If dancing outdoors to live music, tucking into delicious street food and sipping a pint of cider in the sunshine sound like your idea of fun, read on...Bristol has festivals taking place all year-round, but the city’s love of celebrating carnival style really hots up during the summer. In fact, there’s a festival for everything in Bristol, from ballooning to street art, cider to cinema. Avoid any inkling of Glastonbury FOMO with our Bristol festival picks for the coming months:

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.

Walkfest - Bristol festival summer line-up

Image - Walkfest Bridging Town and Country - credit Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust

Foodies Festival Bristol (10-12 May)

The UK’s biggest food festival takes place on Bristol’s Durdham Downs. Watch top chefs baking live (including MasterChef 2014 Champion Ping Coombes and Michelin-starred chef Geroge Livesy from Bristol’s Bulrush) and sharing culinary tips, feast in the Street Food Village, tuck into sweet treats in the Cakes and Desserts Theatre, buy goodies from local artisan producers and boogie along to live music from Scouting For Girls, Queen tribute act Flash and a whole host of emerging musicians.

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

This two-day festival on Millennium Square offers visitors an experience of Thailand, through its delicious food and heritage, traditional dances, costume catwalk, live music, family entertainment and Thai boxing. Be sure to try a Thai beer in festival beer garden!

Upfest Summer Editions (15 April-20 October)

Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival is taking a break in 2019, but Upfest lovers needn’t despair as Upfest Summer Editions will offer Bristol’s street art fans and city visitors the chance to witness spectacular new works of art being created across Bedminster. Between April and October, renowned graffiti artists will live paint a series of large murals across South Bristol at pop-up intervals over the summer months, including some of the biggest walls in the area (Tobacco Factory and Redpoint Climbing Centre).

Upfest sessions - bristol festival summer lineup

Image - Jody Upfest 2018, photo by Feral Things

Cider Salon Bristol (7-9 June)

Where better to drink down thy cider and sample a few more, than in the city of cider itself? The Cider Salon will host a weekend of talks, tastings and dinners at spaces across Bristol. Alongside the main tasting event, there will also be a city-wide programme of fringe activities.

Bristol Food Connections (12-23 June)

The citywide Bristol Food Connections festival features over 100 events this year, with highlights including a Butcombe Beer Cruise (20 & 22 June), Valley Fest Wake Up Rave (14 June), Trendy Afternoon Tea with GBBO contestant Briony May (16 June) and a workshop with Bristol’s celebrity chef, Josh Eggleton (16 June).

Bristol Sounds (26-29 June)

Get ready to dance on the dockside at this Bristol Sounds’ series of al fresco, Harbourside gigs. The glittering line-up features Tom Misch (26 June), The Cat Empire (27 June), Bloc Party (28 June), Elbow (29 June) and The Cinematic Orchestra, (30 June).

Bristol Sounds - Bristol's summer festival line-up

Image - Bristol Sounds, credit Paul Box

River Town (11 June-28 July)

The sounds of the deep south are coming to the South West for two weeks of live blues, bluegrass, country and gospel! Colston Hall, St George’s Bristol, SWX, The Winston Theatre at Bristol University SU and The Crofters Rights are hosting the Americana weekend, with two performances at The Forum in Bath. Musicians on the bill include Grammy award-winning pop and country superstar k.d. Lang, country rock icon Lucinda Williams, Hollywood legend and star of the hit TV show 24 Kiefer Sutherland, plus lots more!

Bristol Shakespeare Festival (1-31 July)

During this month-long festival, The Bard's plays are brought to life in unusual spaces around Bristol, including some of the prettiest open-air spots in the city. This year, you’ll find various works of Shakespeare being performed in adventurous indoor and outdoor locations including Walkabout by the Natural Theatre Company at Brunel’s SS Great Britain (7-10 July), Caliban’s Codex (Toby Belch is unwell) on an 82-year-old traditional narrowboat (9-14 July), A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Sun & Moon Theatre at St George Park and Romeo & Juliet from Heartbreak Productions on Brandon Hill Bowling Green.

Bristol Shakespeare Festival - Bristol festival summer lineup

Image - Bristol Shakespeare Festival

Bristol Comedy Garden (3-7 July)

Get ready to laugh yourselves silly over a cider or two in Queen Square. Bursting with bars, gourmet street food and a whole lot of good times, the comedy wonderland returns to the city with an outrageously good line-up. Kicking this year off in hilarious style is 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown team captain Sean Lock with the legendary Stewart Lee headlining the festival finale on Sunday night. Inbetween, don’t miss US stand-up sensation and star of Channel 4’s ‘Catastrophe’ Rob Delaney, the multi award-winning Sara Pascoe, Mash Report host Nish Kumar, observational master Ed Byrne, plus many more hysterically good comedians.

St Pauls Carnival (6 July)

Celebrate the best of Afro-Carribbean culture at one of Bristol’s most iconic festivals, St Pauls Carnival. Expect lots of colourful costumes, an array of live acts showcasing music genres from dancehall, reggae and soca to dub, calypso and drum and bass and plenty of finger-lickin’ good food in this spirited community celebration.

Can’t wait until then? Get in carnival mood with the Carnival Takeover at Bristol Old Vic (4 May) in collaboration with smash hip production Barber Shop Chronicles.The event will feature African-inspired DJ sets, drumming and song, with craft activities throughout the foyer, and an Afrikan-Caribbean menu served at Bristol Old Vic’s lauded new restaurant, Bar and Cafe at Bristol Old Vic.

St Pauls Carnival

Image - St Pauls Carnival, credit David Tidman Photography

Bristol Pride (1-14 July)

Don your most fabulous outfit for an action-packed Bristol Pride fortnight – the largest free Pride in the UK. As well as theatre, comedy nights, parties, art exhibitions, gaming events and quizzes. The main Pride Day festival will take place on 13 July, kicking off with a rainbow-coloured march through the city and culminating in Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sonique, NINA, Saara Aalto, and Bristol’s own Dr Meaker serenading the crowds on The Downs - their new Pride Day Festival venue for 2019.

NASS Festival (11-14 July)

This adrenaline-fuelled action sports and music festival takes place at Royal Bath & West Showground. The line-up features a diverse musical offering of heavyweight music legends plus up-and-coming British talent in Drum and Bass, Dance, Hip Hop and Grime.  Alongside the music, global BMX and Skaters are brought together to battle it out for a top prize and title, against a backdrop created by some of the best street artists in the world.

Bristol Harbour Festival (19-21 July)

This annual family-friendly dance, music and arts extravaganza spans from Underfall Yard all the way to the Cascade Steps, Thekla and Queen Square. Bristol Harbour Festival kicks off on 18 July with Colston Hall presents New Order, who will take centre stage in outdoor waterfront venue, the Lloyd’s Amphitheatre, followed by a gig from The Specials in the same place the next day. As well as live music and entertainment throughout the festival, there’ll also be comedy, aerial acts, circus performers, a dance village, live music, markets and general nautical fun.

Cinema Rediscovered (25-28 July)

Cinema Rediscovered brings digital restorations, contemporary classics and some rarities from the archive and presents them to audiences in their full film glory on the big screen. The fourth edition of the festival will make the most of Watershed, Curzon Cinema and Arts in Clevedon & beyond.

Valley Fest (2-4 August)

Pull on your sparkly dancing wellies for this family-friendly foodie festival which takes place in the Mendip hills, overlooking Chew Valley Lake. As well as lots of fun activities for kids - think veg picking, kids yoga, a farm academy, mini raves, storytelling and childrens’ parade - there’s some big headliners this year, including Basement Jaxx, Razorlight, Tom Odell and a DJ set from Leftfield. Expect demonstrations from local chefs, producers and farmers, plus a gourmet organic Midnight Feast and giant communal picnic.

Valley Fest - Bristol summer festival line-up

Image - Valley Fest

Hoo-ha! Festival (August)

Get ready for rollicking family fun, musical mayhem, games, workshops and silly shenanigans at Colston Hall’s annual festival for kids. Hoo-Ha! promises playful performances and hands-on activities for all ages - watch this space for more details.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (8-11 August)

One of the highlights of the summer calendar, this free four-day family-friendly event is the largest of its kind in Europe, with mass ascents of over 100 hot air balloons scheduled for early morning and teatime each day, plus nightglow shows and fireworks. Visitors can look forward to fairground rides, entertainment, live music and awe-inspiring aerial displays, all set in the beautiful grounds of Ashton Court Estate.

Bristol balloon fiesta - bristol summer festival line-up

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

The Downs Festival (31 August)

Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones, Loyle Garner, IDLES and Neneh Cherry make up the sizzling line-up of acts announced for this highly-anticipated 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.

Madness on the Downs (1 September)

As part of the Downs Festival, Pop legends Madness will perform a one-off gig on The Downs! The event will also feature esteemed reggae DJ David Rodigan performing with the Outlook Orchestra, as well as the iconic Trojan Soundsystem.

Downs Festival - Bristol summer festival lineup

Image - Massive Attack, Downs Festival

The Coffee House Project (7-8 September)

A caffeine- fuelled celebration of the best coffee talent Bristol and the South West have to offer. The event is being held at The Passenger Shed with up to 50 exhibitors expected. Founding partners and event specialists, Louisa Parry and Sofia Simou have lived and breathed coffee culture around the world, but found nowhere quite like their home city of Bristol. This year’s festival will be disposable cup free with the support of KeepCup, whose ambition is for a disposable cup free world by 2023.

Bristol Doors Open Days (13-15 Sept)

Don't miss this 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!

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Bristol summer festival lineup


Bristol Walk Fest
Bristol Walk Fest 2019

Bristol Walk Fest will return this May with a COVID-19 secure edition offering digital excursions, signposts to a variety of walking routes and activities, step-counting incentives and, it is hoped, a choice of guided and themed walks catering for all ages, interests and fitness levels.