Bristol is positively bursting with things to do in May 2019 - from food, walking, drink and music festivals, to arty and sporting events, bank holiday and May Half Term fun, you'll need your diary at the ready to plan in all this springtime city fun.

Museums at night | Sport | Festivals | Art | Walking | Events | Music | Film | Half-Term | Food & drink | Theatre

Discover Bristol’s museums at night

Museums at Night: Tattoo Live at M Shed (16 May)

Themed around M Shed’s current exhibition Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed at M Shed (16 March - 16 June), their special Museums at Night evening will feature live music and live tattooing. Celebrating the rich artistic heritage of tattooing as an art form, chat to artists, dress up and show off your own tattoos!

Planetarium Nights at We The Curious

Wander into the giant silver ball for your very own night-time tour of the known universe in the UK's only 3D Planetarium on 2, 9 and 16 May. Or, for an audio-visual extravaganza, inspired by the music of Pink Floyd, watch abstract projections on the full dome in Dark Side of the Moon: The Fulldome Experience at We The Curious (3 & 17 May).

After Hours at RWA (21 May)

Experience the galleries after hours, with drinks, drop-in workshops, and three separate exhibitions to explore.

M shed tattoo exhibition

Image: British Tattoo Art Revealed at M Shed

Watch a sporting event

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (1-5 May)

Badminton Horse Trials take place at Gloucestershire’s beautiful Badminton Estate and are one of the most prestigious events in the equestrian calendar.

The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour (4 May)

The people of Bristol will get a chance to see the trophy up close and personal as it visits the city for a ‘Super Saturday’ event in Broadmead.

England v Pakistan ODI 2019 at The Brightside Ground (14 May)

Gloucestershire Cricket will host England and Pakistan (be England’s first opponents of the home international season) in a One-Day International at Bristol’s The Brightside Ground as both countries prepare for the ICC Cricket World Cup which starts on 30 May 2019.

Afghanistan v Pakistan - 2019 ICC World Cup warm up game at The County Ground (24 May)

This high- profile clash sees Afghanistan take on Pakistan at Bristol County Ground.

Things to do in May Bristol - Cricket

Image - The Brightside Ground, Bristol

Hang out at a festival

Bespoked - The UK Handmade Bicycle Show at Brunel's Old Station (3-5 May 2019)

Fancy yourself as a bit of a pedalhead? Bespoked is THE place to meet and celebrate independent makers and designers of all things handmade-bicycle-related.

Bristol Folk Festival (3-5 May)

Check out grass-roots talent when the best of the UK’s folk scene take to stages across Bristol.

Glos Road Central Mayfest (4 May)

A family fun day of live music, facepainting, creative activities, community stalls and food  and drink.

CrimeFest (9-12 May)

Summon your inner Miss Marple at CrimeFest - for people who like to read the occasional crime novel as well as die-hard whodunnit fanatics. Special guests this year include the Agatha Raisin team featuring Ashley Jensen and Robert Thorogood (creator of Death in Paradise).

Foodies Festival (10-12 May)

The UK’s biggest food festival takes place on Bristol’s Durdham Downs. Feast in the Street Food Village, take a foodie masterclass, chow down on sweet treats in the Cakes and Desserts Theatre, buy from local artisan producers and dance along to live music from Scouting For Girls, plus tons more!

Scouting for Girls - Foodies festival]

Image - Scouting for Girls

Bristol Thai and Multi-Cultural Food Festival (11-12 May)

Experience a taste of Thailand, through its delicious food and heritage, traditional dances, a costume catwalk and Thai boxing.

The Gert Lush – Bristol and The South West’s First Annual Vintage Bike Festival (19 May)

A family-friendly vintage cycling event featuring two rides (of 35 and 65 miles) through the Somerset countryside and up into the Mendip hills as well as old-time music, a vintage bike jumble, vintage bikes and cream teas at their Event Village.

Pint of Science Bristol (20-22 May)

Expand your mind over a pint at this annual science festival that delivers accessible scientific talks to the public in a pub.

Dot to Dot Festival (25 May) 

Discover the stars of tomorrow in another line-up of ground-breaking acts in intimate spaces across the city. The xx, Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons and The 1975 have all performed in previous years.

Love Saves The Day (25-26 May)

Dig out your sparkliest neon outfit and head to Eastville Park for the late May bank holiday weekend. The festival features big names including Lily Allen and Chase & Status headlining Saturday and Sunday respectively. The festival continues into the night with Love Saves The Night at Motion (25 May)

Loves Saves the Day festival

Image - Lost Gardens, Love Saves the Day 2018

Art in the city

Spike Island Open Studios (3-6 May)

Spike Island Open Studios sees artists and tenants throw open their doors and invite you in to explore the working environments of hundreds of artists, designers and creative businesses.

North Somerset Arts Week 2019 (3-12 May)

This 10 day arts trail includes over 40 venues and 200 artists within the North Somerset region. Pick up your copy of the Arts Week brochure from local shops and libraries, or download it from the North Somerset Arts website: 

Spike Island Open studios - things to do in May

Image - Spike Island Open Studios

Walking tours

Bristol Walk Fest (1-31 May)

Bristol Walk Fest offers tons of ways to explore the city and surrounding area on foot. Check out our Bristol Walk Fest highlights blog for an overview of some of the events on offer.

Blood and Butchery in Bedminster (7, 14, 21, 28 May)

Delve deep into Bedminster’s gruesome history and how its pubs play a key role in these stories; including tales of body snatchers, concrete coffins, hangings judges and the most notorious heist in living memory.  

Arnos Vale Cemetery

Arnos Vale Cemetery’s popular ‘Morbid Curiousity’ and ‘Murder, Mayhem and Mystery’ tours (10 May) offer the chance to find out how the graveyard’s inhabitants died. Expect stories of murder, rioting, adultery and more. Or discover the stories of Bristol's Wonderful Women (4 May).

/Bridging Town and Country Bristol Walk Fest

Image - Bridging Town and Country, Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust, Bristol Walk Fest

One-off events

Carnival Takeover at Bristol Old Vic (4 May)

St Pauls Carnival will take over Bristol Old Vic’s front of house spaces to celebrate the two month countdown to this year’s carnival and join the smash hit production of Barber Shop Chronicles. Starting at midday on 4 May, this explosion of arts and culture will feature African-inspired DJ sets, drumming and song, with craft activities throughout the foyer, and an Afrikan-Caribbean menu served by Bristol’s latest food hotspot, 1766 Bar & Kitchen. This free event is wrapped around two performances of Barber Shop Chronicles at 2.30pm and 7.30pm with tickets available from £11.50.

Clifton Rocks Railway Open Day (11 May)

Hear the story of why this Victorian funicular Railway was built and how it was converted for use during the War.

Wild Outdoors Day at Windmill Hill City Farm (18 May)

Wild Outdoors Day is the farm’s annual celebration of nature and all things outdoorsy.

Doreen Doreen and Mark Olver at Penny Brohn (19 May)

For one night only Penny Brohn UK is delighted to host two of Bristol's finest acts; Doreen Doreen and Mark Olver & friends.

Wookey Hole Ghost Hunt (18-19 May)

Uncover the many mysteries of Wookey holes network of caves in this real ghost hunt!

Clifton Rocks Railway - things to do in bristol in May

Image - Clifton Rocks Railway

Live music gigs

Summer Sessions: Norman Jay at Bambalan (5 May)

Bambalan will be kicking off a bank holiday with great vibes on their terrace with a very exclusive day time party, headlined by the legendary Norman Jay MBE.

Chineke! Orchestra at St George's Bristol (17 May)

Chineke! is St George’s resident orchestra and one of Europe’s first professional orchestras comprising a majority of black and minority ethnic musicians.

Bambalan terrace

Image - Bambalan terrace


Game of Thrones screening at King Street Brew House (13 May)

Join King Street Brew House for all the Game of Thrones action.

Bristol Film Festival

Bristol Film Festival’s clever programming sees movies matched with Bristol settings. Screenings in May include Fantasy (27 May), A Career in Film and Homesitters at M Shed on 27 May.

May Half Term

We’ll be putting together an extensive May half term blog on all the family events going on in Bristol, but here’s a sneak peek at a few!

International cricket and the SS Great Britain at Brunel's SS Great Britain (25 May – 21 July)

Cricket teams from across the world will be flying to England and Wales for the Cricket World Cup in summer 2019. But 158 years ago, they would have travelled very differently…

Wildlife Week at Cheddar Gorge & Caves (25 May – 2 June)

Go wild for wildlife this May half term with activities, animals and much more.

Make a promise to the planet at We The Curious  (25 May - 2 June)

It’s all about climate action at Bristol’s science centre this holiday – get involved with activities, shows and ground-breaking social reality experience REWILD Our Planet.

Magnificent Medieval Merriment with the Company of Chivalry at Berkeley Castle (26-27 May)

Lords, ladies, gunpowder, soldiers' drills, living history, music, candle-making and cookery demonstrations with the fantastic backdrop of a beautiful medieval Castle.

A very Victorian birthday party at Tyntesfield (27-31 May)

Celebrate William Gibbs' birthday with fun family activities, crafts and party games this May half term.

Onwards & Upwards at The Wardrobe Theatre (28 May – 1 June)

This May Half Term INKBLOC Ensemble (Lego Beach) present a charming family adventure inspired by three female explorers, for ages 4-11 and their families.

Brunel's SS Great Britain

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain

Food and drink

East Bristol Brewery Trail (4-5 May)

Beer, Bristol, Bank Holiday - you're winning! Once again five of Bristol's best breweries roll up the shutters to welcome you all to their 'hood - win a prize if you get round all of them!

St Nick's Night Market (10 May)

The first St Nick's Night Market of 2019 will be bringing the Old City to life once again with a feast for all the senses. Exceptional street food traders, superb producers and purveyors of local tipples will be joined by DJs courtesy of Wanted Records and Dont Test Bristol and live music curated by Colston Hall.

Beer & Cheese Festival at The Wild Beer Co (11 May)

Wild Beer Co and Westcombe Dairy are once again teaming up to bring you a family-friendly festival filled with beer, cheese and fun at Lower Westcombe Farm.

Moor Beer

Image - Moor Beer

See a spring theatre show

Bristol Hippodrome

Matilda The Musical at The Bristol Hippodrome (7 May-8 June)

Don’t miss Matilda The Musical, the multi-award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by Roald Dahl’s well-loved book.

  • Find out what else is on at Bristol Hippodrome in May here.

Redgrave Theatre

Crazy for You at The Redgrave Theatre (1-4 May)

Join Bristol Musical Theatre for an action-packed, hilarious storyline, featuring a fabulous Gershwin score with plenty of well-known musical numbers.

  • See what else is on at Redgrave Theatre in May here.

Tobacco Factory Theatres

Keep on Walking Frederico at Tobacco Factory Theatres (1-4 May)

Mark Lockyer’s Living with the Lights On played has been critically acclaimed by critics and audiences from Bristol to Barcelona.

  • Discover what else is on at Tobacco Factory Theatres in May here.

Bristol Old Vic

Barber Shop Chronicles at Bristol Old Vic (2-18 May)

One day. Six cities. A thousand stories. This dynamic new play leaps from a barber shop in London to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

  • See more shows at Bristol Old Vic in May here.

Matilda - Bristol

Image - Matilda the Musical, credit Manuel Harlan

For even more things to do in May in Bristol (yes there are EVEN more), check out our What's On Pages.

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Things to do in Bristol in May 2019