There’s no shortage of things to keep youngsters entertained in Bristol this summer. We’ve rounded up some of the best - from exciting festivals to outdoor theatre, circus tricks to giant animatronic creatures, you’re sure to find something to captivate your offspring.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Image - Bristol Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

Festivals

  • Bristol Harbour Festival is back (21-23 July) with two miles of boats, food markets, craft stalls, circus acts, live music and performers stretching from Underfall Yard to Castle Park. There’s plenty going on for youngsters - have a go at aerial trapeze, dance the day away or just dangle your legs over the Harbour’s edge and watch the Pyronaut in action.
  • For the first time, Upfest (29-31 July) are teaming up with Ashton Gate Stadium to create a brand new live painting area. There’s plenty for families aside from the spectacle of watching the artists at work, including kids workshops, Morph-Making sessions in association with Aardman as well as live entertainment.
  • Dig out your sparkly wellies and get ready to shimmy at Valley Fest (4-6 Aug) – a family-friendly festival overlooking Chew Valley Lake. Local chefs, producers and farmers gather for a gourmet organic Midnight feast and communal picnic. There’s even a kids’ rave where they can try their hand at DJ-ing. Spandangly.
  • The multi-venue festival, Redfest (4-6 Aug) will take place in and around Church Road in Redfield, East Bristol. The festival promises an exciting line up with family activities, live music, DJs, art, dance and film over 3 days and 16 venues.
  • This famous annual Balloon fiesta (10-13 Aug) offers four days of free family fun and takes place within the lovely Ashton Court Estate. The mass balloon ascents and stunning night glows are truly a sight to behold. There’s also firework finales, live entertainment and stalls for a memorable long weekend.
  • The Hoo-Ha! Festival at Colston Hall (15-17 Aug) is especially for kids. The three-days of fun includes TV’s Dick and Dom, Andy Day and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes live. The whole foyer building will come alive with activities, interactive shows, a junior jungle rave and lots more. The final day of the festival will be extra special – with Colston Hall turning 150 this year, they’re throwing a huge birthday bash and everyone’s invited!

Upfest

Image - Upfest, credit Jon Chamberlain

  • Attractions, exhibitions and events

At-Bristol Science Centre

In addition to the hands-on exhibits and fascinating star gazing shows in the 3D planetarium, At-Bristol Science Centre are holding their first ‘What If’ festival (22 July- 3 Sept) celebrating curiosity. Extra activities, outdoor film screenings and ‘fiesta weekends’ are planned.

SS Great Britain Victorian Summer Circus

Bristol-based Cirque Bijou bring a specially-choreographed show to the six-week long Victorian Summer Circus (22 July – 3 Sept) at Brunel's SS Great Britain. Taking place three times a day on the dockside, the spectacle will feature juggling, hula hoop and acrobatics. Families can learn new circus skills with free, drop-in workshops on Brunel Square every day from 12-4pm, meet Mr Brunel, explore the ship or climb the rigging with Go Aloft!

ss great britain

Image - Mr Brunel on the SS Great Britain

Bristol Aquarium

Jurassic Shark is Bristol Aquarium’s summer holiday theme (22 July-3 Sept). Find out more about these majestic masters of evolution, join a special 'dino dig' and hunt for your own prehistoric specimens!

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Huge animatronic dinosaurs have set up camp in Bristol zoo over the summer holidays (until 3 Sept), some winged, others feathered, all terrifyingly realistic! Seek out the huge prehistoric creatures, take part in a fossil dig and meet experts from The Bristol Dinosaur Project.

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle has loads going on for families throughout the school holidays. Check their What’s On calendar for daily activities which include storytelling, arts and crafts, archery, jester skills, sword fighting and medieval falconry displays, all within the glorious grounds. Grandparents get special deals on a Monday.

Berkeley castle

Image - Berkeley Castle

Avon Valley Railway

Spend a special weekend celebrating Vintage Transport Festival at the Avon Valley Railway (29-30 July). Families can enjoy bus rides, static displays, river trips aboard MShed's Pyronaut and more!

WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Discover a world of wildlife with Dusty’s Wildlife Adventures at Slimbridge. Go on a wetland canoe safari, make a mini raft, splash around in Wellyboot Land, go pond dipping and create your own nature video!

Arnos Vale Cemetery

The Detective Project needs the help of 7-12 year olds (28 July) to find their spy and save Bristol from being sabotaged…The super sleuths will use gadgets and code breaking to solve the mystery and expose the baddie.

Bristol Harbour Hotel

Fairy-tale fans will love ‘Happily Ever After…noon tea’ at Bristol Harbour Hotel (29 July, 11 Aug & 26 Aug). Little ones can meet their favourite superheroes and princesses whilst you sip Champagne and tuck into some scrumptious treats.

Arnos Vale

Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery

  • Bristol Museums

Head to M Shed on a Tuesday between 11am and 3pm throughout the summer holidays for drawing activities, crafts and games. Bristol’s other museums, Blaise Castle House Museum (Wednesdays), Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (Thursdays), The Georgian House Museum (Fridays) and The Red Lodge Museum (Saturdays) are all running special summer-long family activities on respective days.

Venture back 150 million years to when Bristol was a Jurassic ocean teeming with ginormous terrifying creatures. The fiercest of them all was the Pliosaurus – now on display (until 7 January 2018) at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Visit if you dare.

Bristol museum

Image - Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

  • Trails

Around the World flag trail with Bristol Shopping Centre runs throughout the holidays (22 July – 10 September) with extra activities in Broadmead on Tuesdays and The Galleries on Thursdays. There’s also a Summer Food Fest in Cabot Circus from 4 August - 10 September.

Blaise Giants fairy door trail (26 July) - Youngsters will have fun pretending to be a Bristol giant striding across the land discovering the hidden miniature fairy doors.

Blaise Castle

Image - Folly at Blaise Castle Estate

Gruffalo trail at Westonbirt 

Motivate little legs with Westonbirt Arboretum’s ‘Gruffalo trail’ in the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. Download the Gruffalo Spotter App, look for clues, follow the interactive trail and enjoy fun activities along the way.

Marvellous Monsters at Longleat Safari Park

Enter a land of gigantic creepy crawlies at Longleat Safari (22 July-3 Sept) Currently home to 20 huge animatronic bugs, visitors can get up close to a giant ladybird, have a close encounter with a huge tailless whip scorpion before getting hands-on with the real life mini beasts.

Treasure Island Trail

Explore the Harbourside and discover Bristol’s connections with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island Trail as well as fascinating facts about the city’s famous pirates and maritime history.

Westonbirt Arboretum Natural Play

Image - Westonbirt Arboretum natural play area

  • Theatre

Wild Place Project is offering a wonderful way to introduce youngsters to the charming tale of Wind in the Willows (19 Aug)– outdoors surrounded by animals. See the likes of cheetahs, wolves and lemurs roaming the grounds before settling down to watch Ratty, Mole, Badger and the Toad as they embark on their adventures. Take your own low-backed seating or rugs.

A fantastically fun way to introduce kids to the music of the Master Composer - Beethoven's 4 Seasons with Wild Words (23-25 Aug) at The Wardrobe Theatre is for over 6s and their families.

Expect songs, wonky donkeys, live special effects, puppetry and animation with Noisy Holiday at The Wardrobe Theatre (29 Aug – 3 Sept) for 3-8 year o;ds and families.

Camp Baboon

Image - Camp Baboon

  • Summer schools

Tobacco Factory Theatres Summer School (23-28 July)

This summer, Tobacco Factory Theatres is offering an inspiring opportunity for young people to take part in a week-long performance school delivered by highly experienced theatre-makers. Youngsters will spend six days creating a show that they will perform to family and friends at the end of the week in the Factory Theatre. Two summer schools will be offered – one for those aged 8-12 and another for 13-19 year olds.

Junior Summer Golf Coaching Camp at Bowood (31 July- 2 Aug)

Young people aged between 6 – 16 can learn the basics of golf, from the long game, to putting, pitching and chipping, as well as practise on the three hole Academy Course.

Circomedia Summer School

Does your child love a bit of acrobatics? The Circomedia Youth Circus Summer Extravaganza (31 July -4 Aug) offers five jam-packed days of aerial, juggling, clowning, games and frolics, culminating in a showcase spectacular for family and friends.

Tobaccon Factory

Image - Tobacco Factory Theatres Summer School, credit Jack Offord

  • Family-friendly places to eat

If you're adventuring around the city, stop for a refuel at one of these scrumptious child-friendly places to eat. It's not just us who think Bristol's family-friendly culinary scene is something to rave about - see Rhiannon Batten's Bristol picks in Olive Magazine.

Pi

Image Pi Shop, credit Nick Hook Photography

For more information on Bristol news and events see http://visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on

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