Make 2018 the year you try something new, conquer your fears or master your craft! Bristol has plenty of ways to help you enhance your personal repertoire – from salsa dancing lessons to street art workshops, cookery to circus skills classes. We’ve put together a little list to get you inspired…

Music | Sport | Out-of-the-ordinary | Arts & Crafts | Animal Experiences | Face your fear | Drink | Food | | History

Music

  • Learn to Salsa

Bristol Jazz and blues festival

Image - Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival

On 18 March, Colston Hall becomes an electric Havana nightclub for one night only as part of the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival. Throughout the evening, the Dockside All-Stars will be playing a selection of classic Salsa, Mambo and Cha-Cha. Included is a FREE Salsa dance class before the show, so get ready to wiggle those hips!

Many of the performers visiting the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival will also be sharing their talents and expertise in a series of Masterclasses. These include guitar, percussion and blues masterclasses, a breathing rhythms workshop as well as a ‘Funk 101’ masterclass with legend, Pee Wee Ellis.

Click here to see more Bristol festivals

Sport

  • Learn to climb

Climbing Redpoint

Image - Redpoint Climbing Centre

Bristol has an enviable choice of climbing opportunities. The indoor wall at Redpoint Climbing Centre allows novices to try climbing taster sessions or beginners’ courses, while seasoned climbers can learn to lead or brush up on skills at a monthly Coaching Workshop.

Bristol-based Adventurous Activity Company offers everything from a high ropes course to abseiling and rock climbing. Or you could try ‘adventure caving’ with Cheddar Gorge X-treme, who promise to have you climbing rock faces and exploring hidden, underground caverns in no time.

You could also try climbing the rigging at Brunel’s SS Great Britain or taking a thrilling, swinging Leap of Faith at Wild Place Project.

For more information on climbing in Bristol click here

  • Try paddle boarding

Paddleboarding

Image - Paddleboarding, credit Carolyn Eaton

Explore Bristol’s historic waterways on a paddleboard with SUP Bristol's expert instructors to guide you.  Work those muscles as you glide past Brunel’s SS Great Britain, drift below Clifton’s rainbow-coloured houses, float alongside The Matthew and meander past the striking M Shed cranes.

  • Go canoeing  

For a fun and alternative way of seeing the city’s sights, hop aboard one of Adventurous Activity Company’s large, open Canadian-style canoes. Learn the techniques, then take a tour through the heart of Bristol.

  • Get on yo’ bike

Pedal progression bristol

Image - Pedal Progression

Adrenalin-seekers should head to the beautiful Ashton Court Estate or Leigh Woods for some of the best purpose-built mountain bike trails in the West Country. Pedal Progression offer mountain bike hire, skills coaching and guided mountain bike rides. 

For pootling around the city on two wheels, hop on a YoBike for just £1 an hour – you’ll find them located all over Bristol. A bit like Uber for bikes, simply download the app, locate your nearest bike and drop it off at designated parking spot.

Out-of-the-ordinary

  • Blow Glass

Bristol blue glass

Image - Bristol Blue Glass

Why not attempt something unusual? Watch glass being blown using methods that are over 300 years old at Bristol Blue Glass before giving it a go yourself!  

  • Circus skills

This year Bristol has been selected as one of the Six Cities of Circus for the international celebration of 250 years of Circus as an art form – making it the perfect place to learn breath-taking, gravity-defying circus skills! Circomedia run courses and classes for all ages and abilities - choose from trapeze, aerial hoop, rope and silks and acrobatics. If you’re not sure what circus skill you want to learn, then you can book onto one of their taster sessions and try your hand at a range of activities.

Arts & Crafts

Spike Island

Image - Spike Island

The Royal West of England Academy runs drawing classes that cater for all levels and abilities. Explore drawing, printing, painting and photography, amongst many other creative activities in this wonderfully inspiring environment. 

Windmill Hill City Farm provides a selection of educational courses throughout the year. Upcoming workshops include life drawing, art and craft, pattern making and sewing, silver and copper jewellery-making, writing and poetry, stained glass workshops and yoga.

Spike Island offer a huge range of arty courses, covering everything from screenprinting to Japanese wood block printing to advanced etching, pulp pouring and textile printing.

Arts, crafts, photography, pottery, writing, languages, fitness – Bristol Folk House run a whole caboodle of courses for your learning pleasure. Be sure to replenish all that spent brain power with something delicious at the Folk House Café.

Arnos Vale Cemetery hosts a wide variety of educational experiences and family activities throughout the year. Forthcoming classes include Jumpfit, yoga, pilates, stained glass window workshops and a photography workshop.

Events and workshops run throughout the year at the beautiful Westonbirt The National Arboretum, from free guided walks to tree-discovering events. Look out for the Mindfulness Photography Workshop – the next one takes place on 27 January.

  • Become wise in the ways of street art

Graft

Image - Graft

If you’re looking for a fun, creative, truly Bristol experience, Graft run graffiti workshops and tours led by professional graffiti artists. Get an insight into the history of Bristol graffiti, as well as the chance to develop skills with spraycans and paint markers.

Take a street art tour of the city with Where the Wall before ‘getting your hands on the cans’ with one of their Street Art Stencil Art Drop-In & Spray Sessions.

Animal Experiences

  • Learn bush craft skills

camp baboon bush craft

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

Make like Bear Grylls and brush up on your bush craft skills at Wild Place’s Camp Baboon. Book an overnight stay for exclusive after hour’s tours, unique animal encounters, bush craft activities and entry into Wild Place and Bristol Zoo Gardens, where you can learn more about hundreds of different species.

  • Get up close to exotic animals

Camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

Ever wondered what it’s like being a zookeeper for a day? Now you can find out! Go behind-the-scenes with a Zookeeper on an experience day at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project or Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

For those with a strong interest in Conservation, Bristol zoo are also running evening classes (18 Jan – 8 March), run by a variety of Bristol Zoo professionals. The course offers the opportunity to get up close to unique zoo resources, including some living ones!

  • Gain top gardening tips

Bristol zoo

Image - Bristol Zoo's award-winning gardens

Horticulture enthusiasts will love Bristol Zoo's new gardener experience – a full day’s gardening with a member of their award-winning gardening team.

Face your fear

Get over your fear of spiders at Bristol Zoo Gardens. The four-hour course, delivered jointly by a hypnotherapist and a member of the Zoo Education team, includes a range of approaches, including talks, relaxation, hypnotherapy and a non-compulsory meeting with their friendly spiders.

Conquer your fear of flying with Easyjet Bristol. The Fearless flyer courses are held at Mercure Grand Hotel in Bristol City Centre (17 & 18 March). The Experience Flight will take off from (and land back at) Bristol Airport at 10am on 18 March and will last a maximum of 1 hour.

Drink

Milk thistle

Image - cocktails at The Milk Thistle 

Experience all the steps of the gin-making process from botanicals to bottling at the 6 O'Clock Gin distillery. Your evening will include a tutored tasting.

Distil your own gin with Psychopomp Gin, a small independent Bristol distillery. The sessions begin with a tutored tasting followed by recipe development. Participants then distil their own full-size bottle of gin to take home whilst enjoying the occasional G&T.

Go adventuring on a gin safari! Andy Hamilton gets you foraging for your own botanicals before instructing you on how to make your own gin using the plants that you have picked. 

Grab your beer-loving buddies for a Bath Ales Brewery Tour and discover how they create Gem, Wild Hare and Special Pale Ale from malt, hops and water. Catering for groups of 12 to 25 people, tours include a generous tasting of their beers and a goodie bag.

Become wise in the ways of Bristol beer, explore ale-tastic pubs, microbreweries and tap rooms on a Bristol Hoppers tour. 

For an insight into brewery life and the history of brewing in Bedminster, join Bristol Beer Factory's Brewery Tours, held on the last Tuesday of every month.

Bristol Brewery School run a range of classes on all things beer – from a brewing crash course to ingredients courses. What’s more, you’ll be treated to breakfast pastries, lunch and that all important sampling.  

Find out how to brew your own glorious beer with Brewhouse and Kitchen Brewery Experience Day. 

Book onto a Moor Beer or Butcombe Brewery Tour and see them work their magic.

Craft beer festival

Image - Craft Beer Festival

Become a wine aficionado in the fabulous historic cellars of Averys Wine Merchants. 2018 marks their 225th anniversary – so they know a thing or two about vino. Tastings feature a wide range of wines from around the world, accompanied by cheese and pâté.

Learn how to mix and muddle delicious prohibition style cocktails with The Milk Thistle’s award-winning bartenders in a cocktail masterclass.

Food

  • Take a tour

Get to know Bristol one bite at a time on an EatWalkTalk Bristol Food Tour. Learn more about Bristol's cultural heritage, fantastic local produce, meat, seafood and sweet treats while sampling its fabulous foodie hot spots.

  • Cookery classes

Learn tips and tricks for artisan crafts and food preparation skills at Source Café in Bristol’s Old City. Source offers regular Basic Butchery, Fish filleting and Basic charcuterie, plus seasonal courses.

History

Bristol museums run special workshops and events alongside their regular programme. Keep an eye on their What’s On page for curated film evenings, workshops, social media training days, historical walks, talks and lots of other special events.

Related

Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival
Performance
Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival 2018

From swing to funk, bebop to blues, Gypsy jazz to gospel, soul to rock ‘n roll, Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival never fails to surprise and delight music lovers

Redpoint Climbing Centre
Sport/Leisure Centre
Redpoint Climbing Centre

The state of the art climbing centre offers a fantastic facility for both visitors and locals alike. With roped and bouldering walls from 3-12.5m there is plenty for all ages and abilities.

Adventurous Activity Company
Activity Centre
A canoeing trip on Bristol's Harbourside

A range of outdoor activities in central Bristol, including mountain biking, climbing, abseiling, canoeing and orienteering.

SUP Bristol - Stand Up Paddleboarding
Outdoor Activity/Pursuit Centre
SUP Bristol - Stand Up Paddleboarding

Try stand up paddleboarding with SUP Bristol and see Bristol Floating Harbour from a truly unique angle. Explore the vibrant and historic Harbourside with SUP Bristol's expert and enthusiastic instructors to show you the ropes.

Pedal Progression
Cycle
Pedal Progression

Pedal Progression are a mountain bike hire and skills coaching company who offer groups the chance to let off steam or just enjoy a gentle pedal around the beautiful Ashton Court estate.

The Original Bristol Blue Glass - Studio/Shop
Factory Outlet
The Original Bristol Blue Glass - Studio/Shop

Take a factory tour, see glass blowing demos from the public viewing gallery or just browse the gallery shop

Royal West of England Academy
Gallery
Royal West of England Academy of Arts Ruffin-Ferraby-Taylor-LLP

Bristol's first art gallery, housing over 1200 works of art from 19th century to the present day, a coffee shop and a small gift shop.

Windmill Hill City Farm
Adventure Park/Playground
City Farm Allotment.jpg

Windmill Hill City Farm is a voluntary community project seeking to meet the needs of local people through a range of social, environmental and educational activities.

Spike Island
Arts Centre
Spike Island

A unique centre devoted to the production and exhibition of the contemporary visual arts, as well as a great café space

Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust
Cemetery/Mausoleum
Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust

Step into a secret world and discover 45 green acres where the history of Bristol is told in a leafy and tranquil setting.

Westonbirt The National Arboretum
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Westonbirt Arboretum

Arboretum with over 16,000 rare and beautiful trees, all set in 600 glorious, easy-to-stroll Cotswold acres

Graft
Walking Tour
Graft

Learn about Bristol’s rich graffiti heritage and have a go yourself on their unique graffiti workshops and tours.

Where the Wall's Graffiti Workshop Bristol
Art – Paintings and Drawings
Where the Wall's Graffiti Workshop Bristol

Come and spray your own street art souvenir art work and take it home

Wild Place Project
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Zebra

The Wild Place Project is Bristol’s new affordable and fun family attraction that will provide adventure, play and learning.

Bristol Zoo Gardens
Animal Collection
Ring-tailed Lemur with baby

A visit to this city zoo is your passport for a day trip into an amazing world of animals, exhibits and other attractions

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
Zoo
Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm incorporating both zoo and farm animals, with café, shop, indoor and outdoor play areas and plenty of parking offering a day out for all the family. Just 20 minutes from Weston-super-Mare.

Bramley and Gage Ltd
Distillery
6 O'clock Gin & Tonic

A micro distillery with monthly tours.

Bath Ales Brewery Tours
Brewery
Bath Ales Brewery Tours

Get a first-hand taste for how we turn malt, hops and water into the gorgeousness that is Gem, Wild Hare and Special Pale Ale

Bristol Hoppers
Walking Tour
Bristol Hoppers

A guided walk through Bristol’s sights & craft beer scene. Each tour includes tastings at a brewery tap room or microbrewery, beers at their best pubs & some local history.

Averys Wine Cellars and Shop
Shop

Park Street bottle shop and stunning cellar shop in original vaulted wine cellars.

The Milk Thistle
Bar
The Milk Thistle

Housed over four floors in one of the finest historic buildings in the city, The Milk Thistle incorporates a cocktail bar, lounge & private function rooms.

EatWalkTalk Bristol Food Tours
Walking Tour
EatWalkTalk Bristol Food Tours

A guided Walking Food Tour through Bristol Old City and Harbourside. Eat. Walk. Talk. The BEST WAY to discover Bristol, its history, culture and thriving food scene.