Swap hibernation for cultural inspiration on a visit to Bristol this autumn. With stunning countryside nearby for lovely leaf-peeping and an eclectic mix of art exhibitions, music, theatre, historical events and festivals, you’ll want to be out exploring everything the city has to offer rather than hiding away as the leaves drop and the nights draw in.

Art

Bristol is renowned for its artistic streak and there’s all sorts on display this autumn...

Other Art Fair

Image - The Other Art Fair 

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

  • Alternative Visions: Undiscovered Art in the South West (until 10 Sept) showcases honest, emotive and vibrant work by 20 undiscovered artists from across the region.
  • Empire Through the Lens (30 Sept 2017-31 Aug 2018). Featuring extraordinary images from the Bristol Archives depicting aspects of life in former British Empire and the Commonwealth countries, mostly dating from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Spike Island

  • Maeve Brennan traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon in The Drift (until 17 Sept).
  • Sculpture and performance artist Tessa Lynch presents L-Shaped Room (until 17 Sept), developed from the observation of her immediate surroundings.

Arnolfini

  • The Other Art Fair (1-3 Sept). Presented and curated by Saatchi Art, the art fair shows the work of 80 artists alongside a programme of theatre and live performances. It’s a brilliant opportunity to discover and buy art directly from the UK’s best emerging contemporary artists. Complimentary tickets for Visit Bristol followers. Redeem at theotherartfair.com/comp using code VISITBRISTOL

5 things not to miss at The Other Art Fair Bristol

  • Grayson Perry (27 Sept – 24 Dec) On show for the first time outside London, artist Grayson Perry brings The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! from London’s Serpentine Galleries to headline the autumn season at Arnolfini. Best known for his ceramic urns, cross-dressing outfits and irreverent take on contemporary culture, the exhibition challenges many topics close to Perry’s heart.

Music

Play Me I'm Yours

Image - Play me I'm yours, Bristol

  • Go outside and give those ivories a tinkle! Bristol’s innovative installation artist, Luke Jerram has created a musical arts trail of individually-decorated street pianos for Play Me I'm Yours (until 7 Sept). Eighteen pianos have been placed in public areas across the city for everyone to enjoy playing.
  • Headlined by Elbow, The Downs Festival (2 Sept) is set to be a sizzler. The cracking line-up also includes blues musician Seasick Steve, De La Soul, Soul II Soul, Groove Armada and Bristol’s own Roni Size. 

Read our La La Land-inspired Bristol itinerary

  • If you’d rather listen to music being played rather than make it yourself, head to historic music venue Colston Hall. Highlights include La La Land in Concert with live orchestra (22 Sept).
  • Rounding off our summer of festivals is Tokyo World (23-24 Sept) in Bristol’s Eastville Park. This two-day dance party features over 100 live acts and DJ sets including Basement Jaxx, Faithless, Jungle, and Artful Dodger. Both nights are followed by after-parties at Motion Night Club.
  • Bristol Classical Season (from 10 Oct) will feature the greatest and best-loved classical works of all time - Four Seasons, The New World, Pathetique, Fantastique - brought to visitors by some of the UK’s flagship orchestras.

Theatre

Valda Aviks, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cameron Blakely, Dickon Gough, Samantha Womack, Les Dennis & Grant McIntyre in THE ADDAMS FAMILY credit Matt Martin  (1)

Image - Valda Aviks, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cameron Blakely, Dickon Gough, Samantha Womack, Les Dennis & Grant McIntyre in THE ADDAMS FAMILY credit Matt Martin 

Tobacco Factory Theatres

  • Bristol Festival of Puppetry (1 - 10 Sept) This bi-annual celebration showcases the best in cutting edge puppetry and animation. Tobacco Factory Theatres and Watershed are among the host venues showing films and performances throughout the 10-day event. Look out for the festival’s Carnival Parade, Artists Breakfasts, the Puppet Trail and the Smoking Puppet Cabaret.
  • Opera Project’s production of Puccini’s Tosca opens on 27 Sept (until 14 October). Look out also for 20th century classic Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (19 Oct-4 Nov).

Bristol Hippodrome

  • Are you sitting comfortably? You should be on Bristol Hippodrome’s new seats, which will be fitted in time for autumn. Strictly fans will love Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace in Tango Moderno (12-16 Sept), a hot, high tempo Latino dance show. Get ready to click your fingers with creepy musical comedy The Addams Family (19 – 23 Sept) starring Samantha Womack as Morticia and Les Dennis as Uncle Fester. Bristol Hippodrome will also welcome My Fair Lady (26-30 Sept) and The English National Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet (21-25 Nov). The National Theatre’s internationally-acclaimed War Horse runs from 18 Oct -11 Nov. Save yourself the same sort of scrabbling for tickets witnessed in the Visit Bristol Marketing Office and book yours now!

The Wardrobe Theatre at Old Market Assembly

Bristol Old Vic

Redgrave Theatre

Film

Bristol cathedral

Image - Bristol Cathedral, credit Graham Flack

  • If motion pictures are more your thing, check out Encounters Festival (19-24 Sept). The UK’s leading short film and animation festival takes place at Bristol’s Watershed and Arnolfini - expect an inspiring selection of screenings, events and parties over the course of the week.  
  • September also marks the start of a new series of monthly film screenings, Electric Shadows at Bristol Cathedral, which explores theology in cinema. The films will be introduced by guest speakers from across the city. 

History

Sink your teeth into a bit of history with autumn activities and events varying from discovering dinosaurs to uncovering the secrets of age-old railways.

ssgb

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain, credit Max Maclure

Family

Autumn at Westonbirt

Image - Autumn at Westonbirt

  • Autumn wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Westonbirt The National Arboretum. Make the most of their most spectacular season with photography workshops, seed-themed crafts, Stick Man and Gruffalo trails and guided walks or just wander the acreage admiring the blazing colours of the changing leaves and awesome Acers.

Read our blog on Westonbirt in autumn

  • Come autumn, the Downs is one of the best places in the city to find conkers. Intrepid conker hunters should head for Saville Road (on the Stoke Bishop side), with its wealth of Horse Chestnut trees.
  • Bristol Family Arts Festival (October) - Get inspired, messy and creative in the month-long, citywide Bristol Family Arts Festival. Jam-packed with inventive activities, from pumpkin carving to spooky explorations of ships, animation and model making to music and poetry, family members of all ages are sure to find something to appeal to their artistic side.
  • Bristol’s biennial circus festival Circus City From 12–29 October a horde of venues and outdoor spaces across Bristol, will play host to an eclectic mix of live circus performance, talks, masterclasses, interactive classes and workshops, including a half-term programme of shows for families. Prepare to be wowed.

Discover more about circus-tastic Bristol

  • Family Heritage Day, St Georges Bristol (22 Oct)- Head to beautiful St George’s Bristol for a fun family day of mesmerising stories, local legends and marvellous makes, inspired by the building’s history.  Be part of their new interactive family concert, with opportunities to become part of the show!

Plan your stay with these special autumn breaks offers

For even more ideas and inspiration go to www.visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on

Related

Alternative Visions: Undiscovered Art in the South West at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Participatory Event
Alternative Visions: Undiscovered Art in the South West at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Frank, emotive and vibrant work by 20 undiscovered artists from across the region.

Empire Through the Lens at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Participatory Event
Empire Through the Lens at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Bristol Archives now holds an extraordinary collection of photography and film depicting aspects of life in former British Empire and the Commonwealth countries, mostly dating from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Maeve Brennan: The Drift at Spike Island
Exhibition
Maeve Brennan: The Drift at Spike Island

Spike Island presents a major new film commission, The Drift, by London and Beirut based artist Maeve Brennan.

The Other Art Fair at Arnolfini
Participatory Event
The Other Art Fair at Arnolfini

The Other Art Fair is the UK's favourite fair to meet and buy art direct from the very best emerging and undiscovered artists.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibtion Ever! at Arnolfini
Exhibition
The Most Popular Art Exhibtion Ever! at Arnolfini

Arnolfini are bringing a major exhibition by Grayson Perry, one of the world’s most charismatic artists and astute commentators on contemporary society, to Bristol.

Play Me I'm Yours
Participatory Event
Play Me I'm Yours

Play Me I'm Yours, an artwork by Bristol artist Luke Jerram, is a musical art trail of individually-decorated street pianos installed in public spaces across a city for everyone to play and enjoy.

The Downs Festival
Performance
The Downs Festival

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, headlined by Massive Attack, The Downs Festival is set to return on Saturday 2 September.  Elbow will headline the main stage.

La La Land in Concert with live orchestra at Colston Hall
Performance
La La Land in Concert with live orchestra at Colston Hall

Described as the film of its generation, capturing the hearts of everyone whilst breaking records around the world, now La La Land will be brought to audiences like never before via a huge screen accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra.

Tokyo World weekend festival at Eastville Park
Festival
Tokyo World weekend festival at Eastville Park

Tokyo World will be a whole weekend in 2017 taking place over two days in Bristol’s Eastville Park.

Bristol Festival of Puppetry 2017
Performance
Bristol Festival of Puppetry 2017

The fifth Bristol Festival of Puppetry; the biennial celebration of all things animated on stage and screen, will run from 1 to 10 September 2017 at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Watershed and various central Bristol locations.

Puccini's Tosca at Tobacco Factory Theatres
Performance
Puccini's Tosca at Tobacco Factory Theatres

Opera Project return to Tobacco Factory Theatres this autumn for a co-production of another intensely dramatic and riveting masterpiece from Puccini – Tosca.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at Tobacco Factory Theatres
Performance
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at Tobacco Factory Theatres

First performed in 1953, Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett is an undeniable classic of 20th century literature. Tobacco Factory Theatres are delighted to present it as their first major solo production, directed by Mark Rosenblatt.

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace - Tango Moderno, Bristol Hippodrome Theatre
Theatre
Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace - Tango Moderno, Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

TANGO MODERNO Tango superstars’ new show to capture the heat of the street!

The Addams Family at Bristol Hippodrome Theatre
Performance
The Addams Family at Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

Everyone's favourite kooky family are now on stage in the UK premiere of this spectacular musical comedy from the writers of multi award-winning hit musical Jersey Boys, with music and lyrics by Tony Award nominated Andrew Lippa.

My Fair Lady at Bristol Hippodrome
Performance
My Fair Lady at Bristol Hippodrome

BLOC’s beautiful new production of My Fair Lady will transport you from the streets where you live to the flower markets of London, the racecourses of Ascot and to the glittering heights of an Embassy Ball where everything is 'Absolutely Bloomin' Loverly'.

ENB: Romeo and Juliet at Bristol Hippodrome
Performance
ENB: Romeo and Juliet at Bristol Hippodrome

English National Ballet, winner of the award for Outstanding Company at the 2016 National Dance Awards, brings the world’s greatest love story to Bristol Hippodrome.

War Horse at Bristol Hippodrome
Performance
War Horse at Bristol Hippodrome

War Horse is a spectacular, powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs.

Blahblahblah: Shall We Take This Outside by Adam Kammerling at the Wardrobe Theatre
Performance
Blahblahblah: Shall We Take This Outside by Adam Kammerling at the Wardrobe Theatre

Shall We Take This Outside is a unique and visceral fusion of spoken word and dance.

The Caretaker at Bristol Old Vic
Performance
The Caretaker at Bristol Old Vic

Chris Haydon (Grounded, Twelve Angry Men) directs Pinter's 20th century masterpiece in a bold new production that unpicks in brilliant and pertinent detail, the paranoia of living in an ever-changing landscape, the threat of alienation and every man's overpowering desire to belong.

Alice in Wonderland at the Redgrave Theatre
Performance
Alice in Wonderland at the Redgrave Theatre

Performed by a cast of over 40 actors from ITV WEST Television Workshop, this is a Steam-punk look at the madcap, fast-paced ridiculous journey of Alice through the world of Wonderland!

Legally Blonde at the Redgrave Theatre
Performance
Legally Blonde at the Redgrave Theatre

Glamorous Elle Woods is a girl with an eye for style (pink of course), but don't let this fashionista fool you, this sorority sister is smarter than she seems…..

Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival
Participatory Event
Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival

The 23rd Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival takes place from 19 to 24 September 2017, screening more than 400 films and hosting 60 events across 6 days.

Electric Shadows - The Terminator at Bristol Cathedral
Cinema & Film
Electric Shadows - The Terminator at Bristol Cathedral

In September 2017, a new monthly series of film screenings will be coming to Bristol Cathedral, all of which have a theological aspect. The films will be introduced by guest speakers from across the city.

Pliosaurus! at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Participatory Event
Pliosaurus! at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Let's take you back in time, 150 million years ago to be precise…

Clifton Rocks Railway
Participatory Event
Clifton Rocks Railway

Go and learn about the history of Clifton Rocks railway. Follow its evolution from Victorian funicular railway 1891-1934, through to wartime conversion to shelters, barrage balloon workshop and BBC transmitting station.

Bristol Doors Open Days
Participatory Event
Bristol Doors Open Days

All Saints Church

From dusk to dawn, from towers to tunnels, explore the city as never before with Bristol Doors Open Day

Black History Month in Bristol
Participatory Event
Black History Month

Black History Month is a month of events in October which celebrate the culture, history and achievement of Britain’s African and Caribbean communities.

Journey to Justice exhibition at Bristol Cathedral
Exhibition
Journey to Justice exhibition at Bristol Cathedral

This multi-media installation is focused on the US civil rights movement, its music and the extraordinary stories of some of the lesser known women, men and children involved

Bristol Family Arts Festival
School Holiday
Bristol Family Arts Festival

Bristol Family Arts Festival returns this October for a month long citywide celebration of creativity. Taking place at venues across the city, the programme is packed full with creative activities for all ages.

Circus City Festival Bristol
Performance
Circus City

Circus City - Bristol's biennial circus festival - is back this October (12 to 29) with something for everyone - theatre lovers, party animals, punks, swing dancers, science geeks, jazz fans...the list goes on an on!

Family Heritage Day at St George's Bristol
Heritage
Family Heritage Day at St George's Bristol

In Spring 2018 St George's Bristol will be launching a new interactive heritage interpretation space, where visitors can discover the amazing story of this 'Hall on the Hill'. They would love to offer you a little sneak preview… Come and join them for a day of spellbinding stories, local legends and marvellous makes, all inspired by the history of this beautiful building.