With new-for-2019 lights on King Street, the Old City has more Christmas sparkle than ever and is a splendid spot for firing up your festive spirit. Take a trip down the history-steeped streets and experience Bristmas to the max.

What is ‘Bristmas’? Buzzing bars and restaurants, Remarkable places to stay, Inspirational museums, Sensational shopping, Thrilling live entertainment, Magical markets, Amazing attractions and Spectacular celebrations.   

Buzzing bars and restaurants

There are festive feasts to be had at The Ox Bristol (cousin of cocktail bar The Milk Thistle, another one for your Old City hitlist), The Harbour Kitchen at the Harbour Hotel, Pieminister in St Nicholas Market, and Aqua on Welsh Back. If you’re planning to watch a bit of festive theatre at Bristol Old Vic, book in for pre-show bite from the Christmas menu at Bar and Cafe at Bristol Old Vic. And that’s barely scratching the surface of places to top up on tipples and tasty treats.

Winter venison dish from the 1766 Bar & Kitchen

Image credit: Bristol Old Vic

Remarkable places to stay

Some of the city’s most coveted hotels are found in the Old City. The Mercure Brigstow Hotel is loved for its waterfront location, while the stunningly restored building and street art décor at sister site the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel is equally sought-after.

Alongside traditional hotels there are choices like the boutique-style Brooks Guesthouse, serviced apartments in a Grade II-listed Edwardian building at SACO Bristol's West India House, and budget backpacker favourite the Rock and Bowl hostel.  

Bedroom at Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Image credit: Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Inspirational museums

Explore the only Palestine museum in Europe on Broad Street, where fascinating exhibits tell the story of Palestine, including connections with Bristol and the local community. Admire art by Palestinian and international artists in the gallery and check the Facebook page to see which events and screenings are on while you’re in town.

Exhibition at the Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre

Image credit: Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre 

Sensational shopping

Get your gift shopping sorted in no time at charming independent stores. Traditionally and locally made glass gifts and souvenirs can be found in The Original Bristol Blue Glass - Outlet Shop, and books and maps for adventurers and armchair travellers line the shelves at Stanfords.

For tempting edible treats, seasonal produce and hampers can be bought at Source Food Hall or visit longstanding chocolate maker (the only still standing in Bristol, in fact) Guilbert’s Chocolates for heavenly confectionery.  

Cheese counter at Source Food Hall

Image credit: Source Food Hall

Thrilling live entertainment

Colston Hall might be mid-transformation but the much-loved music venue is still organising must-see performances during December. Head to Rough Trade on Nelson Street to hear the hypnotic sounds of Penelope Isles (6 December) or folk rock singer Vetiver (16 December). Take a look through Colston Hall’s full Christmas programme here.

#MerryBristmas artwork by Bristol artists on Colston Hall

Magical markets

St Nicholas Market is the heart of the Old City that beats with extra cheer at Christmas time. Wind your way through the exchange hall, glass arcade and themed outdoor markets picking out presents and indulging in Christmassy food, as well as the covered market where a pop-up makers market is running until 21 December. Make an evening of it on 6 December for the festive edition of the night market.

More markets to soak up the merry atmosphere at are the Made in Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall (7 & 8 December), Framework Christmas Market at 35 King Street (7 December) and Stuffing at Centrespace Studios (14 December).

Plant stall at St Nick's Christmas Market

Image credit: St Nicholas Market 

Amazing attractions

The Old City is packed with characterful heritage buildings, including the ancient parish church St Stephen's Church – you’ll be able to spot the 15th century tower standing high above the surrounding buildings. Enter St John on the Wall to explore a hidden church and vaulted crypt, built into the medieval city wall.

Queen Square is a Georgian park lined by sky-high trees and surrounded by cobbled streets that’s especially idyllic on crisp winter days. Amble down Christmas Steps to see charming architecture and a cluster of creative indie businesses and eclectic shops.

St John on the Wall church on Nelson Street

Image credit: St John on the Wall

Spectacular celebrations

There’s a festive programme that will knock your Christmas stockings off at Bristol Old Vic Theatre, an iconic theatre that dates all the way back to 1766. Tom Morris’ hit adaptation of the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol is back for a second year and for your little ones, magical dance-theatre show Boing! is also making a return. It's all about the excitement of waiting for Father Christmas to arrive and there are pre-bedtime pyjama nights planned on certain dates.

A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic

Image credit: Geraint Lewis

Read next: Have a #MerryBristmas on Park Street and Queens Road


Bar and Cafe at Bristol Old Vic
Dish at 1766 Bar and Kitchen

Modern yet classical setting, flooded with natural light, set right in the heart of Bristol. A fantastic multi-functional space, that offers locals a space their city deserves and offers visitors a destination to really pique their interests.

The Ox Bristol
The Ox Corn Street steak

The Ox is a bastion of simple, top notch, British fayre. Situated in the heart of the Old City, you’ll find a menu packed with the choicest cuts of prime steak and tasty, meaty morsels.

The Milk Thistle
The Milk Thistle Bristol interior

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.

The Harbour Kitchen
Harbour Kitchen at Bristol Harbour Hotel

A stylish seafood bar & grill serving simple, fresh seafood alongside thick-cut, dry-aged steaks and indulgent desserts. Chef Director John Pollard advocates local produce and seasonal ingredients, to create dishes that showcase the region's finest flavours.

Pieminister - St Nicholas Market

Pieminister prides itself on being an ethical producer, using only free-range meat and sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers

Aqua, Welshback
Al Fresco
Dish at Aqua Welshback

Aqua for every occasion, Aqua is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Creating memorable service with outstanding food and impeccable service. Pop in anytime.

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel
Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

The four-star Mercure Bristol Grand on Broad Street, Bristol has had an extensive makeover giving the historic Grade II listed building a stylish and distinctive new look and feel.

Brooks Guesthouse Bristol
Guest House
Double Bedroom, Brooks Guesthouse Bristol

The stunning Brooks Guest House Bristol is a boutique guesthouse in central Bristol.

SACO Bristol - West India House
Serviced Apartment
West India House exterior

These 4 star city centre waterfront apartments are an ideal alternative to hotels, offering twice the space and comfort of a similarly priced hotel. Each apartment features stylish & spacious living areas with fully equipped kitchens.

Rock and Bowl
Rock and Bowl hostel Bristol

The Rock N Bowl Hostel, located right in Bristol's buzzing City Centre, is the perfect choice for backpackers, groups and individuals alike, plus it's within walking distance of both the coach and train stations.

Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre
Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre

The museum takes you on a journey through the history of Palestine, from the late 19th century through to the present. An exhibition of Palestinian heritage, culture and daily life.

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

The outlet stocks the famous, locally made Bristol Blue Glass, which is still created using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years.


Stanfords is the UK's leading specialist retailer of maps, travel books, travel accessories and travel literature.

Guilbert’s Chocolates Ltd
Speciality Shop

Guilbert’s - the only remaining chocolate maker in the city of Bristol. 100 years of hand-crafting chocolates, luxury gift collections and a selection of your own choice available in store.

Bristol Beacon
Event Venue
Colston Hall Foyer - CREDIT AARDMAN

Colston Hall is Bristol’s largest concert hall, presenting concerts and entertainment by major names in rock, pop, jazz, folk, world and classical music, stand up comedy and light entertainment.

St Nicholas Market
St Nicholas Market

This vibrant and buzzing market place can be found in the heart of the old city, which is full of fantastic examples of Georgian Architecture and is only a short walk from all of the hotels in central Bristol.

St Stephen's Church
St Stephen's Church, Bristol

Ancient parish church of the city built with assistance from the Benedictine monks in Glastonbury in 1247

St John on the Wall
St John on the Wall interior

The only surviving church founded by Walter Frampton and built on Bristol's saxon inner town wall during the 12th century

Bristol Old Vic Theatre
Bristol Old Vic Theatre exterior

Built in 1766, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, and remains a place of joy, discovery and adventure to this day.