Looking for ways to make the most of 2020? Get all the inspiration you need from our epic guide to 120 things to do in Bristol.

We’ve compiled the best events, long-running and brand-new attractions, one-of-a-kind experiences, unforgettable food and drink, sporting adventures, festive goings-on and much more.

Fill your calendar and let us know how many you manage to tick off by using #BristolBucketList on Instagram and Twitter.

Hot air balloons flying over Clifton Suspension Bridge by Gary Newman

Image - Gary Newman

Jump to:

Attractions | Food & drink | Experiences | Festivals | Music | Theatre | Film & TV | Heritage & culture | Outdoors | Sport | Day trips | Shopping | Sacred & spiritual | Christmas

Attractions

1. Join Brunel’s SS Great Britain to celebrate two anniversaries for the historic ship – 50 years since its return from wreckage to Bristol and 175 since its record-breaking transatlantic trip to New York.

2. Play at being a zookeeper through one of Bristol Zoo’s animal experiences, from VIP lion feeding to assisting one of the keepers one-to-one for an entire day.   

3. Journey through Bristol’s aeronautical history at Aerospace Bristol and step aboard the last ever Concorde to be built and fly.   

Kids looking at guide in front of plane at Aerospace Bristol

Image - Aerospace Bristol

4. Have fish-tastic fun at Bristol Aquarium, getting an up-close peek at tropical, marine and freshwater creatures of all shapes and sizes.

5. Take a trip to the outer reaches of the universe from the comfort of a seat in We The Curious’ 3D planetarium, and stoke your curiosity even further by testing out the hands-on interactive exhibits.   

6. See four ‘extinct’ British species – brown bears, lynx, wolverines and grey wolves – living side by side in the ancient woodland at Bear Wood, the latest exhibit to land at Wild Place Project and the only of its kind in the UK.

Lemur at Wild Place Project

Image - Wild Place Project

7. Watch an independent film at waterfront multi-media arts centre Watershed, or find something else on their programme of talks, festivals, music and visual art that appeals to you.

8. Browse the world-class collections at Bristol Museum as well as exhibitions for 2020, which include Do you believe in magic?, Pre-Raphaelites and Being Human

9. Ride perfect waves on The Wave’s 300m in-land surfing lake, the newly opened attraction that’s making surfing fun for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned surfers.

10. Take a free guided tour of Clifton Suspension Bridge led by the Visitor Centre’s volunteers, who will let you in on intriguing facts and stories behind Brunel’s masterpiece. Stop in at Clifton Observatory too, for a spectacular panoramic view from the camera obscura.

11. Discover a medley of macabre history, beauty, wildlife and tranquillity at Arnos Vale, one of Britain’s best examples of a Victorian garden cemetery.

12. Spot big zoo animals roaming in the Somerset countryside at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm – their residents include African elephants, giraffes, tigers and spectacled bears.

13. Spend a day at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, where there’s soft play, a miniature railway, animal encounters and many more fun family-friendly activities and adventures to enjoy.

14. Go sightseeing from the open top Bristol Insight bus, hopping on and off to explore attractions en route.  

15. Let the little ones run wild at Old Down Country Park or take the Farm Trail at Cattle Country.

Food and drink

16. Declared the world’s most vegan-friendly city by foodie website Chef’s Pencil, explore Bristol’s vegan scene.

17. Indulge in some Michelin-starred dining courtesy of the talented teams at Casamia and Paco Tapas, or at one of the fellow restaurants recommended in the guide.

Beetroot dish at Casamia

Image - Casamia 

18. Learn about how your favourite tipples are concocted on a distillery, vineyard or brewery tour. Discover the city's amazing beer with Bristol Hoppers (who also offer a self-guided tour) or Bristol Brewery Tours. Bristol Beer Factory, Bath Ales, Aldwick Estate, Limeburn Hill Biodynamic Vineyard and 6 O'clock Gin can all take you behind the scenes and show you their craft.   

19. Try some of the finest ciders in the land at watering holes famed for their selection – The Apple and The Orchard make top starting points. Look out for events hosted by Bristol Cider Shop too.   

20. Eat and drink on a boat! Bask in the sunshine on the top deck of The Grain Barge, tuck into fish and chips on-board The Matthew while sailing around the Floating Harbour or try stylish dining on the Glassboat Brasserie.

21. Travel back in time to the days of prohibition with speakeasy-style cocktail bars – Hyde and Co. and Milk Thistle.

22. Be bowled over by the globe-spanning foodie offering in the historic St Nicholas Market. With everything from inventive British pies at Pieminister, to East Asian dishes at Woky Ko, you’ll need to plan return visits.

23. Eat your way around the rest of the city’s street food markets. Regular ones include a Vegan and Wellness Market, Harbourside Street Food, Temple Quay Market and Finzels Reach Market – check out times here.

24. Dine at the independent restaurants and bars housed inside converted shipping containers at Wapping Wharf’s first-class food destination, Cargo.

25. Savour irresistible sweet treats from gelato experts Swoon and masterful modern bakers Pinkmans.

Doughnuts and bread on display at Pinkmans Bakery

Image - Pinkmans 

26. Tour around the cracking craft beer scene with Butcombe Brewery Tours or time your visit for Bristol Craft Beer Festival (12 – 13 June), where over 150 beers from 35 specially selected breweries will be showcased.

27. When the summer sunshine makes an appearance, bag a table at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating and dine al fresco.

28. Pick up cookery skills from local experts on courses run by companies like Papadeli, Ruby and White Butchers, and Source.

29. Get your caffeine hit at The Coffee House Project, where the city’s local, artisan roasters, independent food and drink retailers and home-grown baristas come together under one roof.

30. As well as lots of chicken, get stuck into eating challenges, live music, axe throwing and beer pairing at the first ever Bristol Wing Fest.  

31. Pick one of family-run herb farm Jekka’s experiences to get involved with – they have open days, masterclasses, private tours and the first ever HerbFest lined up for 2020.  

Experiences

32. Have an unforgettable flight above Bristol in a hot air balloon with Elite Air, Bailey Balloons or Bristol Balloons.  

Bailey Balloons hot air balloon in flight over Bristol

Image - Paul Box

33. Enter the world of Wallace and Gromit via the new AR experience by Fictioneers and Aardman, set to launch in the autumn.  

34. Unleash your inner lumberjack at Whistle Punks, the new urban axe throwing venue.

35. Enjoy a blissed out day at the one of Bristol’s spas.

36. See the street art Bristol is famed for on a tour with Where The Wall or Graft, both of which also run graffiti workshops where you can get to grips with a spray can yourself.

37. Hop aboard a guided boat trip. Choose from tours dedicated to wildlife spotting, an afternoon tea experience and other themed cruises, or ride on Bristol Packet’s Tower Belle in its 100th anniversary year. Both Bristol Ferry Boats and Number Seven also run tours alongside their regular ferry services.

Bristol Packet's Tower Belle boat in front of Clifton Suspension Bridge

Image - Bristol Packet

38. Solve a murder mystery on the Avon Valley Express.

39. Blow your own glass with the team at Bristol Blue Glass, who use 300-year-old methods to create glass.

40. Plan a pirate-themed day out and brush up on local maritime history and folklore on a tour with Pirate Pete. Drop into The Hatchet Inn for a drink, where the infamous Blackbeard was once a regular. 

41. Test your problem solving skills with a bunch of mates at City Mazes, Locked in a Room or Puzzlair-4D.

42. Wake up to wildlife at Wild Place Project’s luxury glamping accommodation, Camp Baboon, or pick from a host of other quirky places to stay.

43. Be a dark tourist during your visit, immersing yourself in #SpookyBristol activities and experiences.

Festivals

44. Head to the city centre to witness the first ever Bristol Light Festival, which is bringing colour, light and play to the typically cold and dark month of February.

45. Be mesmerised by the mass hot air balloon ascents during Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Thursday 6 – Sunday 9 August). For the first time ever you can also become a Fiesta Patron and enjoy exclusive access and prime viewing spots throughout the festival.

46. Dance all day at St Pauls Carnival (4 July), the city’s iconic celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture.

47. Don’t miss Bristol Harbour Festival (17 – 19 July) – one of the UK's largest free public festivals, jam-packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, markets and street stalls.

Stage and crowd at Bristol Harbour Festival

Image - Bristol Harbour Festival by Paul Box

48. Attend as many events as you can during the two-week long Bristol Pride (26 June – 11 July), culminating in the Pride Day march in the city centre and festival on The Downs.

49. Watch graffiti artists paint stunning giant murals at Europe’s largest live street art and graffiti festival, which is free to attend. This will be the biggest Upfest yet, as a takeover of Greville Smyth Park is new for the 2020 programme. 

50. Get your fill of giggles at Bristol’s comedy festivals – Bristol Comedy Garden brings comedy greats to the leafy lawns of Queen Square in July and Slapstick Festival (23 – 26 January) is an annual celebration of silent screen and classic comedy.

Bristol Comedy Garden in Queen Square

Image - Bristol Comedy Garden 

51. Be inspired by Festival of Nature (6-7 June) events – it’s the largest free celebration of the natural world in the UK.  

52. Gorge on great food at foodie festivals like Bristol Food Connections, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion (2 – 3 May), British Dal Festival (21 – 31 March) and Valley Fest (31 July – 2 August).

53. See performances inspired by the Bard in unusual venues for Bristol Shakespeare Festival, including spoken word, circus and open-air theatre.

Music

54. Colston Hall remains closed for their ongoing transformation, but is still lining up great music at different venues around the city through its Colston Hall Presents series. Check out the programme here.

55. Admire the amazing acoustics in decommissioned church turned concert hall, St George’s Bristol, where world-class artists regularly take to the stage.    

Concert at St George's Bristol

Image - St George's Bristol

56. Listen to live music at one of the many other top music venues in Bristol, from the Trinity Centre and The Canteen to jazz at The Old Duke. 

57. Experience the legendary nightlife scene – from long-standing clubs like Lakota, to buzzing bar and live performance hotspot Old Market Assembly, to the largest casino in Bristol and the UK's only boutique magic theatre and pub, Smoke and Mirrors.   

58. Tap your feet to Bluegrass and Americana music at Bristol Bluegrass Festival (6 – 7 March) or catch incredible musicians, compositions and master classes at Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival (26 – 29 March).

59. Glitter up for the final Love Saves The Day (23 – 24 May) at Eastville Park before it moves to new home Ashton Court in 2021. Or discover up-and-coming acts as well as established artists at one-day, multi-venue event Dot to Dot (23 May) on the same weekend.

Crowd and stage at Love Saves The Day 2019, Eastville Park

Image - Love Saves The Day by Mike Massaro 

60. Watch Will Young and James Morrison (12 June), Madness (13 June) or Keane (14 June) at the Forest Live concert series in the enchanting setting of Westonbirt Arboretum, among their stunning tree collection.  

61. Go to a Bristol Sounds gig. Running over five nights from 24 – 28 June, this year’s headline acts are Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Supergrass, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Reef and Jack Savoretti.

62. Party to class acts as well as listening to informative speakers and panel discussions at The Downs Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend.

63. Round off festival season at urban and dance music festival Tokyo World (19 – 20 September).

Theatre

64. Watch stars of British theatre and emerging talent in productions at the atmospheric Bristol Old Vic – the oldest continually working theatre in the English-speaking world.

65. From Riverdance - The 25th Anniversary Show and The King and I, to The Book of Mormon, see one of the major productions at family-friendly theatre Bristol Hippodrome.  

66. Find something that takes your fancy from the mix of classic and contemporary theatre, family-friendly performances, comedy, dance, music, opera and puppetry on the Tobacco Factory Theatres programme.

67. See a show at Redgrave Theatre in Clifton, one of Bristol’s most popular theatres, hosting operas, musicals, stand-up comedy, theatre, speakers and dance.

Film and TV

68. Book a seat at a Bristol Film Festival screening, where classic films are shown in iconic Bristol locations for a unique immersive movie-watching experience.

69. Tour our UNESCO City of Film’s most famous filming locations with help from Bristol Film Office’s Movie Maps. There’s also the guided Only Fools and Horses Tour or you can read our blog posts to find places featured in Sanditon, Poldark and Doctor Who.

70. Kick back at screenings and expand your cinematic knowledge at a film festival. Highlights are Afrika Eye Festival in November where African arts, film and culture are celebrated, Cinema Rediscovered (23 – 26 December) which explores the invention, innovation and mystery of cinema, and Encounters Film Festival (20 – 26 September) the UK’s leading short film, animation and virtual reality festival.  

71. Mark the 100th anniversary of Bristol-born Archie Leach moving to New York on his journey to becoming movie star Cary Grant at the Cary Grant Comes Home Festival.

Cary Grant statue in Millennium Square

Image - Cary Grant statue in Millennium Square 

72. Book a stay in accommodation that’s been used as a film set, from city centre hotels and a luxury hostel on a boat to Victorian country house Tyntesfield.

Heritage and culture

73. Tourists and lifelong locals alike can learn something new at M Shed, where the story of Bristol and its inhabitants is told from pre-historic times to the present day. Visit between 6 June to 1 November for the 'Vanguard' Bristol Street Art exhibition, which focuses on Bristol's instrumental role as the birthplace of modern British street art and coincides with Streets Ahead (6 June - 23 August) at the RWA. 

74. Browse the impressive collections in Bristol’s galleries, such as the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), Spike Island, Arnolfini, The Royal Photographic Society and the Martin Parr Foundation. There’s often exhibitions with a green focus on at the Create Centre and Ecohome too.  

75. Uncover facts about Bristol’s Floating Harbour at working boatyard Underfall Yard’s visitor centre and look out for their new-for-2020 Victorian workshop demonstration tours.   

76. Step back in time at Bristol’s historic houses. Learn about Berkeley Castle’s royal connections, marvel at Tyntesfield’s Victorian Gothic architecture, spot deer at 17th-century house Dyrham Park, admire Sudeley Castle’s award-winning gardens, and see how homelife has evolved over 300 years at Blaise Castle House Museum.

Tyntesfield in the Autum light

Image - Tyntesfield Estate by Paul Blakemore

77. Discover the history of America and its traditions at the American Museum & Gardens, the only museum of Americana outside of the United States.

78. Pay a visit to some of the city’s smaller museums – the Georgian House Museum, Red Lodge Museum, Glenside Hospital Museum and George Müller Museum are among them.

79. Join in with events and activities marking 250 years since the death of Thomas Chatterton – Bristol’s boy poet who died tragically young. There’ll be exhibitions, talks, tours and a Romantic Bristol: Writing the City app.

80. See a side to Bristol that’s usually hidden during Bristol Open Doors organised by The Architecture Centre, as attractions and heritage buildings open up closed-to-public spaces for one weekend only.

81. Meet local artists and buy handmade arts and crafts on a community arts trail.

Outdoors

82. Stretch your legs around the 800-acre woodland and grassland of Ashton Court Estate. Check ahead to see if the miniature railway is running or, for the more adventurous, mountain bike around the estate and Leigh Woods.

83. Go on a garden tour, available at many beautiful Bristol gardens such as Bowood House and Gardens and University of Bristol's Botanic Gardens.

University of Bristol Botanic Gardens

Image - University of Bristol's Botanic Gardens 

84. Venture to RSPB Nature Reserve Ham Wall on the Somerset Levels to witness the wondrous starling murmurations.

85. While away time in Bristol’s 400 parks and gardens, from wildlife-rich patches Eastville Park and Troopers Hill Nature Reserve, to city centre hangouts Castle Park and Queen Square. In autumn, follow our guide to Bristol's best parks for leaf peeping.   

86. Hop on two wheels and make the most of the bike-friendly roads and cycle paths, either solo, buddied up on a tandem, or as part of a tour.   

87. Get to know the city by foot – take yourself on self-guided walking tours, join in with the UK’s largest urban walking festival, or check out our blogs on top seasonal walks for spring, autumn and winter.

88. Climb to the top of Cabot Tower in Bristol’s oldest park, Brandon Hill, for unbeatable panoramic views. 

89. Bring your four-legged friend along for the visit and enjoy our recommended dog walks, places to go for a pint with your pooch and Bristol's best dog-friendly hotels.

90. Seek out colourful corners of the city and share your photos using #BristolColourUK on Instagram.

Bristol's colourful houses from above

Image - All Together Now by Joshua Perrett

Sport

91. Watch a live Bristol City football match and Bristol Bears rugby game at Ashton Gate Stadium, or catch a game on the screen in the Bristol Sports Bar and Grill – the largest indoor pub screen in the country. Head up Gloucester Road to Memorial Stadium to see Bristol Rovers play.

92. Celebrate the 150th birthday of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, whether by watching their 2020 fixtures or attending the events they have planned to mark the anniversary.   

93. Climb or abseil the Avon Gorge, a unique city-based hotspot for climbing. The Adventurous Activity Company has guides who can show you the ropes and they can also put together whole activity packages for you.

94. Give Bristol’s best water-based activities a go, from yoga on stand-up paddleboards on the harbour to totting up lengths at Bristol Lido.

Woman stand up paddle boarding on a misty morning on Bristol Harbourside

Image - Bristol SUP 

95. Place your bets at Bath Racecourse and look out for their special events such as live music (the Kaiser Chiefs headline on 5 June), Super Cider Saturday featuring The Wurzels (15 August) and a Family Fun Day (13 September).

96. Bounce your way around Europe’s leading trampoline park AirHop, or take to the Ninja Course at Freedog Urban Activity Centre.

97. Score a hole-in-one at some of the most naturally beautiful golf courses in the West Country or play in a virtual world at golf simulation facility, inPlay Golf.   

Day trips

98. Have a wild day out at Longleat. Drive through the safari park, let the kids run riot in the adventure zone and walk around one of the country’s finest Elizabethan stately homes.  

99. Take in the natural wonder of Cheddar Gorge, from the 450-feet high limestone cliffs to the stunning stalactite caverns below. For more family-friendly fun and breath-taking cave and rock formations in the Mendip Hills, head to Wookey Hole.

100. Enjoy a day at the seaside on the Somerset coast. Wander along the vast sandy beach at Weston-super-Mare and have fun on the arcade games and rides in the Grand Pier, spend time in charming Clevedon where there’s a traditional Victorian pier, or take a dip in the open air pool at Portishead.

Clevedon Pier at sunset

Image - Clevedon Pier

101. Follow an autumn trail map at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum to be wowed by the firework of colours on display.

102. Spot rare and exotic birds, mammals and the largest collection of amphibians in the UK at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre. Make it an overnight stay by booking in at the recently opened Bewick’s Lodge, luxury accommodation within Scott House where Sir Peter Scott founded the charity.

103. Explore Europe’s largest collection of naval aircraft and step aboard the first British Concorde at Fleet Air Arm Museum.  

104. Visit The Royal Mint Experience to unlock the 1100-year history of the world’s largest exporting mint and make your very own coin.

105. Go Ape! Embark on a treetop adventure with zip wires, obstacles and the Tarzan Swing, or jump on two wheels to tackle the Forest Segway trails. 

Shopping

106. Stroll between the hundreds of shops in Bristol Shopping Quarter, from Harvey Nichols in Cabot Circus to the UK’s second largest Primark.   

107. The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is another premier shopping destination, just outside of town, where you can find department stores like John Lewis & Partners and favourite high street brands.  

108. Wander around the pretty Georgian streets of Clifton Village to find upmarket boutiques and other fine shops, such as Wylde Jewellers.   

109. Go on an indie shopping spree on Park Street, Gloucester Road, St Nicholas Market, Christmas Steps or North Street – some of the city’s best-known areas for independent shops. 

110. Scour the city for second-hand gems with help from Beyond Retro’s vintage shopping guide

Woman shopping in the Beyond Retro Bristol store

Image - Beyond Retro

111. Shop for locally made goodies at the Tourist Information Centre or from our online shop.

Sacred and spiritual

112. Find out about the fascinating history of John and Charles Wesley at the oldest Methodist building in the world, John Wesley's Chapel 'The New Room'. Follow in the brothers’ footsteps on a Wesley Walk around the city too. 

113. Spend time at the historic Bristol Cathedral – attend a concert or recital, devour delicious treats in the café, relax in the gardens or simply admire the majestic architecture.

Bristol Cathedral by Dave Pratt

Image - Bristol Cathedral by Dave Pratt

114. Discover more of Bristol’s sacred history at other city centre churches including St Mary Redcliffe, St John on the Wall and St James Priory.

115. See Britain's tallest spire and marvel at the finest surviving copy of the 1215 Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral Or visit Wells Cathedral in the UK’s smallest city and tick off our other suggestions of top things to do in Wells. Check out Greenman Tours for organised trips to both these locations and others.   

Christmas

116. Get your festive belly laughs from a pantomime – take your pick from performances at Bristol Hippodrome, Tobacco Factory Theatres or Redgrave Theatre

117. Eat, drink and shop at the 450 plus Christmas market stalls that pop up during the Yuletide season.

Christmas shoppers at Harbourside Christmas Market

Image - Harbourside Christmas Market

118. Pick the perfect place to stay during your festive visit, whether you want a prime spot for Christmas shopping or a super cosy hotel for some winter hibernation. 

119. Sing along to your favourite carols at one of the many Christmas carol concerts that takes place in the city, including the always popular Carols by Candlelight at Bristol Cathedral.

120. Turn back the clock to the 19th century for a Victorian Christmas. Attend the festivities during Brunel’s SS Great Britain's Victorian Weekend or visit Tyntesfield for an immersive festive experience featuring decorations, games, dancing and storytelling based around the era.

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