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 Jetty Restaurant 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

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