As every festival-lover will know, Glastonbury is taking a break in 2018, but revellers need not despair because Bristol is where it’s at for summer festivals. In fact, there’s a festival for everything in Bristol, from ballooning to street art, cider to Shakespeare.

Here are our top Bristol festival picks for the coming months...

Bristol Food Connections (11 to 17 June)

The citywide Bristol Food Connections festival features more than 100 events this year, with highlights including a festival launch dinner centring around chocolate, a night market at St Nicks (Friday 15 June) and gin tastings at Brunel’s SS Great Britain with 6 O’clock Gin.

Blah’s Big Weekend (15 to 17 June)

Three days of spoken word, poetry and music takes place in the Wardrobe Theatre in Old Market. Visitors will be treated to funny ditties, word battles between poets and rappers, and some of the South West’s best emerging young talent.

Averys Summer of Wine (16 June)

Averys has had a shop in Bristol since 1793 and 2018 marks their 225th year of trading. Over the years the family has built its reputation as one of the UK’s most pioneering wine merchants. Become a wine aficionado with unlimited tastings, meet-the-winemaker sessions and free wine masterclasses at Colston Hall.

Cider Salon Bristol (22 to 24 June)

Come and be part of history as Bristol asserts its claim to be the UK’s City of Cider over a weekend of city-wide events. The main event takes place on 23 June at The Old Market Assembly and will feature some of the best ciders of the South West and beyond.

The Festival of Fishes at Bristol Aquarium (21 July to 2 September)

Come to a summer festival like no other at Bristol Aquarium. Delve beneath the waves to find out about the different species that live there.

Bristol Pride (2 to 15 July)

The city’s annual celebration of the LGBT+ community is the largest free Pride in the UK. This year’s festival programme spans two weeks and promises to be a diverse and colourful mix of cabaret, comedy, poetry and…dog shows! The festival culminates with the Pride Day Festival weekend (14-15 July), with one of the highlights a huge Pride Day parade (14 July) through the streets of Bristol followed by an open-air music festival in Lloyd’s Amphitheatre and Millennium Square from midday. Alexandra Burke is this year’s headliner.

Bristol Zoo Gardens - Friday Twilights (dates in July and August)

There’s a festival feel at these popular after-hours events - back for selected dates in summer. Shimmy to live music on the lawn, listen to twilight animal talks, have your face painted and listen to the lions roaring as the sun sets.

St Paul’s Carnival 50th anniversary (7 July)

Colourful costumes, music, dance and food are brought together in this spirited community celebration of African Caribbean culture and iconic Bristol event.

Bristol Shakespeare Festival (throughout July)

During this month-long festival, The Bard's plays are brought to life in some of Bristol’s prettiest spots around the city. This year, you’ll find various works of Shakespeare being performed in adventurous indoor and outdoor locations, including Much Ado about Nothing at Brandon Hill Bowling Green, Twelth Night at Windmill Hill City Farm and Love’s Labour’s Lost at Boiling Wells Amphitheatre. We’re also promised Hamlet the Musical, Bard busking and Impromptu Shakespeare.

Gromit Unleashed 2 (2 July -2 September)

Gromit’s back in Bristol this summer…and he’s not alone! More than 60 giant sculptures, each individually decorated, will be scattered around the city for Gromit-hunters to track down as part of Gromit Unleashed 2. For the first time (ever in the world), there will be not one, but three Academy Award®-winning Aardman animation studio characters taking part: the lovable pooch Gromit, his old pal Wallace and arch nemesis Feathers McGraw. If you’re in the city for a festival this summer then track down as many as you can during your trip. These hugely popular events help to raise money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal – Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity - while offering a fun way of exploring Bristol.

River Town 2018 (10 July to 5 August)

The sounds of the deep south are coming to the South West for two weeks of live blues, bluegrass, country and gospel! Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol – two of Bristol’s finest concert venues - are leading the Americana weekend, back for its fourth year and taking place venues at around the city.

Bristol Harbour Festival (20 to 22 July)

This annual dance, music and arts extravaganza around Bristol Harbourside is a family-friendly, must-do event for anyone seeking a free summer festival. This year’s festival will also see an exciting new sprint rowing event, Power8 Sprints from British Rowing. The event will see men’s and women’s rowing teams racing in eights – the blue riband events at the Olympic Games – with top club rowers from across the country. In addition there’ll also be comedy, aerial acts, circus performers, a dance village, live music, markets and general nautical fun.

Festival of What If at We The Curious (Thursday 26 July to Tuesday 31 July)

We The Curious summer season begins with an exciting six day festival. There’ll be inspirational activities, art, music, comedy, pop-up cafés and some very special guests. In the Planetarium, explore space in superb new show ‘Solar System Odyssey’ and book early for special Aardman clay modelling workshops and learn to make your very own Gromit. Over the rest of the summer holidays We The Curious is focussing on inventing, creating and making discoveries, exploring the question ‘What if I could change the world?

Upfest (28 to 30 July)

Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival is back for a 10th anniversary special with artists from all over the globe joining the city’s own to paint giant murals on over 40 south Bristol buildings. This year, festival-goers will be treated to renowned artist interpretations of The Simpsons - including Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Matt Groening himself has handpicked three Upfest artists to create special Simpsons inspired pieces for the event. Live painting, music, street food and art workshops make this a visually spectacular family event that leaves a vibrant outdoor art gallery as its legacy…until next year when the transformation begins again. 

Valley Fest (3-5 August)

Get those dancing wellies on for Valley Fest which takes place in a beautiful location overlooking Chew Valley Lake in the Mendip hills. As well as lots of family-friendly activities, including veg picking, kids yoga, a farm academy, kids raves, storytelling, parade and an eclectic mix of music, there's a big food focus too and the festival declares itself 100% organic. Look out for demonstrations from local chefs, producers and farmers, plus a gourmet organic Midnight Feast and giant communal picnic. Oodles of fun in a field.

Valley Fest - summer festivals

Hoo-ha! Festival (16 to 18 August)

Get the family ready for some rollicking fun, musical mayhem, games, workshops and silly shenanigans at Colston Hall’s festival for kids. Performances also take place at Bristol Folk House on Park Street. Hoo-Ha! promises playful performances and hands-on activities for all ages.

40th year of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (9 to 12 August)

One of the highlights of the summer calendar - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta celebrates its 40th  birthday this year. This free four-day family-friendly event is the largest of its kind in Europe, with mass ascents of over 130 hot air balloons scheduled for early morning and teatime each day, nightglow shows and fireworks. Visitors can also expect fairground rides, entertainment, live music and awe-inspiring aerial displays, all set in the beautiful grounds of Ashton Court Estate.

The Downs Festival (1 September)

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paul Weller and Orbital make up part of the sizzling line-up of acts announced for this one-day music concert on Clifton Downs beside the dramatic Avon Gorge. The Information Stage will host panel discussions and debates on the burning issues of the day to inform and inspire discussions. 

The Coffee House Project (7-8 September)

The Coffee House Project, to be held at The Passenger Shed, is Bristol’s first ever coffee festival; a caffeine-fuelled celebration of the best cups of Joe Bristol and the South West has to offer. The festival focuses on local, artisan roasters, independent food and drink retailers and home-grown baristas. 50 exhibitors are expected, including Clifton Coffee Roasters, Girls who Grind Coffee and Extract Coffee.

Bristol Doors Open Days (14-16 Sept)

Bristol Doors Open Days is a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city's treasures, normally hidden from public view. During Bristol’s annual celebration of architecture, history and culture, you can explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of creative events and activities – all for free!

To discover more about year-round Bristol’s festivals, please visit https://visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on/festivals.

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Cider Salon Bristol
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Come and have a weekend of tastings, talks and dinners across selected independent venues in the West Country's capital of cider.

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Learn all about the different species that live beneath the waves and celebrate their weird and wonderful ways of living.

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Ever wanted to hear the howl or gibbons or the roar of lions as the sun sets? This summer you can, with Bristol Zoo's Friday Twilights.

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Bristol Pride is an annual celebration of the LGBT+ community.

St Pauls Carnival
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2018 sees St Pauls Carnival return in style, celebrating 50 years since the first carnival in 1968. This iconic Bristol event represents the best of African Caribbean culture, as well as the diversity, creativity and vibrancy of its home city.

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The Bristol Shakespeare Festival is annual festival taking place throughout the month of July, hosting performances and events inspired by the Bard in alfresco and unusual spaces across Bristol.

Gromit Unleashed 2
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The public art trails will feature over 60 giant sculptures of popular characters dotted around the city from 2 July-2 September 2018.

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This annual dance, music and arts extravaganza returns to the Harbourside from 20-22 July 2018 for a weekend of nautical family fun.

Upfest
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Europe’s largest live street art and graffiti festival, Upfest will be celebrating the event’s 10th anniversary.

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The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 150 Hot Air Balloons from across the globe. The Fiesta truly is a sight that can only be seen in Bristol.

The Downs Festival
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Outdoor music concert on the Clifton Downs with a main stage of live music, a stage of electronic performance, smaller venues with panel discussions, film and art, food, alcohol and soft drink concessions, children’s entertainment and decorations throughout the site.

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