill City Farm, St Werburgh’s City Farm, Grimsbury Farm and Lawrence Weston Community Farm.
- The Bristol Hippodrome is one of the country's top, family-friendly theatres, which continues to stage major West End and Broadway productions.
- The Tobacco Factory Theatres stage Shakespeare, opera, Christmas shows, comedy, puppetry and dance. Shoppers and foodies will also love the Sunday morning market at the Tobacco Factory.
- Visit Britain’s most spectacular caves and legendary home of the infamous Witch of Wookey - Wookey Hole Cave and Attractions. The 19th Century Paper Mill houses the Victorian Penny Arcade, Magical Mirror Maze, Hall of Crazy Mirrors, Cave Museum, Pirate Zap Zone, Soft Play Areas, World of Miniature, Pirate Island Adventure Golf and much more.
- Go Ape! Fly down zip-wires, leap off the Tarzan Swing and tackle the crossings whilst relishing some of Britain’s most breath-taking scenery.
- Let the little ones run wild at Old Down Country Park or take the Farm Trail at Cattle Country. Moooo!
Image - All Together Now by Joshua Perrett
Parks & Gardens
- You’re never far from green space in Bristol, get the kids outdoors with a trip to one of the city’s 400 or so parks and gardens.
- Stroll along the Frome Valley Walkway which starts in Castle Park and connects to other parks along the river including Snuff Mills and Oldbury Court Estate.
- Eastville Park has its own fishing lake and wild flower meadows, Troopers Hill Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife. Stoke Park’s is grade II- listed.
- Head to The Downs for an ice cream by the Sea Walls end and stunning views of the Avon Gorge.
- Pop over Clifton Suspension Bridge and you’re in the gorgeous grounds of Ashton Court Mansion, check ahead to see if the miniature railway is running or spot deer in the park. Leigh Woods is over this side too.
- Blaise Castle has a fabulous play area for little ones, a ‘folly’ and beautiful mansion house to explore.
- Wander the beautiful gardens and grounds of the National Trust Tyntesfield Estate, Bristol Cathedral and The University of Bristol Botanic Garden.
- Roam medieval Berkeley Castle's beautiful estate, making sure to visit the magical Butterfly House.
- Perhaps your pooch fancies a spot of sightseeing too? Check out our ideas for dog-friendly things to do.
Image - Tyntesfield Estate by Paul Blakemore
Art & Culture
- Settle in for some theatre at Bristol Old Vic - the UK’s oldest working theatre.
- Take a street art tour around the city with expert guides, ‘Where the Wall’, or get stuck into a Graft graffiti workshop.
- Watch graffiti artists paint stunning giant murals on the buzzy café bars, shops and other buildings around Bedminster and North Street at Upfest from 28-30 July.
- Immerse yourself in provocative performance art at the In Between Time Bristol International Festival (IBT17) from 8-12 February.
- Brush up on your Shakespeare in some unusual spaces around Bristol including Brandon Hill bowling green and Redcliffe Caves, as part of the Bristol Shakespeare festival in July.
- The Old Market Assembly is Bristol’s newest and extremely affordable cultural venue with restaurant, café, bar, bakery, live music venue and newest home of the Wardrobe Theatre.
- Take in an independent film at Watershed.
- To totally satisfy your cinematic cravings in 2017, don't miss Bristol Film Festival (9-12 March) or Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival (19-24 September).
- The event that always makes Bristol laugh-out-loud in bleak January is the Silent Comedy Film Gala - Slapstick Festival, held at Colston Hall from 18-22 January. Come summer, Bristol Comedy Garden brings the giggles and guffaws to Queen Square.
- Indulge your thespian side at Mayfest, Bristol’s annual festival of contemporary and alternative theatre.
- View contemporary art down on the Harbourside at Arnolfini or Spike Island.
- In July be sure to catch The Other Art Fair, which features work from some of the most exciting emerging artists.
- Be inspired at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), England’s only regional Royal Academy of Art.
- Hidden away in Clifton, the Redgrave Theatre is one of Bristol’s most popular theatres hosting operas, musicals, stand-up comedy, theatre and dance.
Image - Local street artist Jody at Upfest
- Watch a live football or rugby game at Ashton Gate Stadium. Live sport is also shown in their Bristol Sports Bar & Grill, on the largest indoor pub screen in the country.
- Set out on a water sports adventure in Bristol’s beautiful and historic Harbour. It’s the perfect setting for learning to paddleboard, canoe or sail.
- Jog on - Bristol's half marathon and 10k are now part of the Great Run series.
- Experience some of the most naturally beautiful golf courses in the South West. Bristol is also home to the first indoor golf simulation facility in the South West, inPlay Golf.
- Climb! Bristol’s choice of rock-climbing opportunities include the limestone cliffs of the spectacular Avon Gorge and nearby Cheddar Gorge. Try Adventurous Activity Company or Cheddar Gorge X-treme or stay indoors at Redpoint Climbing Centre.
- Gloucestershire County Cricket hosts regular fixtures, including an England v Ireland One-Day International in May and the ICC Women's World Cup starting 26 June.
- Get active in 2017 to celebrate Bristol's year as the UK's European City of Sport. The compact city is a great place for runsploring, as well as all these other things.
Image - Bristol SUP
On the water
- Pootle down the Harbourside on a ferry boat (Bristol Ferry Boats or Number Seven Ferry Boat both run services around the harbour) to marvel at Bristol from the water.
- Float upstream to Beese’s Tea Rooms with Bristol Packet, Bristol Ferry Boats, or Number Seven. Alternatively, hire Avon River Cruises' 'Silver Salmon' for an extra special day trip or evening event. (And if you need a different-sized vessel, all the companies mentioned also do private hire).
- Step back in time on The Matthew, a stunning replica of the ship in which John Cabot discovered North America, moored outside M Shed. The ship is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017.
- Spend the night on new luxury boat hostel, the Kyle Blue, which can be found sitting pretty at Wapping Wharf.
Out and about
- Follow in the footsteps of your favourite film and TV characters with Bristol Film Office’s ‘Movie Maps’, pinpointing famous Bristol filming locations. Find out what goes on inside the BBC with a guided tour.
- Discover Bristol on foot with the UK's largest urban walking festival in May, featuring themed walks and events.
- Year-round there are guided and self-guided walking tours too, see here for a full list or visit the Tourist Information Centre.
- Picnic in Bristol’s oldest park, Brandon Hill before climbing Cabot Tower for unforgettable panoramic views of the city.
- Take a leaf out of Bristol’s eco-friendly book and get on your bike, better yet a bicycle made for two! As the UK’s first cycling city, Bristol has many cycle lanes and routes.
- For a great introduction to Bristol and a unique way of getting around some of the city’s best attractions, take one of Bristol Insight’s open top buses. Or jump in City-Cab Tours' taxi to uncover the city's secrets.
- Explore the Strawberry Line in the Cheddar Valley on foot or by bike.
- Discover Weston-super-Mare: bracing hilltop walks, vast sand beaches, arcades and the odd Banksy left over from his huge Dismaland exhibition. And make sure you stroll out to sea on the Grand Pier, which hosts all sorts of interesting events.
Image - Pi Shop by Mr Nick Hook Photography
Food & Drink
- Indulge in some Michelin-starred dining at Casamia’s new Harbourside location. The team have also recently opened Pi Shop, serving sourdough pizza and ice cream, and Paco Tapas, an authentic tapas and sherry bar in the same building.
- Travel back in time to the days of prohibition with flirty speakeasy-style cocktail bars – Milk Thistle, The Ox and Noche Negra. There is also an emerging magic scene with dedicated magic bars Illusions and Smoke and Mirrors,
- Food Connections - which takes place across the entire city in May is run in collaboration with the BBC as well as other Bristol Institutions. Producer markets, a food trail, debates, food walks, cookery classes and demos can be expected at the festival.
- BBQ-loving carnivores should check out Grillstock for a two-day festival of meat, and music with a dash of hillbilly spirit.
- Unwind and relax at Clifton’s restored, outdoor Lido before popping in for a bite at the award-winning poolside restaurant.
- Drink cider - as capital of the West Country, Bristol is home to some of the finest ciders in the land. Try The Apple and Bristol Cider Shop for some of the best.
- Treat gin enthusiasts by booking a 6 o’ clock gin distillery tour at Bramley & Gage which includes a tutored tasting. Gin-tastic!
- Or go for a wine tasting at pioneering Averys Wine Merchants, they've been sourcing the most perfect plonk since 1793.
- Visit Bristol’s first micro-pub, the Draper’s Arms in 2017. Go for real ale and farmhouse cider. And don't miss Bristol Beer Week at the end of August.
- For award-winning locally-brewed real ales, try the Grain Barge - docked in a beautiful Harbourside location in sight of Brunel's ss Great Britain.
- Try a bit of everything on the EatWalkTalk Bristol Food Tour which includes up to 12 terrific tastings.
- Munch choccie to your heart’s content at Taste Chocolate festival on 15 & 16 April.
- Find fruit-heaven with Pick Your Own farms in rolling Somerset countryside at Chosen Hill Farm overlooking Chew Valley Lake or St Aldams Nursery.
- Drink PIMM’s on the sun terrace at the White Lion Bar, perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge for iconic views of the Suspension Bridge.
- Take time for tea - it’s quintessentially English and totally delicious. Bristol has a ton of places where you can indulge in afternoon tea - click here for a list.
- Dine at The Pony and Trap – the 200-year old country inn in the pretty village of Chew Magna, is one of the most exciting places to visit in the South West.
- Grab lunch at locals' favourite St Nick's Market in the Old City. Choose from hallumi-stuffed wraps, plump sausage sandwiches, luscious lamb tagine and more. On certain days you'll also find more markets out on Corn Street including the Nails Market, Bristol Farmers' Market and Friday Food Market.
- Check out Cargo - a cool new collection of cafes, shops and bars in repurposed shipping containers. The wider Wapping Wharf area is also great for food, with its own Better Food supermarket and cafe for wholesome bites.
Image - Nails Market by Tamany Baker
Heritage, History & Tours
- St John on the Wall was built into the last remaining part of Bristol’s original city wall. Discover new and interactive displays, sounds, visuals and activities inside in 2017.
- Uncover Blackbeard’s lair in Bristol’s medieval port on a Pirate Walk around the historic Harbourside.
- Set off on a self-guided walking or cycling tour around Bristol Floating Harbour with the Treasure Island Trail and discover Bristol’s connections with the famous book.
- Enter The Red Lodge, a historic Elizabethan house tucked away behind Park Street. Or see how a wealthy merchant would have lived in the 18th century at Georgian House Museum, set in a restored townhouse.
- See Concorde up close at the brand new Aerospace Bristol opening in summer 2017.
Image - Aerospace Bristol
Music & Festivals
- Check out homespun acoustic music at Bristol Folk Festival in May. Or tap your feet to some American bluegrass and roots music at Bristol Americana Weekend in July
- Treat your ears to some of the world’s most thrilling jazz, blues and swing musicians at the Bristol International Jazz and Blues festival in March.
- Party the weekend away at Love Saves the Day festival in May - from the organisers behind the Wow! Stage in Glastonbury Dance Village.
- Shake some moves at the Dot to Dot festival in May – showcasing the hottest new and local musical talent across the best venues in Bristol.
- Rock out at Ashton Court Estate from 2-4 June with a star studded line-up of 80’s pop-stars. Family-friendly nostalgia at its best.
- Bristol’s stunning Harbourside amphitheatre is now the designated venue for a series of al fresco summer concerts. Keep an eye on Bristol Summer Series for line-up details.
- Don’t miss Bristol Harbour Festival from 21-23 July - one of the UK's largest public festivals, jam-packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, markets and street stalls.
- Join the Pride Parade (30 June-9 July) - the week-long festival features entertainment, a family area, funfair, market stalls, food stalls, bars and a community area.
- Watch a ‘nightglow’ – when hot air balloons illuminate the night accompanied by music at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta from 10-13 August. The free four-day event is a fantastic spectacle.
- Listen to beautiful music at one of the country’s finest concert halls, St George’s Bristol.
- Go dancing on a boat at Thekla- Bristol has a vibrant music scene beating behind the doors of its many characterful venues. You could also try Motion, Lakota, Mr Wolf’s or SWX.
- Go to a gig at The Louisiana, The Fleece, The Old Duke (for jazz), The Canteen, No 1 Harbourside or Colston Hall. All fantastic live music venues. (Don't miss the Monteverdi 450 series from 12 April-28 May - Colston Hall is premiering performances of the opera master's three surviving operas in celebration of his 450th birthday.
Image - Grillstock
- Test your stamina with a shopping trip up Park Street – a steep hill well known for its independent shops.
- Wander around Clifton Village for pretty Georgian streets lined with boutiques and fine places to eat.
- Go on a shopping-spree, from Harvey Nichols in Cabot Circus, to the high-street bargains of Bristol Shopping Quarter, the city is a world-class shopping venue. The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is another great shopping destination.
- Soak up the yuletide atmosphere of Bristol’s fantastic Christmas markets – a traditional Christmas Market, Local Christmas Market, Made in Bristol Gift Fair and Harbourside Christmas market (to name a few) set up camp across the city in the festive season.
- Famed for street art, retro and vintage bargains and delicious food, Gloucester Road has the largest number of independent shops on one road in the UK.
Image - Shopping in Clifton by Tamany Baker
- Blow your own glass with the team at Bristol Blue Glass, who use 300-year-old methods to create glass.
- Give someone the unforgettable experience of soaring above Bristol in a hot air balloon. Bristol Balloons and Bailey Balloons offer flights.
- Dine in the Sky - you can tuck into breakfast, lunch or dinner suspended 100 feet in the air at this pop-up restaurant from 7-10 September.
- Spin some icy shapes whilst skating under the stars at one of the city’s Christmas Ice rinks – try At-Bristol and Cribbs Causeway.
- Propose! Bristol has many romantic spots that would make the perfect location for a proposal.
- Bristol Doors Open Day, organised by The Architecture Centre on the Harbourside, is a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures. 2017’s event will take place over four days, from 7-10 September.
- Have fun testing your problem solving skills with a bunch of mates at LockedInARoom, Puzzlair-4D or the Real Life Escape Room.
- Renowned as one of Britain’s best examples of a Victorian garden cemetery, Arnos Vale is full of history, beauty, wildlife and much more.
- Feel a million dollars (or Bristol Pounds) with a soak at the city's newest spa at Bristol Harbour Hotel, found in the vaults of two former banks in the Old City.
- Don't spend a penny! Check out our list of fun free events.
- Treat yourself to an overnight stay in some of our lovely accommodation. You'll find everything from luxury apartments and city centre hotels to retro airstreams and eco B&Bs.
Image - Balloons over Bristol
- Sing your heart out at Christmastime with Carols by candlelight at various venues across Bristol – popular services include St Mary Redcliffe church, Bristol Cathedral, St James Priory and John Wesley’s Chapel ‘The New Room’.
- Take the Wolf Hall trail at Bristol Cathedral. Bristol Cathedral doubled as Westminster Abbey for the multi-award winning series and appeared in almost every episode.
Image - Choir at Bristol Cathedral by A Campbell
For EVEN MORE things to do in Bristol, click here.