From soaring hot air balloons to bustling Harbourside festivals, incredible live music to new cultural event spaces, food festivals to family fun; there’s something very special about #SummerInBristol...

Read on to find out why Bristol is always a good idea: find out what’s coming up and how to make the most of the warmer weather, school holidays and buzzy summertime atmosphere in Bristol. 

Jump to: Unmissable events | Family FunStay in Bristol | Experience something new | Adventurous activities | Summer holiday clubs | Go on a tour | Food and drink | Art and culture 

Unmissable events

Bristol’s summer event calendar is jam-packed with plenty of free, cultural events to keep you entertained.

Start the season in style by celebrating Bristol’s wonderful LGBT+ community at Bristol Pride. There are numerous events taking place in the first two weeks of July, including the Pride Parade and festival on the Downs on Saturday 13 July, with headliners including The Human League and Ladytron.

Hand in Hand choral festival is coming to Bristol from 16 - 18 August, bringing 1,500 singers from across the UK and Ireland together to share their love of singing and pride of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Raja O Hara at Bristol Pride - Credit Bristol Pride
Image - Bristol Pride

As the sunnier months roll on, don’t miss the return of two of the city’s trademark events. From 19 - 21 July, experience a jam-packed programme of live performances, maritime displays, visiting vessels and on-water activities as Bristol Harbour Festival takes over the Harbourside.

A man wearing a water-powered jetpack performing stunts on Bristol's Harbourside during the Bristol Harbour Festival with the M Shed local history museum in the background - credit Jim Cossey
Image - Bristol Harbour Festival

Over at Ashton Court from 9 - 11 August, marvel at the sights and sounds of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, with mass balloon ascents, Night Glow shows, and fireworks. As well as the usual entertainment, this year’s Fiesta will also feature a new on-site restaurant from local steakhouse Pasture, and the option of paid tickets for the Sky Lounge.

Balloons flying over the Clifton Suspension Bridge in West Bristol during one of the morning mass ascents from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta - credit Gary Newman
Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Back in the city centre, music fans will love Old City Sounds on the August bank holiday weekend. This year is seeing a change in approach with local venues are putting on live music. There are no music zones this year, but there will be a BID kids zone with Circus Skills, African Drumming & Dance and Bhangra Dance workshops, along with facepainting.

Street performer at Old City Sounds - Credit Julian Preece
Image - Old City Sounds

Film fans are well served over the coming weeks, with Bristol Film Festival's Clifton Summer ScreeningsCinema Rediscovered film festival in late July, and a drive-in cinema at Mollie's Motel in Cribbs Causeway.  

Bristol's summer music calendar has a stellar line up, including The Sugababes followed by Hospitality on the Harbour at the start of August, legendary Bristol act Massive Attack on The Downs (25 August) and FORWARDS (31 August – 1 September) with Four Tet, Jessie Ware, Loyle Carner and many more, as well as social action talks and creative panels.

Audience at Forwards Festival Bristol - credit Beth Whelan

Check out the latest events at new cultural space PROSPECT and Bristol's grass root venues such as The Louisana and Thekla (the latter of which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year), or browse our event calendar for the latest gigs and concerts.

14 September sees the start of flagship club series IN:MOTION – back after a three-year hiatus - which takes places across several world-class clubs including Motion, DOCUMENT and The Marble Factory. The line-up boasts UK legends and rising stars such as Goldie, Paul Woolford, Ewan Mcvicar and Bristol’s own Eats Everything. Motion will also be hosting a series of day parties throughout the summer.

Exterior of the Thekla floating nightclub in Bristol's Harbourside - credit Thekla Bristol
Image - Thekla

Family fun

Many of Bristol’s best attractions are offering money-saving deals across summer. Keep an eye to our summer offers page for the latest additions.

Bristol’s beloved science centre We the Curious has now reopened with over 200 mind-blowing things to do and a new programme of ‘impossible’ activities, including a 3D planetarium show. The centre will also be hosting a reopening celebration weekend on 6 and 7 July.

We The Curious planterium
Image - We The Curious

Take a voyage into the unknown at Space Shanty at M Shed from 18 July – 1 September. This playful intergalactic experience through time, is based on Bristol’s involvement with space science and travel. Meet Bemmie the Ratronaut who will guide you through interactive portals across a maze-like space.

Learn more about one of nature’s most magnificent creatures at Bristol Aquarium’s Summer of Sharks event from 20 July – 1 September. Enjoy daily shark talks and feedings and get up close with shark teeth and eggs at daily workshops.

A group of children looking into a tank while walking through the tunnel at Bristol Aquarium - credit Bristol Aquarium
Image - Bristol Aquarium

Take in the sights, sounds and smells aboard the world’s first great ocean liner, Brunel's SS Great Britain, and explore two hands-on museums at this multi-award-winning attraction.

Embark on a summer adventure at the UK’s largest immersive art experience with Sundust Secrets at Wake the Tiger, on until 1 September. There are seven notes hidden in the alternative world of Meridia and the OUTERverse. Find the notes and solve the word riddle to unlock the Top Secret box! The activity is included in the price of the entry ticket (family discounts are available, under 5s go free). 

Wake The Tiger - The Library - Credit Andre Pattenden
Image - Wake The Tiger

Feeling inspired by the Bristol Balloon Fiesta? Head north to Aerospace Bristol and get involved with a basketful of ballooning events and activities for Look Up! The story of hot air ballooning in Bristol, running from 24 July – 1 September. Discover how hot air ballooning took off in Bristol, see how hot air balloons are made and more.

Concorde and Hot Air Balloon
Image - Concorde and a hot airballoon

Nearby at Bristol Zoo Project, meet new Red Panda resident Nilo and explore the zoo like never before at their Summer Lates event. See what animals get up to in the evening and enjoy music from Bristol Symphony Orchestra on 12 July and an evening exploring the new adventure playground on 26 July. Be sure to take advantage of Bristol Zoo Project’s brand new family saver offer if you’re visiting during the day.

Red panda at Bristol Zoo Project - Credit Katie Horrocks  @kh_zoo_photography
Image - Nilo, Red Panda at Bristol Zoo Project

Just south of Bristol, Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park is being transformed into a Summertopia from 13 July – 1 September! Highlights include a sand and water play area, 50 metre slip ‘n’ slide, and a chance to walk among prehistoric giants in Dinosaur Valley. Stay for longer at Avon Valley's campsite, which offers glamping tents (some with hot tubs), as well as motorhome and campervan pitches. If you are unable to pack all the activities in one day, you can also take advantage of Avon Valley’s Boomerang Pass.

Pool at Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park near Bristol - credit Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park
Image - Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park 

Take a trip to the seaside at Brean Leisure Park, based just an hour’s drive south of Bristol along the Somerset coast. Featuring Brean Splash Waterpark with outdoor water slides and indoor pool, Brean Play with the region’s largest soft play area for children, and Brean Theme Park, it’s the perfect family day out.

Child on ride at Brean Theme Park in North Somerset - credit Brean Holiday Resort Unity
Image - Brean Theme Park

The Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare has plenty of ways to keep the whole family occupied, from go-karts and thrill rides to arcade games and soft play.

A wheelchair user and their dog on the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare near Bristol - credit The Grand Pier

Image - The Grand Pier

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Noah's Ark Zoo Farm and enjoy 25% off all online tickets in July.

Take a scenic drive south-east of Bristol through the Somerset and Wiltshire countryside to Longleat, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary as a tourist attraction. A special exhibition at Longleat House will allow you to explore the attraction’s history, before or after a drive-through safari in the estate’s grounds. 

More outdoorsy adventures can be found at Westonbirt to the north-east of Bristol, with their special summer games and Gruffalo trail.

A family on a guided drive-through safari tour looking at a tiger from inside a Land Rover at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, near Bristol - credit Longleat
Image - Longleat

Stay in Bristol

With lots of summery goodness to soak up, stick around in Bristol for more than a day. Accommodation in the city and surrounding area ranges from kid-friendly hotels to chic serviced apartments and countryside campsites, so you’ll easily find somewhere that’s your style.

For the best deal on your summer break, make our special offers page your first stop, to find packages and perks you might otherwise miss. And then book direct. Not only will you pay less than on booking sites but extras like breakfast and parking are often thrown in too. 

Mercure Bristol Grand lobby with street art - Credit Jose Coello
Image - Mercure Bristol Grand

Mecure Bristol Grand is a great 4-star hotel in the Old City, within easy reach of Bristol's top shops, markets and harbourside, or if you're after a self catering option, Urban Creation have luxury serviced apartments scattered across the city from Georgian townhouses to Victorian villas - take your pick from stylish pads at Beech House, Alison Court and Redmayne House.

Dining room table and kitchen in Beech House - Credit Urban Apartments
Image - Beech House

If you're looking to stay in Central Bristol, Radisson Blu is within walking distance from lots of great attractions (including, We The Curious, Bristol Aquarium, and Watershed), as well as has great access to public transport. Radisson Blu's spacious interconnected rooms are perfect for families.

If it’s a family break, you’ll love Future Inns’ Kids Stay Free deal. Make one of their interconnecting rooms home for your stay and you’ll be in the heart of Bristol Shopping Quarter, close to heaps of family-friendly restaurants and things to do.

If you'd like to take advantage of Bristol's proximity to stunning countryside, and dramatic coastline we have included a list of holiday parks and campsites near Bristol.

An aerial drone shot of The Wave and Camp at The Wave showing lodges and the Wave surfing lake in the background
Image - Camp at The Wave

Experience something new

Discover some of the amazing cave networks in and around Bristol this summer. From guided tours in the UK’s largest show caves, a giant moon to marvel at, a newly launched Wild West-themed circus, and a thrilling 4D cinema experience with 'Chaos in Wonderland', there’s plenty to explore at Wookey Hole. Staying overnight? Take advantage of Wookey’s range of holiday packages, including a stay at the on-site Wookey Hole Hotel or Mendip View Lodges.

Model of the moon at Wookey Hole
Image - Moon at Wookey Hole

A few miles north at Cheddar Gorge & Caves, explore the new multi-sensory immersive Yeo’s Journey experience. Learn about the story of how the caves were formed and evolved as you are taken on a journey with lights, animation and music, and find out what life was like for our ancestors in the Caveman Curiousity exhibition.

Cheddar Gorge & Caves Yeo's Cave Yeo's Journey Blue Stalacmite
Image - Cheddar Gorge and Caves

Explore the mysterious portal between our world and the wonders of the universe at Lumosphere at The Friary, immersive and interactive walk-through experience popping up in Cabot Circus from 26 July – 18 August. Sports fans can enjoy The Wimbledon Experience on the big screen in Quakers Friars from 1 July, as well as an official Olympics Team GB Fanzone from 26 July and an official Paralympics GB Fanzone from 28 August.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain are hosting three Summer Lates gigs on 4 July, 25 July, and 1 August. Soak up the musical talents of local bands, then explore the ship, dry dock and dockyard after hours without the crowds.

If you’re into sampling local talent, John Wesley’s New Room are also hosting lots of folk gigs throughout summer.

Brunel's SS Great Britain summer lates
Image - Summer Lates at Brunel's SS Great Britain

Adventurous activities

There are plenty of adventurous activities to enjoy in and around Bristol this summer, from sailing, katakanu and wild swimming in the city’s Harbourside with All Aboard Watersports, to paddleboarding with SUP Bristol.

There’s also Adventure Bristol’s exciting Tree Top high ropes and mountain biking courses at Ashton Court, as well as Leap of Faith at Bristol Zoo Project. Or, if you fancy going underground (it’s cooler down there!), try caving at Wookey Hole or Cheddar Gorge.

Tree top high ropes course - credit Adventure Bristol
Image - Tree Tops at Ashton Court

Choose from plenty of activities at Mendip Activity Centre, including axe throwing, abseiling, archery and more. You can also enjoy a stay at Mendip Basecamp, to help you take advantage of all there is to offer on site.

Mendip Activity Centre Stand up paddle boarding - credit Mendip Activity Centre near Bristol - credit Mendip Activity Centre
Image - Paddlebparding with Mendip Activity Centre

Surfs up at The Wave! The venue’s first ever Surf Show takes place on the weekend of 13 - 14 July, and if you fancy a surf under the night sky, you’re in luck with The Wave’s new after-dark surfing sessions. For those looking to enjoy this year’s summer of sport during the summer holidays, The Wave will also be screening the Olympics and Paralympics live in the Clubhouse throughout July and August.

Summer holiday clubs

Looking to keep the kids busy during the school holidays? Mojo Active have 80 acres of private fields and woodland for kids to run around in during their holiday clubs. They also offer special days where children can have fun trying out new activities including high ropes, parkour, scuba dving, surfing and more.

Adventure Bristol are also running holiday clubs on selected dates in August for children aged 7 - 14, with a range of outdoor activities.

Out There Indoors in Paintworks offer daily play sessions, while Goldfinch Create and Play in Westbury-on-Trym run arts and crafts activities during school holidays.

Children on low ropes at Mojo Active - credit Mojo Active
Image - Mojo Active

Learn about Bristol on a tour

Looking to learn more about the city on during your visit? See the bridge like never before on the Clifton Suspension Bridge Underground Vaults tour or learn about a Hollywood icon on the Raising Cary Grant tour.

There are also plenty of self guided and guided tours across Bristol. Scour the city for answers with Treasure Hunt Bristol or explore air raid shelters and hidden stories on the St. Nicholas Market and Air Raid Shelter walking tour

One of the guides from the 'Raising Cary Grant' tour by Show of Strength in central Bristol - credit Show of Strength
Image - Show of Strength Raising Cary Grant tour

One of the best ways to see the city is by boat, so don't miss out on a chance to book a trip with Bristol FerryBristol Packet Boat Trips or The Matthew, who offer everything from harbour sightseeing to gin cruises and Sunday trips to Beeses.

Discover Bristol’s fabulous food scene on a food and drink tour, or browse a range of tours, tastings and experiences with Yuup Bristol.

Group holding food samples - credit Food Tours of Bristol
Image - Food Tours of Bristol

Summery food and drink

Bristol’s restaurant terraces and pub gardens are calling. Whether you fancy a special dinner with waterfront views or a family-friendly pub, find an outdoor seat on sunny days with help from our guides to alfresco places to eat and beer gardens. If you fancy going out with your pooch, we’ve also rounded up some dog-friendly pubs in Bristol. 

Of course, the English weather can’t always be relied on, but a summery experience can still be had indoors at Bristol restaurants where menus are given a seasonal update. What summer break would be complete without ice cream? The award-winning Swoon has Italian-style gelato, cocktails and tasty pastries.

Gelato in cones at Swoon - credit Swoon
Image - Swoon

There are plenty of brilliant foodie events to keep you taste buds tingling this Summer. From brand new food festival Feast On at The Downs (26 - 28 July) and the best-tasting, family-friendly music festival in the South West, Valley Fest (1 - 4 August).

A view of the Valley Fest stage at Chew Valley Lake near Bristol - credit Valley Fest
Image - Valley Fest

If you're looking for somewhere to watch the football in and around Bristol, we have summarised places in Bristol to watch the Euros.

Strike Fan Zone EUROS 2024
Image - Strike Fan Zone

Art and culture

Bristol’s home to so much brilliant arts and culture, make sure to make the most of your visit by exploring Bristol’s fabulous street art scene and visiting Bristol’s galleries, or going along to a show.

Pop into the RWA for the Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation exhibition, or head to Spike Island or Arnolfini for their latest exhibitions, both of which are free to visit (donations welcome).

Join a spray-painting workshop with Where The Wall or Graft, and pop along to a street art tour where you can learn about Bansky and the street art scene. Street art festival Weston Wallz will be returning to Weston during the summer too, so keep your eyes peeled for some new murals!

A young girl taking part in one of the street art workshops at Graft Bristol - credit Graft
Image - Graft

Looking for evening entertainment? Disney’s Aladdin is hitting the stage at The Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic are showing lots of shows throughout summer including family favourite, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and alternative comedy mash-up The Good, The Bad & The Coyote Ugly is back at The Wardrobe Theatre this Summer.

Exterior of Bristol Hippodrome at night - credit The Bristol Hippodrome
Image - Bristol Hippodrome

Getting to Bristol 

It's easy to get to Bristol by public transport, with rail one of the most convenient and green options. Temple Meads Station the largest rail hub in the west of England, with direct services from London, Scotland, Wales, Manchester and Birmingham. If you are travelling by train in a group of between 3 and 9 adults, you can get a 1/3 off Standard Off-Peak tickets when travelling together with the GroupSave ticket.

Travel around Bristol with First Bus, with almost 100 routes operating in and aroiund the city. Single and group tickets are available to purchase on the First Bus app or using Tap On, Tap Off on the bus. Alternatively, hop on a coach service from National Express, Megabus, FlixBus and Falcon. If you're thinking of bringing the car, consider using the Park & Ride services for day trips. 

Join in the conversation with us on social media and tag your posts, photos and videos of you having fun this #SummerInBristol.

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