Drop anchor in the city for meetings afloat and fun water-based activities…

Employees in suits on stand up paddle boards with Bristol's colourful houses in the background

Image - SUP Bristol 

'Seanic' event spaces 

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

For an event like no other, step aboard the world’s first great ocean liner – one of Bristol’s most treasured spaces. Treat your guests to a fine feast in the elegant dining saloon, or settle them into No. 1 Brunel Square, which offers a 250-seat lecture theatre plus two smaller rooms with Harbour views, Sir Marc Brunel Room and Sir Daniel Gooch Suite. For something huge, with up to 500 delegates, you can hire the whole lot. Guests can explore the ship, which vividly recreates life on board in the 19th century, from steerage through to first class, and even climb the ship’s mast. (And keep your telescope focused on the horizon – a brand new museum dedicated to the engineering legend himself, Being Brunel, opens in March 2018.)  

Brunel's SS Great Britain at night

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain by David Noton 

The Bristol 

In prime position on Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside, your attendees will immediately find themselves at the heart of the city. Its Meetings & Events Centre, which boasts nine meeting rooms, has its own private entrance complete with lounge and bar. There’s also the added convenience of on-site parking – a real luxury in such a smashing location.

Bristol International Youth Hostel 

Once a waterfront grain house, this characterful building is now a rather nice hostel. It also has two well-equipped conference rooms - one for 60 people and one for 20 - available for full day, half day or evening hire. And if people fancy exploring before or after, it’s an ideal starting point for Harbourside walks and tours. 

Event attendees inside a pink hued event space at the M Shed on Bristol Harbourside

Image - M Shed 

M Shed

This former dockside transit shed is now Bristol’s social history museum. It’s just the place to learn more about the city’s maritime past and understand how Bristolians have experienced and shaped their surroundings over the years. Delegates are free to explore, and can also take behind-the-scenes tours of the stored collections. The adaptable spaces for hire include an Event Suite with state-of-the-art tech plus two studios on the first floor and also some nice foyer areas. The food and drink is top notch too, with options ranging from fruity mocktails and finger buffets to three course dinners. 

Watershed 

Host an event in this Harbourside arts cinema and you’re sure to inspire. Watershed is all about creativity and innovation, so perfect for unique events, launches and film rushes. With three cinemas (the largest has space for 200 people and the smallest, 42), a flexible suite of conference spaces and a big, bright café bar, possibilities abound. 

People watching a film at Watershed as part of Encounters film festival

Image - Encounters film festival at Watershed by Jon Craig

Mercure Bristol Brigstow 

Make waves with an event overlooking the water, right by the historic Bristol Bridge. There’s a ferry landing stage opposite so guests can arrive by river. Four bright and breezy conference rooms include a swish executive boardroom for 12. And if your guests are staying overnight, there’s the added perk of the nearby Welsh Back Gym, with rejuvenating facilities such as a sauna and solarium.

Bristol Aquarium

Wow your guests with an event in this watery underworld. They can ogle teethy tropical sharks and yellow-bellied turtles, drink in hand, as part of their dinner or drinks reception. There’s also the Large Screen Theatre, with a tiered auditorium for 340 guests, and a smaller meeting space called the Turing Room with full audio-visual capabilities.  

A pair of clown fish exploring their colourful tank at Bristol Aquarium

Image - Bristol Aquarium 

Armada House 

This elegant Edwardian space, designed by architect Henry Williams for the Bristol Water Company, is dedicated to meetings and events. There’s a whole host of rooms named after Bristol icons, from the expansive Brunel to the mini Matthew, plus various catering packages to choose from. Or you can go overboard and ask their expert staff to create something totally bespoke. 

Harbourside incentives 

Try stand up paddle boarding 

Want to give your delegates an alternative view of the city? Abandon desks for the day for a refreshing adventure on water with SUP Bristol. Your group can take a sightseeing tour of the Floating Harbour, gliding past all the major sights including Brunel’s SS Great Britain, M Shed and Arnolfini, as part of an away day, or try a team building challenge tailored to your requirements. You can add on other activities on dry land, or join the locals for some Harbourside drinks… 

Sail aboard The Matthew 

Treat a pioneering team to a trip on The Matthew – a replica of the boat John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1947, discovering North America. Your team can join the ship’s crew for a three-hour shift, tackling various on-board challenges and discovering what it was like to be a sailor in Tudor times. For something more leisurely, how about a catered harbour trip with champagne and canapes?

The Matthew sailing past the colourful houses of Clifton Wood in Bristol

Image - The Matthew on the Floating Harbour by Jim Cossey 

Enjoy a bespoke boat tour 

No matter what their interests, your group will love the oh-so-Bristol experience of bobbing along the Floating Harbour alongside all the other boat life. Bristol Ferry Boats offers some great private hire packages, including catered parties (fish and chips, anyone?) and Harbour tours with commentary from a friendly local skipper. Bristol Packet also does boat hire, with super social ideas including evening river cruises and a dockside pub tour. 

Take a Harbourside tour with Pirate Pete

Hand your team over to the inimitable Pirate Pete – eye patches and plastic swords not compulsory but definitely desirable. He’ll give them a pirate’s perspective on the Harbourside’s unsavoury maritime history, take them to Treasure Island’s Spy Glass Inn and lead the unsuspecting gang to Blackbeard’s Lair. Ooo-arrrrrr.

A group dress up as pirates for a walking tour with Pirate Pete

Image - Bristol Pirate Walks

Discover Bristol’s boat-making history 

Take your group on a behind-the-scenes tour of Underfall Yard, a working boat yard with a new visitor centre where you can learn how the docks have evolved through history. (A great choice for engineers). Pop into onsite café Pickle for coffees, which your delegates can enjoy while they peruse the exhibits. 

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